Renting with pets can come with what feels like a laundry list of extra fees and charges that can be frustrating, as well as hard to decipher, if you don’t know exactly what to look for. In this piece, we’ll break down the different charges you’ll most likely run into from landlords regarding your pets, so you can find a place that best suits you and your furry best buddy.
There are a few types of charges that you’ll typically run into when renting with pets: Pet Deposits, Pet Rent, and Pet Fees. But what are the important differences between each?
Pet Deposits are a one-time payment at the start of a lease that are fully refundable if certain conditions are met upon moving out. Pet Rent is a monthly, recurring payment on top of your normal rent. Pet Fees are a one-time non-refundable payment to allow pets to stay in the rental.
There are some other nuances to consider about pet costs, and they can vary pretty widely in how much they’ll set you and your pet back. Let’s dig into the specifics of Pet Deposits, Pet Rent, and Pet Fees to get an idea which you should be paying, and for how much.
Similar to a traditional security deposit that you’d expect to pay with a typical rental, pet deposits are additional charges on top of the rent that go toward covering any additional wear and tear our furry companions invariably bring with them. It’s common for this to be a percentage of the monthly rental cost, just like the security deposit, though it’s also not uncommon to run across a simple, flat rate for pet deposits. Pet deposits will generally run you anywhere between $100 to $600, although again, this is often related to how much you’re expecting to pay in monthly rent. It’s common for pet deposits to be in the neighborhood of 1 to 2 month’s rent and are generally collected at the time of move in, along with any other security deposits.
These deposits are collected and used to cover damage that pets can cause to apartments and homes, whether that’s tearing up carpets, damaging walls, pet-related stains and odors, and etc. If you manage to prevent any undue wear or accidents related to your pet during your rental period, you’ll likely be eligible to receive some, or all (if you’re lucky) of this deposit fee back at the time you decide to move out. This is an area where looking into the specifics, and verifying them with your potential landlord ahead of time can save you a lot of pain and suffering down the road.
Say, for example, you’ve left your dog home alone on the Fourth of July. When you come home to a disaster zone because Fido just couldn’t handle the loud fireworks, you’ll at least have a sense of what you could be looking at as far as any financial ramifications for your dog’s behavior. It’s always a good idea to ask specific questions during the rental vetting process:
- What happens if my dog pees on the carpet?
- What if my cat shreds the curtains?
- Will I be charged extra if my pet breaks something?
Once you’ve toured a prospective apartment or home, you’ll have a better sense of what possible problem areas could be, so you can formulate some more targeted questions about what might be an issue for the specific rental, and your unique pet.
If the rental has a yard or outside area, for example, you’ll want to verify what kind of activity/wear is considered normal for the rental, and what could cause some additional monetary headaches for you. If, say, your beloved Jack Russell terrier has tunneled to China one day while you were at work, it’ll be nice to know in advance if you need to produce some extra cash, or if you can head to the local home store after a shovel and some turf to repair the damage yourself.
You’ll also likely run across rentals that charge a monthly fee for pets. Known commonly as pet rent, this is an additional cost you take on to have your pet with you each and every month. Like your own monthly rent, pet rent is generally not refundable, as landlords charge this simply for your pet to live alongside you in their buildings or homes.
If you have more than one pet, this is where you’ll want to confirm with your landlord whether or not there will be additional rent for each animal, or if the fee covers any and all animals that live will live with you.
Learn the Pet Fee Rules
Most states have laws pertaining to pet rents, deposits, and pet-related fees. To make sure you’re not being swindled, and that your prospective landlord is on the up and up — do some light research to learn what your area requires of both you as a tenant, and of landlords when it comes to non-human tenants.
Verify state & local laws relating to pet rent and deposits.
For example, the state of Oregon is considering a ban on all ‘pet rent’ policies, which would mean that recurring monthly fees associated with housing your pets would not be allowed. In this case however, landlords would still be within their rights to charge a one-time deposit or fee at that time of move in to cover pet-related housing issues.
