Pet Rent Explained

in Pets on by

If your landlord is asking you to pay pet rent even though a pet deposit was made, here are some reasons why this might be.

Is Pet Rent Legal?

Yes it is. As long as there is no discriminatory reason why you are being charged pet rent, the landlord or property management company can enforce it.

What is the Difference Between Pet Rent and a Deposit?

A pet deposit is money you put up front to have your pet move in. Just like your deposit, you are putting money down to ensure coverage in the case where any damage might occur. This is a one time fee. Often times, if damages occur, you will also have more out of pocket expenses.

Pet rent is charged on a monthly basis and is separate from the pet deposit. This monthly charge covers your pet actually being in your rental. Rentals are not required by law to allow pets to be on the premise, unless they are a service pet or involved with your functioning (such as a seeing-eye dog). Pets are considered a privilege.

You may also be required to pay a separate non-refundable pet fee when you move in.

How Does the Landlord Justify Pet Rent?

You can expect some type of wear and tear in a rental due to daily living. A human causes different wear than an animal. In this case, both can be charged separately.

From a renter’s point of view, the pet is taking up the space they are already paying for. From a property management’s point of view, they have a property to maintain and, when animals are on location, they can cause more wear than humans alone. These situations include an animal’s paws and nails on the hallway areas (that can ruin finishes), landscaping that gets ruined, animal feces and more. These are all items that require resources to be taken care of either by a janitor, outside vendor or other members of the complex.

Some pet friendly apartments are specifically created and suited for pet accommodations. They may have lush landscaping, a small pet park or more ground. These will typically cause higher pet rents.

A factor that can play a significant part in pet rent prices is the weight of the pet. Typically, the larger the animal, the larger your pet rent will be.

Are there Pet Friendly Apartments that do not Charge Pet Rent?

There are many apartments that do not charge pet rent. You can usually find this information on their website, or by simply contacting the complex. Although pet rent is not a standard, pet deposits are (both refundable and non-refundable). Take the time to ask questions before you sign your lease if you’ll have a pet residing with you.

33 Responses to “Pet Rent Explained”

  1. July 15, 2009 at 6:43 pm, Anonymous said:

    This article is misinformed. It does not take into account local laws. For example, pet fees are illegal in Massachusetts.

    Reply

  2. July 16, 2009 at 2:17 pm, Guest said:

    Local laws must always be taken into consideration but if each local law was listed, no article of this sort would ever be written and many renters would not understand the need for such fees. For example, many cities also add additional protected classes to the Fair Housing classes (such as sexual preference or student status). These are not listed in the main 7 protected classes but are added in certain locations. If each of these individual variances were noted, however, the length of the article would be so great that it would result in lack of publication.

    This is a general article and although they should mention that some states do not allow pet rent, it is important still to mention that at least in MOST states, it is not illegal (it certainly is not illegal here in Michigan and based on the ammount of very large dogs in my community providing additional work for my groundskeeper, I have no issue with charging it).

    Reply

  3. July 19, 2009 at 9:17 pm, Tami said:

    Does anyone know how I can get a bill passed to get pet rent regulated in Colorado? Although not illegal in Colorado Springs where I live, I am finding it is being abused by apartment complexes all over the city. I have a dog and a cat and have lived with them in apartments for almost five years. Neither of the complexes I have lived in has used my monthly pet rent for the overall good of pets. Complexes in general seem to be taking the enormous amount of money they are getting every month in pet rent and using it for their financial survival. Neither of the complexes I have lived in have anyone pick up feces – it has been all over the place in both complexes. The pick up bags that were supplied in one complex sometimes took over 4 weeks to replace. In the complex I live in now there is only one dog station for the entire complex. There are bald spots all over the grass maybe from dogs, maybe not, but the grass is not being repaired. Neither of my animals have ever caused any damage, so where does my pet rent money go? If these complexes were actually using the money for additional lawn upkeep, to pay someone to pick up all the feces, to provide a play space for dogs, to keep the pet stations clean, I could justify the rent, but none of that is happening. I paid $20.00 per month (a total of $840.00) in one complex and now $30.00 per month in the current complex I live in. At the end of my current lease I will have paid $720 in pet rent here. For two pets that never caused damage.

