What you should know about 'pet rent'

Pet deposits are common when renting apartments. But are monthly dog and cat fees worth it?

By MSN Real Estate partner Nov 8, 2013 10:34AM

© Russell Glenister, image100, CorbisBy Angela Colley, realtor.com

 

When you move into a rental, you know you’ll have to pay the rent each month. But what about your pet? Four-legged family members can get slapped with monthly dues too — it’s often called "pet rent," and you may be faced with paying it.

 

But should you?

 

Typically, pet owners pay an additional deposit during the lease signing that covers any wear and tear the pet does to the rental. Pet rent, which is becoming more common, especially in corporate-owned apartment complexes, works differently.

 

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With pet rent you'll pay a monthly fee as long as you and your pet live in the rental. The fee is relatively small — usually $35 or less — and is considered a discretionary charge, meaning the landlord can legally include this extra charge in your lease in most cases.

On the surface, pet rent may seem like just another way for a landlord to make money off a tenant, but some landlords argue that pets cause extra wear and tear on the apartment building and require additional maintenance. For example, pet rent covers damage to landscaping or wear and tear on carpets in the lobby.

 

Advantages
While it may not seem as though there is any advantage to paying another rental fee, you might get a better deal by paying pet rent. Say, for example, you're comparing two apartment complexes with similar apartments. One complex charges $985 a month with a $300 nonrefundable pet deposit and no pet rent. The other charges $900 a month with a $150 refundable deposit and $15 a month pet rent. For a 12-month lease at the first complex, you’d pay $12,120. But you'd only pay $11,130 at the second complex and may get back your $150 refundable pet deposit.

Being willing to pay a pet deposit could give you more rental options, especially if you have a special circumstance. While many landlords are only willing to allow pets with specific rules, such as one pet per household or a small weight limit, other landlords may be willing to accept your three cats or large dog if you agree to pay a monthly fee.

 

Disadvantages
Pet rent also has a few big disadvantages — namely, paying another fee that will add up over the course of the lease. Say, for example, you sign a 12-month lease with a $25 pet rent fee. Over the course of the lease, you’ll end up paying an extra $300.

If you’re a long-term renter, a small monthly fee becomes an even bigger deal. If you renew your lease for another year you'll pay $600 in total, and if you decide to stay put for five years you'll end up paying $1,500 in pet rent alone.

 

Alternatives
While you could simply walk away from any rental with pet rent, you might have luck negotiating with the landlord. For example, if you're planning on staying in a rental for a year or more and know your pet won't cause problems, you could use that information as leverage and offer to sign a longer lease in lieu of paying pet rent. You could also offer to pay a higher upfront pet deposit to cover any wear or tear your pet causes to the building. It may not work, but many landlords are willing to negotiate with tenants.

 

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Tags: rentals
 
43Comments
Nov 13, 2013 10:01PM
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I worked at a property management company for several years. I agree with what people are saying about kids being the most destructive overall. Not to stereotype but typically younger mothers with kids were typically the worst. It was almost as though some parents just let their kids do whatever they wanted - drawing on the walls, juice stains, holes in the walls. One time we were showing a place to a new potential tenant and had let the current tenant know over a week in advance. When we showed up, the kids were running around, there was vomit in the toilet, and in the kids room there was feces smeared all over the walls. My boss called CPS to report the living conditions although I am not sure anything was done.

As far as animals go, I would say that it depends on the animal. But even if the animal is well-behaved - things can happen. When I was in college we used to have a german shepard mix who was very well behaved and we never had any problems with him. One day we were delayed about two hours coming home from work because of a snow storm. When we got back, our dog had tore up our couch and scratched the front door pretty badly. Our vet thought it was just a bad case of anxiety - he probably got worried since we weren't home yet and started going nuts. Needless to say, we didn't get our deposit back. :-(

Nov 13, 2013 6:08PM
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Pet rent is total B.S., it's another way of getting more out of a renter .

 

