Pets can be a wonderful addition to any household, bringing joy, companionship, and even health benefits to their owners. However, owning a pet while renting also comes with certain responsibilities, including ensuring that any damage caused by the pet is repaired or compensated for. One way that landlords and property managers attempt to mitigate this risk is by charging “pet rent” in addition to regular rent. But does pet rent cover damages caused by pets?
In this article, we will take a closer look at what pet rent is, how it is used, and whether or not it can be relied upon to cover damages caused by pets.
What Is Pet Rent?
Pet rent is an additional monthly fee that landlords may charge tenants who have pets in their rental unit. It is charged on top of regular rent and is intended to cover any additional costs associated with having pets on the property, such as increased cleaning or wear and tear on the unit. In some cases, landlords will have different fees depending on the type of pet based on the risk of property damage or additional wear on the property. Some landlords may also require a pet deposit in addition to pet rent.
Why Do Landlords Charge Pet Rent?
Landlords charge pet rent as a way to cover any potential damage or extra cleaning that may be needed due to the presence of a pet in a rental unit. Additionally, it can also be used to help cover the cost of any extra insurance that the landlord may need to purchase to protect against potential damage caused by the tenant’s pet. Sadly, some landlords may also view pet rent as an opportunity for extra income under the guise of potential pet-related damages.
Why Do Tenants Dislike Pet Rent?
Tenants may dislike pet rent because it adds an additional expense to their monthly rent. Additionally, some tenants may feel that pet rent is unfair if they have a well-trained, well-behaved pet that is unlikely to cause any damage to the rental unit. Some tenants may also feel that pet rent is discriminatory, as it can make it more difficult for them to find a rental property.
What Does Pet Rent Cover?
Be aware that pet rent does not cover all types of damage caused by pets. For example, pet rent does not cover damage caused by pet urine or feces, which can be expensive to repair. Additionally, pet rent does not cover any damage caused by the pet that is outside of the rental unit, such as pet damage to landscaping or other property.
In some cases, landlords may require tenants to purchase a renter’s insurance policy in order to cover any potential damages caused by their pet. This type of policy typically covers damage to the rental unit, as well as any liability that may arise from the pet’s actions.
Pet rent typically covers:
- Additional cleaning and maintenance costs to address any damage or wear and tear caused by the pet
- Pest control expenses if the pet brings fleas or other pests into the rental unit
- Insurance costs to protect the landlord from potential damage caused by the tenant’s pet
- The cost of any repairs or replacements that may be necessary if the pet causes damage to the rental unit or common areas.
The specific things that pet rent covers can vary depending on the landlord and the rental property. If you are paying pet rent, or considering a rental where pet rent is required, be sure to ask for documentation about what pet-related damages the pet rent covers.
Another key thing to know is that service or emotional support animals (ESAs) are exempt from pet rent.
How Does Pet Rent Work For Multiple Pets?
When a tenant has multiple pets, the landlord may charge an additional pet rent fee for each pet. The fee will depend on the landlord’s policies and the specific number of pets. Some landlords may have a maximum number of pets allowed per unit, or may charge extra fees or deposits for each additional pet. Other landlords may have a flat fee for any number of pets. It’s important to check with the landlord or property manager to understand their specific pet policies and fees for multiple pets. Since some landlords may not allow tenants to have more than one pet in the rental unit, it is important to check before applying for the rental if you have multiple pets. Some landlords can be convinced to make exemptions regarding multiple pets if you negotiate well.
Alternatives to Pet Rent
Some alternatives to pet rent that landlords may use, or you might argue for, include:
- Pet deposit: This is a one-time fee that a tenant pays at the beginning of the lease, which is held by the landlord as collateral in case of any damages caused by the pet. This is similar but separate to a security deposit. A typical pet deposit ranges from a few hundred dollars to the same amount as a regular security deposit.
- Pet fee: This is a non-refundable fee that the tenant pays for having a pet in the rental unit. This one-time charge does not get returned to the tenant, even if no damages are caused by the pet.
- Pet insurance: Tenants can purchase pet insurance as part of their renters insurance, which can cover damages caused by the pet, and this can be used as an alternative to pet rent.
- Increased security deposit: Some landlords increase the security deposit to cover any potential damages caused by the pet, this is a way to get coverage without charging pet rent.
- Pet interview: Landlords may require potential tenants with pets to have an interview with the pet(s) to ensure they are well-trained and well-behaved, or ask for references from previous landlords or pet sitters.
Specific alternatives to pet rent vary depending on the landlord and the rental property. Some landlords may use a combination of these alternatives, or have their own unique policies.
In conclusion, pet rent is an additional fee that landlords charge to cover the potential costs associated with having a pet in the rental unit. However, pet rent does not cover all types of damage caused by pets, such as pet urine or feces stains, or damage caused by the pet that is outside of the rental unit. It’s important to check with the landlord or property management company to understand their specific policies and fees, as they often vary. There are alternatives to pet rent such as pet deposits, pet fees, increased security deposit, pet insurance and pet interview that can be considered by landlords.
Finding pet-friendly rental properties can be tough. Many renters with pets accept they’ll face extra charges just to be able to rent with pets, even though it seems unfair given rent prices in general and that their pets do not cause any additional damage. Acceptance not your thing? Read our guide to getting out of pet rent.
Tenants should be aware of their rights and responsibilities in regards to renting with pets, and make sure they fully understand the terms and conditions of their lease agreement before signing it.