Pet Deposits, Pet Lease & Pet Charges: What’s Authorized to Accumulate?

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More than half of U.S. households – including tenants – have pets. Not all landlords allow pets, but those who do are advised to take special precautions to protect their property and minimize disputes. The following explains what types of pet deposit, special rental payments, and pet fees are allowed as a landlord.

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What types of deposit, rental and additional pet fees can I collect from tenants?

Additional pet deposits and non-refundable pet fees are prohibited in some states, while pet rentals (especially an additional monthly amount) are generally permitted in all states. Speak to a lawyer to understand the specific laws that govern your property.

In many states, the total amount that you can charge for a rental deposit is limited. In this case, you may need an additional pet deposit as long as it is not exceeded. For example, in California, landlords may require a deposit of up to two months 'rent for unfurnished rentals and up to three months' rent if furnished. In other states, an additional deposit is expressly provided for pets that does not take into account the limit values ​​set for general security services.

If non-refundable pet fees are allowed in your state, make sure your rental and deposit accurately reflects the additional costs that may be incurred by admitting pets. The pet deposit is between $ 100 and $ 300, but is generally proportional to the total rent in your area.

How much do I have to charge for renting pets?

Pet rentals are typically between $ 10 and $ 50 per pet per month, depending on the species. The key is to calculate a sufficient rent for pets to take into account the additional wear (shortly before the actual damage) that a pet can cause, although this is appropriate. If it is a tenant market, you want to stay competitive with other landlords. Allowing pets leads to additional demand for your rental property.

Do pets have to be refunded?

While some states allow non-refundable pet fees to have a pet in your rental, you should distinguish these fees from the deposit. As with any other rental deposit (and in accordance with state laws that regulate how these funds should be kept), a pet deposit minus any pet repair or cleaning costs must be refunded.

However, it's best to protect yourself and avoid disputes by specifying exactly how the funds were spent when you return the balance of the deposit. This can include photos documenting cases of damage or soiling caused by the pet, a detailed list of the measures taken to repair the damage, and amounts spent on repairing or cleaning the rental unit.

Does a pet deposit need to be used for pet-related expenses only?

It depends on your state or local laws. In some cases, you may not be able to use a pet deposit to cover damage that was not caused by the animal. A landlord's attorney can help you understand your options and best structure your deposit requirements.

Can I request a pet deposit for a service animal?

Generally no. Federal law prohibits landlords from requiring tenants with service animals to pay an additional rent or deposit, although they may charge a reasonable fee for damage caused by the pet. You can also move to drive a tenant away with a service animal that is under-trained and causes problems on the premises.

While you may not ask a prospective tenant about his medical diagnosis, you can request evidence that the servicing animal was actually "prescribed" by a doctor. They normally expect this request and provide the necessary documents.

Protect your investment

There is a lot to consider when renting to pet owners. Let potential tenants with pets fill out a pet application form as part of the review process. You also want to write down all rules and regulations related to pets, preferably with a pet addendum to the lease.

Since most tenants have (or want to) have pets, it may be in your interest as a landlord to welcome them to your property. Although you don't have to allow all pets, you need to be prepared for the worst. This includes charging reasonable pet, rental, and deposit fees that cover your risk and comply with government laws. Ask a lawyer if you have any further questions about this or other rental properties.

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