Renting often comes with a variety of confusing fees and charges. In addition to dealing with rising rental costs, tenants with pets often have to pay additional fees in order to rent a home or apartment with their pets. Arguably the least popular fee with renters who have pets is pet rent.
Because pet rent is usually both non-refundable and a recurring fee every month, it can feel like a lose-lose situation for many renters, especially if their pets don’t end up causing any property damage during their lease. On the surface, the low monthly cost of pet rent may seem attractive compared to a sizable pet deposit but for long-term renters and those with well-behaved pets, it can easily turn into a money pit.
Many renters would love to know how to get out of paying pet rent, whether or not it’s normal for landlords to impose a fee like pet rent, and whether pet rent is something you can negotiate with your new landlord. Thankfully, we’ll cover all that and more in this guide.
So, how do you get out of paying pet rent? If you want to get out of paying pet rent, suggest signing a longer lease. Vacant properties lose landlords money, and dependable, long-term tenants are hard to find. You could also offer to pay a larger pet deposit – it’s refundable if there’s no pet damage when you leave, and covers any pet damage that does occur.
What is the Point of Pet Rent?
Just like any other fee associated with pets that a landlord charges, pet rent is intended to cover the cost of additional wear and tear on a rental unit caused by pets. In some cases, pet rent may be used to replace parts of a rental that are damaged beyond repair. Pet rent is also commonly used for repairs and maintenance of common areas like hallways and lobbies, as well as the surrounding property and yard.
Landlords are in the business of making money, and pet rent is one way for them to protect themselves from financial losses incurred by unruly pets and/or irresponsible pet owners. Fees like pet rent or pet deposits are common in pet-friendly rentals, and when properties don’t allow pets, they’re sometimes used to convince landlords to allow pets.
Can You Negotiate Pet Rent?
You can absolutely negotiate pet rent. In fact, you can negotiate most things as a tenant. Renting can sometimes feel like a powerless position, but remember that you have certain rights as a tenant that your landlord can’t violate without risking (sometimes serious) legal and/or financial repercussions. It’s also important to remember that for most landlords a vacant rental property is worse than an occupied rental with an occasionally unruly pet.
This is especially true for landlords with fewer properties – they likely have a mortgage (or several) to pay, and if no rent money is coming in they will struggle to do so. Use this knowledge to your advantage, especially if you have a stellar rental history and a dependable income – smart landlords will gladly negotiate pet rent and other fees to secure you as a tenant for the long-term.
How Do You Negotiate Pet Rent?
Start every negotiation with a landlord by looking at why they have has asked for specific accommodations. In this case, your landlord may be charging pet rent due to previous bad experiences and needing to recoup costs from pets who damaged their rental properties.
One way to get around paying pet rent may be to offer your landlord the same amount of money per year as a refundable pet deposit. This way, your landlord can recoup any repair costs if your pets ends up causing property damage, and you have the opportunity to get your pet deposit back when your lease expires and you move out.
Another way to potentially avoid paying pet rent is to offer to sign a longer lease than usual. Most leases are for 6 months or 1 year. Remember what we said above about landlords having mortgages to pay and therefore preferring not to have their rental properties sit empty? Many landlords would gladly waive pet rent for a dependable tenant who signs a lease for 2 years or longer.
Now, imagine how effectively you could renegotiate a pet fee if you combine the above two approaches by offering both a refundable pet deposit and an extended lease?
Some additional steps you can take to negotiate pet fees are to establish that your pet is unlikely to cause any property damage. The most common and successful ways to do this are to get a reference from a previous landlord, or from a vet. Certificates for behavioral training are another good addition.These and other attestations of your pet’s good behavior can be combined into a pet resumé and offered to your prospective landlord as proof that your pet won’t damage their property.
Your landlord will still probably want some kind of financial incentive or insurance, such as a refundable pet deposit, but if that’s how to get out of paying pet rent in your state, our suggestion is to do so.
Is Pet Rent Normal?
Pet rent may feel unfair, but it can be pretty normal depending on where you live and who you rent from. Corporate-owned apartments are more likely to add pet rent clauses than buildings owned by one person. Pet rent is often an attractive option for large companies with many rental units because it can add a substantial amount to their profit margin over time, tends to be more than adequate for paying repair costs, and requires less work from leasing agents and property managers than something like a refundable pet deposit. In some places, pet rent may be the most common or even preferred form of pet fee.
Is Pet Rent Legal?
Pet rent is legal in most states. While the wording of many statutes may seem a little vague, if they reference some kind of “non-refundable fee” for pets (or don’t have a statute at all), then chances are that pet rent is legal there. For additional information about pet rent’s legality by state, refer to this guide on pet deposit law by state and this guide on pet fees by state. When in doubt about whether or not pet rent is legal in your state, we recommend consulting with an attorney who specializes in landlord/tenant law.
One notable exception to the above is that it is generally illegal for landlords to charge certain kinds of pet fees for service animals.
Should You Pay Pet Rent?
If you’re reading articles on how to get out of paying pet rent, you are probably wondering if you should be paying it in the first place. In most cases it is legal for landlords to ask you to pay pet rent. However, a few things may impact whether you should try to negotiate your way out of paying pet rent:
Type of Pet: if you caged pets like reptiles or birds, pet rent will probably be an unnecessary additional expense. However, if your pet is a commonly restricted dog breed, like a German Shepherd, Mastiff, Great Dane, Pit Bull, or Rottweiler, you may count yourself lucky to have found a landlord who will rent to you and your pet in the first place. You can still try to negotiate pet rent, but it may be a lot more challenging.
Amount of Pets: one docile, medium-haired cat is different from three long-haired cats. If you have more than one pet, the amount of potential wear and tear they could cause may make getting out of paying pet rent close to impossible.
Pet Behavior: if your pet is well-behaved, and you’ve been able to leave past rentals spotless or without more than regular wear and tear, and you have the references to vouch for it, you shouldn’t have to pay pet rent and can most likely negotiate with your landlord for some other kind of pet fee, like a refundable pet deposit.
Length of Your Lease: the longer you rent a place, the more the monthly pet rent can add up and become an unfair expense compared to the possible damage and cost of repairs. If your lease is for longer than 1 year it makes sense to try to negotiate your way out of paying pet rent in favor of a refundable pet deposit.
Is Pet Rent Ridiculous?
Like many landlord requests and behaviors, pet rent can feel ridiculous and unfair, especially if you’re also asked to pay additional fees like a pet deposit on top of the usual security deposit, too. It probably already feels as though pet fees are too high, and piling on more expenses isn’t likely to make renters happy.
However, it can be helpful to see things from your landlord’s perspective sometimes, and to consider why they may be requiring you to pay pet rent. It’s usually because they’ve been burned in the past by being too trusting, and an irresponsible tenant with an unruly pet ended up costing them a lot of money. Or maybe the landlord wasn’t very experienced at operating rentals in the past, and lost money due to damage from multiple pets that wasn’t offset by a pet deposit.
Whatever the reason, if you want to figure out how to get out of paying pet rent, it’s our opinion that the process of doing so starts with listening to and understanding your landlord’s perspective and concerns, and then carefully and politely addressing each of those concerns in your negotiations with them. Good luck!