    Children can cause more damage than pets but don’t get charged “child rent”. It can cost 3 times as much to clean an apartment where a smoker lived but there is no such thing as “smokers rent”, yet here in CS there is pet rent charge and not being used for pets!! And I hate the thought of my hard earned money that I struggle for, making $12.00 per hour to be used to pay for damage in an apartment where someone else’s pets lived! That is an outrageous thought to me!

    I understand the basic premise of pet rent, but am not seeing that the original intent is being carried out in any of the complexes I have been in or lived in. Let’s say a large apartment complex collects an average of $9,000 per month in pet rent – very conceivable with the huge complexes here in CS – and you still see feces everywhere, grass that isn’t kept up and pick up bags not being replaced on time…..makes me pretty angry!!!

    Reply

  4. July 22, 2009 at 8:14 pm, Alice said:

    I so very much agree with Tami above!! I have lived in apartments for approximately 20 yrs. and with 2 cats. I have been charged rent, paid enormous deposits–some returned, some partially returned. My opinion is, if it is a privilege to have a pet, then it is most certainly a privilege to have a child!!! The problem, in this country (as I see it) is that far too many people simply do not care about themselves, thus they do not care about each other, nor do they care for any property–their’s or otherwise. Pet rent is ridiculous and discriminatory…yet I do see why it is allowed. The problem is NOT the animal/pet…it is the human who is supposed to be taking care of the pet. I have seen more homes/apartments damaged by humans than by a pet or pets alone. It is simply absurd!! If we were a kindler, gentler, more compassionate society we would not only treat ourselves better, but others as well…and this includes housing costs, etc. “Being privileged” to live with a pet is very good for our well-being…studies have shown this to be true…both medical and psychological. It is a shame that we still largely live in a double-standard, self-absorbed, greedy, no-common-sense, indifferent society. This will change, because it must. What we’ve been doing is no longer working for the majority of people.

    Reply

  5. August 12, 2009 at 11:52 am, Anonymous said:

    In response to Guest’s comment above:

    “This is a general article and although they should mention that some states do not allow pet rent, it is important still to mention that at least in MOST states, it is not illegal (it certainly is not illegal here in Michigan and based on the ammount of very large dogs in my community providing additional work for my groundskeeper, I have no issue with charging it).”

    Does anyone know if pet rent is legal or illegal in the state of Pennsylvania? I completely understand the wear and tear that pets can cause (but, again, like Tami so correctly pointed out, children cause as much, if not MORE, damage to units and property), but our landlord doesn’t actually DO any pet maintenance (ie: picking up dog messes, steam cleaning and/or replacing carpets before new tenants move in, re-painting walls and/or doors that animals have scraped up, etc.) So the justification for pet rent goes right out the window.

    Reply

  6. February 09, 2010 at 10:31 pm, Elizabth said:

    I think if your paying pet rent and a pet deposit just like u would recieve your own deposit back if the apartment is left how it was when you moved in then the same should apply for your pet it also should be refundable.

    Reply

  7. April 30, 2010 at 1:24 am, Chrissypoo said:

    In this renters market, refuse to pay pet rent. There is no logicial reason for it other than to increase your rent.

    If they say that pet rent is for the extra damage that pets do on apartments, counter with the fact that is the purpose of pet deposits which are fully refundable.

    If everyone refused to pay this subtle way to raise your rent, landlords would stop trying to charge it. Tell them to remove the pent rent, or I don’t sign your lease.

    Reply

  8. June 30, 2010 at 5:29 pm, Steven said:

    I have rented all my adult life of 30+ years, and I have had cats. I have always taken care of my cats, although there are some people who don’t. I think the excuse of having pet rent to cover the cost of maintenance and capitalization of a rental property is a LAME excuse that just mask over the GREED that rental properties owners taking to squeeze every last dime out of a renters pocket.

    I pay a tenant back-ground check for credit etc when I rent a new place, so why don’t they consider that I have always had a good rental background? Because that apparently doesn’t matter as much as just making a fast buck.

    Because a lot of people find they no longer can afford to pay the high deposits and pet rents that have become common place in todays’ rental market, many people who do need housing are being forced to abandon their pets, and these animals end of in shelters and if they do not get adopted out then they are killed. LANDLORDS DONT CARE!

