Landlord Tips & Tricks
June 7, 2023

A Landlord's Guide to Pet Rent

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Many tenants are pet lovers. As such, most single-family and multifamily renters are going for pet-friendly rentals. Therefore, the number of landlords allowing pet lovers in their rentals is surging daily.

However, pets can cause damage, so landlords must plan before allowing them into their rental property. Other than pet screening, charging pet rent is one of the best ways you can mitigate the risk of allowing pet owners into your rental. Moreover, having paid an extra cost, your tenants are more likely to be responsible while living with their pets in your rental.

What is a Pet Rent?

Pet rent is a form of coverage that most landlords use to reduce the cost of pet mishaps and protect their rental property from damage by the pets. Unlike pet fees and deposits, which are one-time charges, pet rent is a recurring charge that a tenant with pets must pay monthly.

Pets are undoubtedly bound to cause damage to both the indoor and outdoor spaces of the rental. Thus, pet rent helps the landlord cover the cost of wear and tear associated with pets.

Pet rent is flexible for renters and pet-friendly landlords since the monthly charge can vary depending on several factors, like the type, size, and number of pets. Other types of charges that landlords can collect from their pet owners are:

Pet Deposits

A pet deposit is very similar to a security deposit. It is an upfront payment to cover any damage a pet may cause to the rental property. The landlord collects pet deposits at the time of lease signing or when the renter gets a new pet.

Although a standard security deposit is legal in every state, a pet deposit may not necessarily be legal in all states. The rules and regulations associated with pets are not only diverse but also vary by state. The state of Idaho, in particular, has no laws on pets. Therefore, landlords here may charge a pet deposit and a pet fee. Overcharging your rentals may, however, make you lose prospective tenants.

It is crucial to check the rules and regulations for pets in your state before you can decide whether or not to charge pet deposits.

Pet Fees

However big or small, any pet can cause unintended damage to a rental unit. Whether it's that urine stain or scratch on the wall, many landlords are concerned with the repair of general wear and tear on a rental home.

A pet fee is an upfront payment that covers the general wear and tear to a rental property caused by pets. Unlike a pet deposit, a pet fee is non-refundable.

Pet fees are illegal in some states. Therefore, landlords should check the state rules and regulations before charging tenants.

How is Pet Rent Different from Pet Fees and Pet Deposits?

While pet deposits and pet fees are one-time charges that the pet owner must pay during lease signing, pet rent is a monthly charge. This means a landlord can collect pet rent monthly if the tenant has a pet at the rental property.

In addition to that, pet rent is usually less expensive compared to pet fees and pet deposits.

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    Pros and cons of Pet Rent

    Here are the pros and cons of pet rent.

    Pros

    • The additional fee can be pretty attractive to landlords.
    • Pet rent increases the landlord's rental income.
    • The extra charges increase a unit's net operating income, making it more valuable.

    Cons

    • The additional fee may be unattractive to tenants, especially those on tight budgets.
    • Renters with multiple pets may end up suffering a high fee which may finally prompt them to look for other pet-friendly rentals that are less costly.

    Pros and Cons of Pet Fees

    Some of the pros and cons of pet fees include:

    Pros

    • Pet fees are non-refundable, thus ensuring you have readily available cleaning or damage repair funds.
    • Most tenants may prefer paying a pet fee since it's usually much lower than pet deposits.

    Cons

    • Tenants may prefer looking for other rental properties that do not charge the fee.
    • A pet fee may not necessarily be enough to cover severe pet damage.
    • Policies requiring tenants to pay a pet fee and a pet deposit may be too costly, making the rentals uninviting to potential tenants.

    Pros and Cons of Pet Deposits

    The pros and cons of pet deposits include the following;

    Pros

    • Landlords can use pet deposits to cover any damages due to the pet.
    • Charging a pet deposit encourages tenants with pets within the property to be more responsible.
    • You can charge a refundable pet deposit that attracts more renters to your unit.

    Cons

    • Landlords can only use the amount on pet-related damage.

    Is it Legal to Charge for Pets?

    Charging for pets may make pet owners spend more on an apartment than non-pet owners. If you are searching for a pet-friendly rental apartment, you might see listings that require you to pay for your pet and wonder whether this is legal. Well, buckle up! As we dive into the details of pet charges and whether or not it's legal in your state.

    It is legal for landlords to charge a security deposit to their pet-owning tenants, regardless of the state. The deposit is essential since it ensures the landlord has readily available funds to repair damages caused by the tenant. Additionally, the security deposit can also cover unpaid rent. Even then, the rules governing security deposits differ from state to state. For instance, some states have specific laws that regulate the security deposit amounts that landlords can charge their tenants, while others have clearly defined deadlines for returning these deposits.

    Some states allow landlords to charge additional pet deposits besides the security deposit. Types of pet deposits that pet-owning tenants can pay to landlords include pet deposits, pet fees, and pet rent. Again, some states may only allow landlords to collect refundable deposits, while others allow both refundable and nonrefundable deposits.

    In California, for instance, there is a limit to the amount and number of months a landlord can collect from a tenant. Therefore, if you collect the security deposit and another type of pet deposit, you must ensure that the total charges do not exceed the state limit.

    Similarly, California's rental control laws prevent landlords from charging more than a specific sum as a deposit. As such, it is better to consult with a landlord-tenant attorney in your state before setting an extra pet deposit.

    Overall, charging for pets isn't always legal since the state laws and limitations significantly differ in the U.S. Nevertheless, in all states, it is illegal for a landlord to charge a tenant with a disability who has an assistant animal a pet deposit, pet fee, or pet rent.

    What Do Most Landlords Charge for Pets?

    Most states only allow landlords to collect refundable pet deposits. Depending on the state, however, the landlord can also charge non-refundable pet fees as long as the sum of all the deposits does not exceed the state maximum.

    Key Takeaways

    • Pet rent is a recurring monthly charge that most landlords use to reduce the cost of pet mishaps and their rental property from damage by the pets
    • A pet deposit is much like a security deposit and is an upfront payment meant to cover any damages a pet may cause to the rental property.
    • A pet fee is an upfront payment that covers the general wear and tear to a rental property caused by pets.
    • According to the Fair Housing Act, it is illegal for landlords to charge pet deposits, fees, or rent to tenants with disabilities who use the assistance of their pets.

    This post is for informational purposes only and does not serve as legal, financial, or tax advice. Consult your own legal, financial, or tax advisor for matters mentioned here. Steadily is not liable for any actions taken based on this information. If you believe any of this information may be inaccurate please contact us.

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