How Much Is a Typical Pet Deposit?

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When it’s time to negotiate the terms of a lease, tenants who own pets may be wondering about a reasonable amount for a pet deposit. However, the short answer to this question is that there is no typical pet deposit, and this amount of money has a lot to do with the specific factors of every individual case.

Pet deposit amounts can vary due to the cost of living in a location, what kind of pets must be covered, the landlord’s philosophy toward leasing at their property, and their past experience with pet owners as tenants.

What a Pet Deposit Covers

Typically, a pet deposit has to be enough to cover theoretical damage to the rental unit caused by the renter’s pet or pets. That means that a larger pet will typically generate a larger pet deposit. Some tenants remember the days when a pet deposit for a cat was as low as $50 or so. Today, that amount may be much higher. Landlords figure pet deposits to cover any potential damage to carpeting, walls, wood floors or other areas of the apartment or house that they are renting. Even an aquarium can generate a high pet deposit, because of the potential damage in the case of breakage.

Negotiating Your Pet Deposit

The best a tenant can do to keep a pet deposit low is to talk directly to the landlord at the time when the lease agreement is in front of both parties. Sometimes, if the renter can convince the landlord that their pet will be safe for the rental unit, they can bring a pet deposit down significantly. Some landlords may be concerned about theoretical damage because of past tenants. They may be worried, for example, that pets will urinate on carpet, or that cat litter will be disposed of through flushing it down the toilet, or even dumping it outside of the unit. Good tenants can convince their landlords that these things will not happen, and they may be able to lower the pet deposit significantly.

Managing a pet deposit comes down to an agreement between the two parties, the landlord and tenant. Talking over a pet deposit is a good opportunity to start a dialogue about the larger issue of a security deposit on the unit and what it means for the day when the renters will eventually move out. Because security deposits have become such a large issue, it’s really beneficial to get at least a verbal understanding up front, to prevent misunderstandings, and even legal battles, when it’s time to settle with the landlord months or years later.

All of the subjective factors in calculating a pet deposit can be frustrating, but if you think of the deposit as covering a specific amount of damage, you can get a clearer picture of what you will have to pay to move your dog or cat in with you. Renters should be aware that any damage to the rental will be taken out of either a pet deposit or a security deposit, or both.

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