Cats and dogs are more than good friends and family members. For landlords, they can also be good business. In 2014, 72 percent of apartment renters had a pet. And a study by FIREPAW, Inc. shows tenants with pets tend to stay in their rental homes an average of 48 months, while people without pets often move after just 18 months.
But like humans, animal companions can cause property damage. And they can annoy the neighbors. So does it make sense to charge extra for pets? And what is a reasonable pet deposit fee?
Nationwide, most landlords who have pet deposits or pet fees charge $300-$400. A pet deposit is refundable when the tenants move if the animals haven't damaged the property. A pet fee is not refundable, even if the animals cause no damage. But check your state laws before you charge either. Non-refundable pet deposits are illegal in some states, including California, Montana and Hawaii.
It's also illegal in some states to use a pet deposit fee for anything but repairing damage caused by the tenant's pets. And if you charge both a pet deposit fee and a security deposit, it's illegal in some states to use the security deposit to repair damage caused by animals.
Alternatives To Pet Deposit Fees
A pet deposit fee can be a stumbling block for some tenants who are already facing security deposits and may still have some rent to pay on their old homes. If you decide to forgo the pet deposit or pet fee, there are other ways to recoup your expenses if a tenant's animals damage your property.
- Insist that your tenant purchase renter's insurance that includes damage done by pets. That will cover cleaning and repairs when the person moves.
- Add an additional charge to your tenant's monthly rent. Nationwide, pet rents can range from $10-$50 a month or even more. And some landlords charge an additional fee for each animal.
- Plan on using the tenant's security deposit to repair any damage caused by the person's animals. That will give you more money to work with, too.
Keep It Affordable
One of the most common reasons for relinquishing companion animals to shelters is lack of housing. Even in areas where pet friendly housing is abundant, many people cannot afford the extra fees. As you're establishing your pet deposit fee, think about what's manageable for potential tenants in your area and what seems fair.
A reasonable pet deposit fee can be different in different parts of the country and even in different neighborhoods. While you want to protect yourself from damage caused by your tenants' animals, you don't want to scare potential tenants away.