    If they could charge a deposit, fee and rent on CHILDREN, they would do that to, but they can’t because it is against the law. Children can cause for damage to a rental than a pet can, but that does not mean that families who have children would allow them to do so.

    I will not get rid of my pets, because I can no longer afford the rents and deposits that more and more landlords demand. I would rather become homeless, me and my pets will just leave the city for the rural areas where we can live in peace, and away from the greed of the cities.

    Reply

  9. August 13, 2011 at 12:48 am, Sciquest said:

    Many renters also forget that rents are negotiable. One could agree to pay the “pet rent” but offer that much less for the base rent (or really any price). Or offer the base rent without pet rent with a justification (indoor cat, large pet deposit for example). I think the notion of pet rent stinks, excpet maybe it’s reasonable where dog play/pooping facitilites are provded AND maintained. The concept of charging ongoing rent for possible damage is unreasonable: that’s what pet deposits are for. Unreasonable or not, if it’s legal and the market will bear it, they will charge it. I would definitely try to negotiate on it.

    Reply

  10. August 13, 2011 at 1:07 am, Sciquest said:

    And as for the argument that pets can cause more damage than is covered by the deposit, the law in CA says tenants are still responsible to pay for damage that exceeds deposits. Which is to say, the landlord can very well go after the tenant, even quite a while after they move out, to collect for excessive damage. Therefore the possibility of excess damage is not a valid justification for pet rent. Increased ongoing maintenance for common areas may be, though.

    Reply

  11. August 22, 2011 at 11:31 pm, Sherry said:

    It is easy for tenants not to understand pet rent because they aren’t left behind with unrine soaked carpets and pad and sometimes flooring underneath that needs to be replaced.

    It isnt a question of whether or not a pet will urinate in the home – it most definitely will. And likely over and over.

    So while it is easy to think “your” pet causes no damage- it most likely does. I am a landlord and I do not accept pets at all for this reason. Pet rent cant even cover the damage urine causes.

    Reply

  12. August 24, 2011 at 4:16 pm, ES said:

    I’m trying to understand whether the pet rent we paid for our cat in our current apartment in CT is legally refundable. CT law states that: (10) “Security deposit” means any advance rental payment other than an advance payment for the first month’s rent and a deposit for a key or any special equipment. It looks like this means that a pet deposit is considered a security deposit and is refundable. But I’m not clear on whether the pet rent would be included in this as well…

    Just a bit of background – a few years ago we fostered an indoor cat for 1.5 years and paid $25/month in pet rent which added up to $450 total. Our apartment has hardwood floors and tile throughout and the cat never made any kind of damage – no urine, no smells, no leftover litter etc. After the cat was gone our extremely allergic friend was able to sleep over in the apartment without any reaction whatsoever – that’s how well I cleaned up all the fur in the apartment. So if there is no damage and no deterrent to potential future renters with allergies, why shouldn’t the pet “rent” be refundable?

    Reply

  13. September 19, 2011 at 6:27 pm, Tony said:

    Pet rent? Awesome!!! I don’t have pets. I was thinking about getting a cat. Then I saw pet rent. Honestly, I think landlords should take it up a notch. Child rent!!! That’s right. Tenants should be charged a non-refundable child deposit and $25 extra per child.

    Between the urinating, pooping, potty training or lack of, bed wetting, using the walls as coloring books, the extra water, trash and sewer they use. We all know rug rats can do as much damage to an apartment as a pet.

    or Smokers rent? $25 extra per smoker.

    My point is. Your already being nailed for a pet deposit. Pet rent should be illegal.

    Reply

  14. November 03, 2011 at 4:24 pm, Moe said:

    *”rug rats” are the direct reflection of who raised them.
    Smoking should be prohibited, inside at least. It travels through the ventilation system.

    Reply

  15. November 03, 2011 at 4:29 pm, Moe said:

    I think Sherry is right, pets are hard on the units.
    A pet deposit is enough. With the market the way it is
    just raise the rents to compensate.

    Reply

  16. February 22, 2012 at 7:26 am, Anonymous said:

    I still see no justification for “pet rent”. Wear and tear would be covered in the pet deposit.