Nov 13, 2013 4:27PM
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I'm looking for an apartment in Brooklyn, NY...One of the property managers wanted an additional month's rent for my two French Bulldogs on top of the first and last month's rent as well as the broker's fee...4x$1685....You do the math...Just to move in.  LOL
Nov 13, 2013 4:06PM
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You really have to watch when landlords decide to get greedy and charge you not only a pet deposit, but pet rent on top of it! What's the point of the deposit if they make you pay extra every month anyways?
Nov 13, 2013 1:45PM
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A damage deposit covers damage no matter the cause...it doesn't matter if it's because of a cat or because of a toddler or because of a drunk guest or an idiot renter - damage is damage. And when they call it a "pet deposit" but it isn't refundable, that isn't a deposit, it's a FEE.
Nov 13, 2013 12:40PM
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I think it is ridiculous that pet owners be charged for "pet rent".  I have pets and keep my rental as if it were my own property.  I also teach my animals to act sensibly; little if any barking, the dog uses the bathroom outside, cats use the litter box and do not destroy or mark territory. On the other hand, I've known people with kids that destroy property; write on walls, knock holes in walls, disturb neighbors with crying, yelling, etc.  Do we charge "kid rent"?   Oh yeah, that would be unethical! 
Nov 13, 2013 9:29AM
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I have owned and rented houses most of my adult life and I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt....pets are going to cost you money as a landlord. I agree with ltw53186, if you want a pet, buy a house. The survey that showed 50% of pet owners would save their pet before saving a stranger should tell you everything you need to know about pet owners......and your property.
Nov 13, 2013 9:14AM
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Working as a agent, I find that if they have a pet and they do pay a fee, I put in the lease that when the pet dies that there will be no more pets! Fee will come off BUT the place will be inspected,repairs must be made by the tenants if any damages, new lease is drawn up! I will never understand WHY people who know they will have to rent go get a new puppy before they get a new place, Why do they do that?
Nov 13, 2013 8:37AM
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Working for a small rental company and owning a dog I feel for both sides.  One of the main reasons we will charge a pet rent is because of the wear and tear-not damages the dog does.  The main one being in apartments with forced air heating the dog hair can get into the heating systems and means more maintenance, which as of right now this is the only time we charge a pet rent.  

From watching the video I feel for this couple and their dogs.  But how can you think it is ok to have a litter of puppies (even if they are small) in an apartment building!  If you are going to be breeding your dogs you should be doing it in a home you own because puppies can cause a lot of damage just by being puppies.  
Nov 13, 2013 8:31AM
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Pet rent is fair. It helps pay for monthly costs of what the pets do to the property. Our apartments provide  pickup stations with a garbage and bags to help get people to pick up after their pets. And even still a lot of people do not and maintenance has to clean up after them. and regrass areas that are damaged. We got into our apartment on a no pet deposit or pet rent special, but I fully expect to do any repairs needed before we move, or pay for anything we do not do.
Nov 13, 2013 6:39AM
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Read the laws for your state. Service animals are the exception.
Nov 13, 2013 6:24AM
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Dogs have superior cardiovascular systems to humans and most are not suited for apartment living.  Dogs that aren't exercised properly become barking lawn/apartment ornaments.  THINK before you get a dog.  Research the breed and figure out if it is right for your lifestyle, and don't get one if you're not willing to make a commitment to walk the dog, spend time with the dog, and pick up after it every day for ten to twenty YEARS.
Nov 13, 2013 5:45AM
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I rented my home to a tenant with 2 small cute pets(1 cat and 1 dog). The home deposit was $1500 a month and the pet deposit was $350 each. Well the dog was not trained and pee and poop all over the carpet making stains and bad smell that could not be removed by professional carpet cleaners. The cat clawed the doors  and the wood strips along the baseboards of the walls. To make a long story short my income on that property minus the expenses(mortgage, repairs, replacements, cleaning, taxes) for the year was a loss. After 12 months the end result was a loss of $275.00 . Next time, I will ask for more deposit, pet rent or just avoid renting to people with pets because could be what makes or breaks your profit for the 12 months. I love pets but could not afford the damages caused by them.

Nov 13, 2013 4:17AM
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I paid a pet deposit of $300 in my last rental. When I left, I was told that the pet deposit was so I could "have" pets in the house but did not go towards anything (carpet; etc).  That to me is simply a scam to get more $$$ from a tenant.  If you're going to use the non-refundable deposit towards any damage, so be it - I get it.  But my animals didn't do damage.  Rather than do these deposits; either allow or not allow animals.  If I have animals, I'm willing to pay more for my rent as this is my choice.  But at the end of the lease, don't charge me for things that my additional rent should already have been paying for.
Nov 12, 2013 11:29PM
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I bought a four family building. A tenant who was there when I purchased the building moved out a year later. After his furniture was gone you could see the damage his two cats made. They clawed a 3 inch by 2 foot strip of carpeting right down to the wooden floor below. It looked like someone took a knife and cut a rectangle into the carpet and padding. This tenant had no pet deposit and I spent > $1000 to replace the carpet. Now, I don't care what a new tenant is willing to pay to keep an animal. NO DOGS OR CATS PERIOD. Other tenants in the building who have allergies or can't sleep because of barking dogs are happy. If you want pets, buy a house.

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