Forget square footage, appliances, or water pressure, one of the most important questions for any home-hunting pet owner is: Can my dog or cat live here? Followed closely by: Do I need to pay pet or dog rent for my furriest roommate?
Pet rent has become an increasingly common part of rental arrangements, because more renters are looking for pet-friendly homes. And as calm and gentle as your best friend is, there’s a chance they might add a little extra wear and tear, or even some damages, to your rental. Maybe in the form of scratches on the front door or some muddy paw prints on the carpet. And while we know your dog would never dig holes in the yard to bury his bones, some dogs do. (Like, my dog.) And most landlords don’t want to foot the bill for canine or feline damages.
So, many landlords are turning to pet rent, pet fees, and pet deposits. Dog or cat rent varies depending on where you live and who you rent from. And landlords may also place breed restrictions or weight limits on pets.
If you’re trying to find the best home for you and your dog or cat, we’ll help you understand the ins-and-outs of pet rent, pet fees, and pet deposits. And give you some tips on how to reassure a landlord that you and your pet will be great tenants.
Pet Rent, Pet Deposit, and Pet Fees: What’s the difference?
Pet rent, pet deposits, and pet fees all sound similar, but there are a few key differences to consider. Like, what’s refundable (deposits), or not (rent and fees). As well as the size of each pet-related fee, which can range from small monthly costs to larger upfront deposits. You may also encounter landlords who charge per pet or ask for multiple pet-related fees.
Pros and cons of pet rent
Pet rent is a monthly charge that you pay on top of your base rent. If Lucky had a checkbook, it’s what he would fork over for his share of the rent each month. Dog or cat rent can be anywhere from $25 to $100 dollars a month, according to Zillow, and in some localities may be as low as $10 a month.
One of the biggest disadvantages to dog rent is that it can add up, especially if you’re in the rental for a bunch of months or years.
But dog rent has some advantages, too. It may be cheaper to take on a monthly pet rent instead of big, non-refundable pet fee. Some landlords also build pet rent into the monthly rent, so you may find a cheaper deal, even with pet rent.
Pros and cons of pet deposits
Pet deposits are one-time fees that you pay upfront, probably alongside a security deposit you’d normally pay to cover any property damage. Pet deposits are refundable and landlords can’t use them to cover regular wear and tear. Instead, pet deposits are in place to cover property damage caused directly by your pet. Like, scratches on the floor from the mad scramble to the door when the mailman knocks. (Again, maybe not your dog, but my dog, for sure.)
Pet deposits can be good for tenants because they’re refundable and they give you an extra incentive to make sure your pet is on her best behavior. The downside of deposits is that they can be on the larger side, the average pet deposit can be about 40 to 85 percent of a month’s rent, according to a study from Pet Finder.
Pros and cons of pet fees
Pet fees are a one-time fee to cover the costs of having pets in a rental. Pet fees are non-refundable and may vary by breed or size. Some landlords may also charge a fee for every pet and others add on a specific cleaning fee.
Pet fees can be good because they’re a one-and-done fee, but they’re non-refundable. And you may still get charged other fees for pet damages or wear-and-tear.
Like pet rent, pet fees can vary, running around $50 on the low end and upwards to around $500.
What Do Most Landlords Charge for Pets and Why?
Pet rent is becoming more common because more people are looking for pet-friendly housing. About 70 percent of US households own pets, which is up from 58 percent in 1988, according to the American Pet Products Association. And 60 percent of single-family renters have pets, Zillow reports.
Landlords are charging pet rent and fees to cover the extra wear and tear on their property. Larger apartment complexes are especially likely to charge pet rent. The average cost of pet rent is $10 to $100, but some landlords charge more for different breeds or larger animals.
Do You Have to Pay Pet Rent?
Landlords are generally allowed to charge pet rent. But some cities and states regulate how much a landlord can legally charge, especially for a deposit, so be sure to check your local laws. California, for example, has caps on how much the total security deposit can be. And other states prohibit nonrefundable pet fees.
If your pet is an Emotional Support Animal or service animal, you’re off the hook for pet rent. And you can even live in many rentals that don’t generally allow pets, as long as you qualify and fill out the appropriate paperwork.
How to Get Your Ideal Pet-Friendly Rental
When you’re looking for a good pet-friendly home, there are lots of things you can do to show the landlord that you and your pet will be great tenants.
- Show that you’re a responsible pet owner. Share pet references and pet history to demonstrate what a responsible pet owner you are. Ask a friend to talk about how much work you put into training your dog. You can also show that you have renters insurance or offer proof of pet training or vaccination records.
- Negotiate lower pet fees. If the pet fees are a little high for your ideal rental, you can attempt to negotiate lower charges with the landlord. Try agreeing to a longer lease or offering to pay a higher deposit upfront in exchange for a lower, or no, monthly charge.
- Arrange a meet and greet or introduce your pet over Zoom or Facetime. Find a way to introduce your pet to your landlord so you can let them see firsthand (or, first-paw) what a good boy or girl you have.
- Go over the pet parts of the lease with your landlord. Read all the rules that apply to your pet and chat with the landlord about any concerns. The pet portion of the lease may cover things like pet noise rules, pet poop cleanup, and pet rent.
- Make sure the unit is also right for you, not just the pets. While we all make a lot of decisions that prioritize our pets’ needs (ask me why I have a king-sized bed), make sure the rental also fits your needs. Make sure you consider the location, noise, and other important factors before you sign a lease for you and your pet.
Find our how one pet lover convinced her landlord to accept a very special kitty.
Takeaway: Do Your Rental Research
If you’re trying to rent with a pet, there’s a decent chance you’re going to have to pay an added fee for a pet-friendly home. Do your homework to find out what each landlord charges for pets and think about what makes the most sense for you. A smaller monthly fee like dog rent? Or, a one-time nonrefundable pet fee?
Don’t be afraid to talk to the landlord about renting with a pet. You can increase your chances to land the ideal pet-friendly home by showing the landlord what a responsible pet parent you are—and what a very good pet you have.