Senior living communities charge a community fee to help cover expenses incurred in renting apartments. The community may use the fee to cover the cost of replacing carpet, painting walls, replacing furniture, marketing the apartment, or simply to serve as revenue for the community.

Many seniors do not understand community fees or are annoyed by them, but essentially, these fees are another form of income for the assisted living provider. This source of income can be added to the monthly rent, levels of care, or other fees paid by senior living residents. Together they permit the community to cover the labor and upkeep costs of running a senior living community.

Many people mistake community fees with entrance fees. Entrance fees, however, are larger fees paid to continuing care retirement communities that may or may not be refundable. Community fees are rarely refundable, but are also much smaller.

If you're looking at a particular senior living community, but the community fee seems like a major barrier, then you may consider asking for a reduced or eliminated community fee. Community fees are often one of the most negotiable costs paid to assisted living communities.