    Reply

  17. February 28, 2012 at 2:26 pm, Anonymous said:

    All well and good to p&m it’s always the “other” persons fault. As a landlord, you would not believe the damage caused by pets… many times exceeding deposits and more than small claims courts allow. If you want a pet and are responsible, that is great. Buy a house and let your pet ruin YOUR home.
    All animals use the carpets to defecate on at lease once. Having an animal is not the same as a child. You’ve never had to clean up after a tenant left. You cannnot imagine the smell and disgusting filth left by “responsible” pet owners.
    It doesn’t matter whether it’s a cat or dog, they still mark territory. They are animals, not people. I used to allow just a pet deposit, but now allow NO pets. All those who came before you taught me a valuable lessons.

    Reply

  18. April 19, 2012 at 6:58 pm, Melinda said:

    I pay a $20.00 a month pet fee for my dog. I no longer have the dog and the landlord still wants me to pay the pet fee for the remaining months of my lease! I’m trying to find something on line that will help me fight him on it but I feel like it’s such common sense to not charge someone a pet fee when they don’t have a pet that they never made a law about it. Any help? Do I actually have to pay this? I’m worried if I don’t pay it, he’ll withhold my security deposit when I move out.

    Reply

  19. July 26, 2012 at 10:30 pm, Fiona Petra said:

    This is propoganda of the ruling class. In many places, pet rent is illegal, as it should be.

    Reply

  20. August 01, 2012 at 8:06 pm, Sciquest said:

    In California for sure, and I think many other states, no renter’s deposit of any kind may be nonrefundable. A deposit that you can’t get back under any circumstances does not meet the definition of a deposit. Believe it or not, it doesn’t even meet the definition of a *nonrefundable* deposit.

    The term “nonrefundable deposit” is correctly used in a context where an amount is paid toward a future service or purchase, that if you back out and don’t buy the product or service, you don’t get the deposit back; but if you go through with it, you are still credited the amount of the deposit toward price of the purchase or service. Even a “nonrefundable” deposit, where this term is used correctly, is ialwaysrefundable (or creditable) when conditions of the agreement are met.

    Reply

  21. August 01, 2012 at 8:17 pm, Sciquest said:

    A refundable deposit for pet damage is reasonable. Pet rent is not.

    To the rationale, it’s irrelevant whether the pet causes excess wear and tear – i.e. more than what a typical number of humans living in the apartment would cause through normal use – because the landlord is already entitled to withhold money from the security deposit and/or pet deposit for excess wear and tear.

    The market is what it is, and landlords are free to charge whatever rent people are willing to pay, but renters need to remember they too are free to negotiate on rent. I agree with the comment above, that “pet rent” is propaganda used to make renters believe it’s not negotiable.

    Reply

  22. November 25, 2012 at 3:07 am, Mike said:

    Yeah “pet rent” is complete crap. The complex I live in charges $35 a month and the carpet already needed replaced when I moved in! They refused to replace it because they “can’t afford it” and running a steam vac results in pure black water. My wife spent an entire day steam vaccing the carpet, and was still getting black water. It looked much better than before when they had “had it professionally cleaned twice”, but it is still disgusting.

    We got this place while I was getting out of the military. My wife came down to see the apartment, but was shown a “model apartment” instead and wasn’t told that. We signed paperwork so we would have somewhere to live right away and we THOUGHT they were being nice and helping us. This place is just all around shady and I can’t wait until our contract is up.

    Reply

  23. February 13, 2013 at 1:14 pm, Melody said:

    I’ve seen some awful examples of gouging for pets. One complex wanted a $500 non-refundable pet fee, per pet. Another wanted a $300 pet fee for one pet with an additional $150 for a second pet and $15 pet rent per month, per pet. There’s only been ONE place that had a pet ‘deposit’ which is refundable. It was $350 total per pet with half of it being refundable. Everything else is a fee that they get to pocket. It’s no wonder that people attempt to sneak in pets and hide them!

    Unfortunately I live in Alabama, which is completely backward, so pretty much ANY charges are legal here. $200 ‘administrative fees’ are commonplace, plus your security deposit, plus $50+ per person application fees, plus any pet fees. More states really need to get with it and start making these ridiculous fees illegal.

    Reply

  24. March 15, 2013 at 3:16 pm, landlady said:

    Having a pet is a privilege. If you don’t want to pay the extra money either rent 1) rent some place else, 2) don’t have a pet, 3) buy your own property.

