It can be challenging for pet owners to find rental properties that allow their pets. Many are happy to pay extra to live in a nice place with their dogs or cats. Landlords can tap into a massive source of highly qualified applicants if they allow pets on their properties. However, they may find themselves asking, “How much should I charge for a rental pet deposit?”
Can I Charge Tenant For Pet?
Separate pet deposits are only legal in some states. Wait, what? It’s beneficial to consider whether your state allows you to charge a separate pet deposit in addition to the regular security deposit.
Why Charge A Pet Deposit?
Pets can come with consequences. Maybe your tenant got a new puppy, and they need to be potty-trained, or maybe your tenant’s cat likes to tear up the carpet when they are purring. Whatever it is, there’s a slight risk when you take on a tenant with a pet.
How To Determine the Cost Of a Pet Deposit
It’s tough to find a number out of nowhere on what to charge a tenant with a pet that wants to bring it onto the rental property. Here are a few tips when determining what to charge for a pet deposit.
Consider The Factors
There are a few factors to consider when determining the cost of a pet deposit. Here are the most important things to pay attention to:
Type of pet
Let’s think about it. A dog can do more damage than a cat, possibly. Now, if you’ve got a tiger for a cat, that’s a different story. The pet type should be considered because one animal could cause your deposit to increase or decrease.
Size of pet
A giant dog will do more damage than a smaller dog most of the time. For bigger dogs, it could be nail marks on the wooden floors, scratches on the door, or bite marks on the stairs. Whatever it is, the size of the pet does matter.
You’ve got to consider property damage in your decision, and that’s where the property’s value comes in. Of course, you want to be fair and not out of this world outrageous with your pet deposit price, but at the same time, if your property is worth a lot, make sure that value is reflected in your pet deposit.
Each state has laws allowing landlords to collect security deposits against damages. Some of these laws are very strict in the maximum amount, while other states have no limits.
When setting pet deposits, once again, state law determines whether or not landlords can charge a pet deposit. Here are some states and their current pet deposit laws. We can’t stress enough that to establish how much to charge for a pet deposit; landlords must find out the rules in their state.
Some places, like North Dakota, allow landlords to charge a pet deposit and a security deposit.
Other states, like California, only allow landlords to collect up to two months’ rent as a deposit and anything over that is illegal. No matter how many different deposits a landlord charges, the total cannot exceed that limit.
Some states, like Florida, have no limits on what landlords can charge in deposits. This gives landlords a lot of flexibility when setting pet deposits.
Common Pet Deposit Ranges
The landlords we associate with have plenty to share about how to know what to charge for a pet deposit. Landlords also need to determine what method works best for them in ensuring adequate coverage for the damage pets can do to a rental property. Any pet details must be precise and included in the lease agreement wording, whether as a deposit or as extra rent.
So, what does a typical pet deposit price look like? Most of the time, the general price for pets ranges from $100 to $300. For those landlords that don’t restrict pet deposits, it can be challenging to figure out how to set a policy for their rental.
Some landlords choose a one-time non-refundable deposit per pet for up to two pets. Others might ask for different amounts for dogs vs. cats. Still, other landlords set up a refundable pet deposit separate from the security deposit. There’s no wrong way to determine what to charge for a pet deposit.
Pet Deposits: Are They Refundable?
It all depends on your state and local laws! It’s essential to reference the same process here that you would with a security deposit. When you go into a property, be it during move-out and notice some damage, you have to keep in mind the following:
- Document the damage w/ photos or videos
- Create a list that’s itemized on time spent on repairing damage
- Do the math: tally up expenses for repairing the damage and subtract them from the deposit
What To Know About “Pet Fees”
What the heck is a pet fee? Most of the time, states allow the landlord to keep possession of a pet deposit. In cases like this, the pet deposit is often referred to as the “pet fee.” The logic behind this idea and the reality is that whether or not there was damage, pets usually increase the wear and tear on a property. The reasoning is that pets improve the normal wear and tear on an apartment, whether or not they do apparent damage.
Pet fees are not legal in every state. For instance, in California, a landlord may only charge a general security deposit and may not charge a pet fee.
Additionally, it would help if you determined the cost of your pet fee wisely. As these are not dependent upon documented damage, they must be within reason to cover the additional wear and tear.
Should You Charge Pet Rent?
Woah, so many terms in this one, huh? Pet deposits, also known as pet fees in comes cases, may mean a one-time charge, but pent rent is recurring income. Pet rent is intended to cover additional wear and tear on the unit, like a pet fee. This type of rent considers the damage it may do to the property or yard maintenance because we know that dogs can have the zoomies sometimes. After all, a tenant has a pet.
Just like a pet deposit, the charge for pet rent can vary. However, we can still reference that $100 to $300 listed above, except this price, is divided per month. So instead of charging a lump sum like a pet deposit, pet rent allows you to set $10 to $25 a month.
Again, pet rent may vary depending on the animal type, size, and number of animals in the dwelling. Prices are typically comparable to pet fees, charged monthly rather than one-time payments. For instance, a landlord may charge between $10 and $25 per month for a single pet. Over a year, that adds to between $120 and $300.
Remember, Pet Policy Matters
So, charging for a pet, be it via a deposit, fee, or pet rent, can cover you financially, but remember there are still other things to consider when a tenant has a pet on the property.
As a landlord allowing a tenant to have a pet, creating a pet agreement as a written lease is essential. For this type of agreement, you want to consider the following:
- Tenant having a pet license (if applicable) and proper vaccinations
- Limits restrictions on a pet’s weight, size, etc.
- Responsibilities of the pet owner (doodoo duty, supervision, etc.)
- Pet insurance requirements (could be on tenant’s renter’s insurance)
For more information on pet insurance and liability, check out this video:
Why A Pet Agreement Is Important
You can hold your tenant responsible without a pet agreement if the rules or restrictions are not followed. As a landlord, it’s your responsibility to define proper conduct upfront so that you can hold your tenants responsible if guidelines are broken.
Do A Proper Tenant Check Before Accepting Pets
Before allowing pets on your property, remember to properly analyze the tenant before signing a lease and pet agreement. It’s essential to perform a tenant background check and, depending on state laws, find out if that background check includes an eviction history search to help you determine whether an applicant is a good fit for your rental — pet or not pet.