Renting With Animals: A Guide to Setting Pet Fees

By Alicia Geigel on May 20, 2024

For many households, pets are not just loyal, furry companions, but they are also cherished parts of the family. For renters, it can be difficult to find pet-friendly rental options, and for landlords and property managers, it can be tough to determine whether or not to allow pets in your property unit, or how to establish pet fees. As pets have the potential to cause damage to your rental property, it is smart to set pet fees to cover damage any pets can cause and help you recoup money put out to handle these damages.

There are a couple of different ways to establish pet fees for tenants with pets, and if you are a landlord or property manager who is considering allowing pets, here’s a guide to help you set pet fees.

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What is a Pet Addendum?

Before you start weighing the costs of pet fees, it’s important to include a pet addendum in the lease agreement. A pet addendum essentially details what your tenant is responsible for and what is tolerated in terms of having their pet reside in your property unit. According to Katie Gallagher of Zillow, an addendum should include “specific rules, regulations or policies related to pets on the property,” and ultimately, “gives the tenant permission to live in the rental with a pet if they agree to be responsible for the pet and any potential pet-related damages.”

What is a Pet Deposit?

Now that you have a pet addendum drawn up, the next step is to determine if you want to enforce a pet deposit and other fees like pet rent. A pet deposit is a one-time fee that is charged upfront to cover potential damage caused by pets in your property unit, such as a flea infestation in the carpet, scratches on the wall, urine and other stains to the floor, chewed-up furniture, damaged drywall, and more. A pet deposit, like a security deposit, is refundable, so if everything within your unit appears to be free from damage, you must refund the money back to the tenants when the lease agreement ends.  This type of deposit typically ranges between $200 and $500, depending on the type of pet, the size of the pet, and the number of pets a tenant has.

What is Pet Rent?

Separate from a pet deposit, pet rent is a recurring payment that is collected along with rent each month to cover the cost of potential damages that pets can cause. Per Angela Colley of Realtor.com, “With pet rent, you’ll pay a monthly fee as long as you and your pet live in the rental. It is considered a discretionary charge, meaning the landlord can legally include this extra charge in your lease in most cases.”

Pet rent fees are typically small, but determining how much to charge in pet rent can depend on a number of factors ranging from the type of pet to the number of pets a tenant has.

How Much Should You Charge in Pet Rent?

Figuring out the amount of pet rent you charge your tenant each month should be determined by the type of pet, the size of the pet, and the number of pets the tenant has. Generally, pet rent can range between $25 and $100, but here is a breakdown to help you figure out exactly how much to charge. For a small dog or cat, pet rent in the $25 to $50 range is reasonable, and for larger dogs or tenants with multiple pets, pet rent between $50 and $100 is appropriate. A pet that requires special, more nuanced care, like a reptile for example, may require a higher pet fee, so use your best judgment when determining this type of fee for unique pets.

How Are Pet Fees Collected?

Collecting pet fees doesn’t have to be a difficult process. As a landlord, you can collect pet fees with your tenant’s monthly rent payment, or you can include the pet fee into the rent payment so the tenant doesn’t have to worry about paying you a separate fee when rent time comes. In the case that you charge pet fees separately and your tenant fails to pay the fees, you can enforce a penalty fee. Ultimately, it is always important to work with your tenant if they are having trouble paying some or all of their rent payments, including the pet fees.

Setting pet fees as a landlord can seem like an elaborate process with multiple steps, but it is actually a streamlined process that can help protect your property and business from potential damage from pets if you have pet-friendly rental units. Depending on the tenant and the type and number of pets they own, you can determine if pet fees are appropriate to enforce.

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