    Reply

  25. April 30, 2013 at 5:19 am, Jennifer R said:

    I think, and this is just my opinion you don’t have to agree, people with outdoor animals should be charged more, if you are going to charge pet rent for an indoor cat it should not be a crazy high cost. My cat has NEVER gone on the carpet either, so for the person who said they go at least once on the carpet is misinforming people.
    They say the pet rent is to cover cost of landscaping the grounds, for having areas for pets, etc.. well what about my cat who just lays down and hangs out, and doesn’t ever GO outside?? My kids are messier than my cat, I just don’t understand why pet rent needs to be charged for an indoor animal that isn’t imposing on anyone.

    Reply

  26. May 02, 2013 at 2:26 pm, Sally said:

    Does anyone know if an apartment management is allowed to change the monthly pet rent after you move in? In other words, we moved into the complex when it was still being built, and there was an introductory rate, and a low deposit and a low monthly pet fee. Years later, they are trying to say that I am not paying the right amount, and that I will have to pay what the new Tenants are paying, which would be $80; I am now paying $20. This is absurd, and I try to tell them to check their archived records, and that if they knew anything about “grandfather” clauses, they would know that I am paying the legal amount per my lease.

    Reply

  27. May 19, 2013 at 2:08 pm, josh said:

    Outdoor animals? not all dogs are meant to be left outside. In my experience working at animal shelters, cats are far filthier than dogs. My dog does not destroy anything in the apartment and yet I am being asked to pay $20 per month for nothing but the complex to pocket it. A family moved in downstairs from me with three children who play in the street, scratch my car constantly by dropping bicycles on it, and hit it with coconuts and other toys. These kids are nightmares, frankly im surprised that they don’t shit in the street. these people don’t have to pay anything extra for their destructive children. Also the whole breed restriction thing for pit bull’s is garbage, its equvilant to saying a black person can’t live here because they are black.

    Reply

  28. May 27, 2013 at 3:35 pm, Adree said:

    This is ridiculous!, most of the renters ask for a “non returnable pet deposit + pet rent”, so ‘wear and tear’ doesn’t it that come from the deposit itself? is that subtracted to the “human” deposit, since mentioned deposit covers ANY damage that occurs on the property while occupancy and the person that rents it is liable for any damage other than NORMAL aging of the property that were not there previous to the person moving in, hence the RENT AGREEMENT and specified liabilities. It is a scam and it should be illegal.

    Reply

  29. October 15, 2013 at 4:43 am, Josh B said:

    Gotta love all of these slumlords posting on here trying to defend their ridiculous “pet rent” scam.

    I can completely understand and sympathize with someone wanting to protect themselves from costly repairs when a tenant moves out of a unit, but it’s obvious that this is nothing more than an additional charge to sate their own greed.

    If this truly was just about covering potential damage to the unit then you would only be charged a refundable pet deposit, which is completely understandable. The pet deposit plus the normal deposit should be more than enough to cover the cost of any normal wear and tear caused by a pet.

    Any more than that is excessive and a special case.

    If they truly felt the need to charge more than what is allowed by law for rental deposits, and if it really was just about covering the expense of damages, then the monthly charge would also be refundable as well. They would save that money in a separate account, then survey the property for any unreasonable damage done, and if none were found then withdraw the funds from the account and return them to you when you move out.

    We as renters need to stand up to these tyrannical slumlord tactics, and tell them to kick rocks when they start asking for unreasonable additional charges.

    If enough people had the conviction to do this instead of sending their loving pets to the pound then we might actually see some real change when these slumlords start losing hundreds of dollars every month that the unit goes vacant.

    Reply

  30. October 30, 2013 at 10:18 am, Ashley A said:

    Here’s a good one…

    Back in 2007-2008, I rented a BRAND NEW (I was the first tenant) apartment in Arizona (known for bullying landlords as it is a landlord-friendly state). I was young and trusting and wanted to follow all of the rules so when they told me there was a deposit and pet rent for my dog, I obediently paid up.

    Here’s the thing: the dog never ended up moving in. I was working and going to school full-time and decided I just didn’t have the time to give her the attention that she needed. Instead, I let my parents keep her as theirs.