You’ll want to look into the relevant laws as well to make sure you’re not inadvertently violating any of them as a tenant with a pet(s.) And if you’re tempted to try to sneak in your 80lb dog to a rental that accepts ‘small dogs,’ it would be wise to know what, if any, legal ramifications you could expect from your landlord, as well as what rights you have as a tenant with your specific pet. There are also some areas that ban certain types of pets altogether, so if you’re dog owner, for example, doing your homework to understand common dog breed restrictions will help you stay safe and proactive throughout both the rental search and renting process.
Almost all rental housing that accepts pet tenants will charge some manner of fee for those pets. Some of these fees are non-refundable (known often as pet rent) and others can be refunded if you manage to keep your lodging in good repair and prevent your favorite four-legged friend from doing any noticeable or irreparable damage.
Pet deposits are generally the most common form of charges you’ll see for pets of all sizes and species. These are usually flat fees charged alongside a security deposit. Pet rent, by comparison, is a monthly fee landlords may charge for your pet.
You might also come across miscellaneous charges labeled ‘pet fees,’ which can take the form of either a one-time fee just to able to have pets living with you, or recurring charges you can expect as long as you have a pet in your rental. In the case of pet fees, it’s always a good idea to get in writing what is expected as far as the fee payment and scheduling.
Pet Deposit FAQs
How much is a typical/average pet deposit?
On average, a typical pet deposit will cost between $300-$400. Pet deposits are paid up-front at the start of a new lease, and are usually refunded after you move, assuming that your pet didn’t cause any damage to the property.
What does a pet deposit cover?
A pet deposit is intended to cover any property damage caused by tenant’s pets. Pet deposits are not intended to be used to pay for the general repairs and cleaning needed to turn over a rental – it has to be applied toward damage caused by pets, only.
Are pet deposits refundable?
Yes, pet deposits are refundable if your pet didn’t cause any damage to the property that needs repairing. If your pet damaged the rental property, your landlord can use your pet deposit to pay for repairs. If you’re concerned about your pet deposit being refunded to you after moving out, there are things you can proactively do to make sure that you get your pet deposit back.
Pet Rent FAQs
What is pet rent used for?
Pet rent is typically used to cover the anticipated cost of extra wear and tear on a rental caused by pets. Pet rent is also often used to cover property damage caused by pets, and to pay for extra yard maintenance for pets that spend a lot of time outside.
How much is typical pet rent?
Typical pet rent varies from as little as $10/month to $60 or more per month. On average, you can safely expect to pay about $50/month for pet rent. Service animals for tenants with disabilities are exempt from pet rent, thanks to Fair Housing laws.
Is pet rent per pet?
Pet rent is typically charged for each individual pet that lives in your rental. The monthly cost for each pet might vary by the type of pet, or even size and breed. For example: renters with several large dogs should expect to pay more in pet rent than a renter with a cat or small dog.
Pet Fee FAQs
Are pet fees charged monthly?
Not usually. Pet fees are typically a non-refundable fee charged either once at the beginning of a lease to cover any potential damage caused by your pets, or for particular incidents during the course of your lease where your pets cause damage. If your landlord charges you a monthly fee for having pets, you’re likely paying what’s called pet rent.
How much are pet fees?
A one-time pet fee paid up-front at the start of lease is typically between $200 and $500, depending on the type of pet you have, and its size or breed. Pet fees that are charged for specific occurrences of damage to property (like if your dog decides that the curtains would look much better shredded and torn) typically equal the cost of repairing or replacing whatever was damaged.
What do pet fees cover?
Pet fees are usually intended to be a one-time fee to allow pets to live in a rental. But pet fees can also be charged to cover specific occurrences of property damage caused by pets. Used in this way, pet fees will usually cover the cost of repair or replacement for whatever your pet damaged or destroyed. Naturally, this kind of pet fee can vary widely in cost.