Hear that loud angry scream? If it’s coming from a property rental office it might be a renter’s reaction to having to pay pet rent on top of an already steep housing rent. We’re not talking about the extra, one-time pet deposit, but that extra $25 to $75 a month rent some places charge. Ouch. If you don’t understand why you have to pay extra for a pet that will be living in a space you’re already renting, you’re not alone. This should help.
Pet Deposit versus Pet Rent. What’s the Difference?
Renters pay a deposit to live in the house or apartment they’re renting. This deposit is supposed to cover any damages you or your guests may cause to the property while you’re living there. It’s generally a one-time fee. Depending on the terms of your agreement, you may or not get your deposit back when you leave.
Pet deposits are the same sort of thing. Pets can damage a house or apartment more than a person. They may not spill beer on the carpet, but they often pee, barf, poop, drool and spray on it. They can ruin carpets, scratch floors and doors, destroy a hardwood finish, chew up fixtures, cause flea infestations, and leave a urine or other odor in the wood or walls that can’t removed through simple washing. That’s not how you see your faithful, furry friend, but it’s how your landlord sees them even if he has pets of his own. He’s not thinking animal love, he’s thinking about protecting his investment. And face it you would be too.
The cost of pet damage is often greater than your regular rental deposit can cover. So many property owners charge an extra deposit, usually based on the size or kind of animal. Larger pets are presumed to be more destructive, so you may pay more for a dog than a cat, and more for a Great Dane than a Chihuahua. Now you can see why Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan bought his own property. The pet deposit on his dogs alone could cover the mortgage on Centre City!
A pet deposit may or may not be a one-time fee. Some property owners make the fee an annual charge in lieu of charging pet rent, some do not. Pet deposits are generally not refundable, but check the terms of your agreement before you sign.
Is Pet Rent Legal?
According to California law, pet rent is indeed legal. As long as the landlord, management company or property owner isn’t discriminating against you they can enforce their pet rent fees. However, if you have a service animal, such as a Seeing Eye dog, you are exempt from extra fees.
How Can Landlords Justify Pet Rent?
Some properties use your non-refundable pet deposit to help offset the cost of the extra maintenance needed when there are pets. Others rely on pet rent fees in addition to the deposit. Every property is different, so check the terms of your contract before you sign.
Extra fees are usually justified by the cost to the property owner for the extra expenses they incur when there are animals on the property. Pet rent is often used to help offset the cost of controlling outside fleas and pests that tend to be attracted to animals and their feces.
Even if you always pick up after your pet, you’re the one in a million who does.
Not everyone cleans up after their animals, so property owners use pet fees to help offset the cost of collecting and disposing of animal feces. Even if you’re bagging and disposing of the droppings properly there are still costs associated with disposal. Because the high nitrogen content of animal urine and the by-products of feces that aren’t entirely picked up destroys grass and plants there are extra costs incurred in landscaping, watering and maintenance of animal inhabited properties.
Pets cause wear and tear on public areas, like lobbies, stairways, hallways and elevators. Pet rent helps offset these costs as well.
If you don’t have a pet and there’s any chance at all you might get one after you move, then check the policies at your new rental to be sure you’re compliant; because landlords also have the right to evict you if you’re not.