    The apartment complex would not allow me to remove the dog from the lease, even though she never moved in because it was “legally binding” and blah, blah, blah, so every month, I paid to have my dog there even though she had never stepped foot inside. Doesn’t that say something? So obviously, dogs being there makes them a lot of money. It is not about the damage the dog MIGHT do, it’s the fact that they get money for it. I even offered to let them come in whenever they wanted to inspect to make sure that I really did not have the dog. No can do.

    At the end of the lease, I moved out and didn’t hear another thing from them until an entire YEAR later, after I had moved to the east coast. Even though they had never contacted me until then, they claimed that my dog had peed all over the carpet and they were having to replace it, the padding and the sub-floor COMPLETELY throughout the ENTIRE apartment! (Remember: the dog had NEVER ONCE been inside of the apartment!) They even sent me pictures of carpet that they had torn up (from another unit) with dog pee and claimed it was MY apartment! Remember, this unit was BRAND NEW and my dog, nor any other animal had NEVER stepped foot in it!!! What’s worse? They sent me to a collections agency, demanding that I pay for the ENTIRE amount of the carpet replacement!!

    I had to get an attorney. After investigation, he discovered that the management was changing the carpets in ALL of its units (even though it was only about a year old) to a slightly darker color and was trying to stick it to people who had pets on their leases. I was not their only victim. Furthermore, in Arizona, a landlord has 14 business days in which to notify a former resident that they are asking for money for a repair. What really saved me was that they waited an entire year so whether or not the charges were legitimate, they had waited way too long to notify me so the argument was legally irrelevant.

    The management immediately removed me from collections and stopped pursuing me for the amount after my attorney contacted them because they knew they were going to be in big trouble if they didn’t since they had broken a few laws. He also informed me that this is something that happens often in Arizona – it wasn’t just one corrupt management company.

    Arizona’s court cases are publicly listed on their website. I searched for the management company and found pages and pages of cases where they were suing former tenants. I get that there are crummy tenants out here but come on, this is clearly an abuse of power at the expense of the taxpayers!

    On a side note, I later learned that the “non-refundable pet deposit” was actually illegal. In order for a deposit to be a deposit, it legally has to be applied toward the alleged damage that the landlord claims the deposit was protecting against. This is because the landlord gets to collect that money tax-free. If they do not apply the money, they are committing tax fraud. If, however, they call it a non-refundable FEE, they do not legally have to apply it toward damages, but they DO have to pay taxes on it. This management company was collecting illegal, tax-free dollars left and right all while still going after former tenants for false charges.

    As you can see, my story is a perfect example of how these “necessary fees/rent” (according to the landlords who have commented in this thread) were really just ways for the management company to line their pockets. It is greed, 100% and I am tired of the little guy always getting blamed for the big guy’s gluttony! There is a great deal of injustice in this world and it is becoming evident as our nation’s economy has been eroding away!

    So please, landlords, try to accept that there are two sides to this debacle. If you have a tenant whose pet caused damages, then charge them. If not, I really do not see how you ethically have the right to take their money from them for no reason. If it is money that you want, then charge more in rent all the way around but please stop insulting people with your nickling and diming scams, then try to morally justify it by accusing them of potentially doing something that they haven’t ever done! It isn’t right! You say that if we can’t handle the landlord’s pet rules, we should either not have a pet or find somewhere else to live. Well, I say that if you cannot behave ethically and socially responsibly, then maybe you shouldn’t be a landlord!

    Reply

  31. March 25, 2014 at 4:40 pm, Mike said:

    When my pet can get a job and sign a lease, she can pay pet rent. This notion is absolutely absurd, and I won’t do business with an apartment complex that charges pet rent. Not all of them do, and I’ll tell them why they’ve lost my business when I walk out.

    Reply

  32. April 01, 2014 at 9:28 pm, Diana said:

    Here is my question. In the eyes of the law, pets are property. So how can “property” be charged for rent? The deposit should be refundable if my indoor cat has done nothing to the property. For a 12 month lease I have paid $460 FOR NOTHING. I wish my cat would pee allover the place just so I can feel good about the extortion.

    Reply

  33. May 19, 2014 at 7:58 am, MadMax said:

    I was told I had to pay $50 per month in pet rent because it is a luxury to own a pet.

    Reply

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