Pet Fees: What to Expect
Our pets are valuable members of our families. We’re willing to search high and low for pet-friendly apartments and we accept that it may cost a little bit extra. Many states lack specific statutes regulating pet fees, so what — and whether — to charge is at the discretion of your landlord or property manager. This could lead to confusion and questions such as ‘are pet deposits refundable?’ and ‘does pet rent cover more than one pet?’
Here are three types of fees you might encounter when renting with a pet.
Like a security deposit, a pet deposit is generally refundable and covers damage to your unit caused by your pet. If your dog regularly pees on the carpet, or your cat uses the wall or floor as a scratching post, the cost to repaint, repair, or replace will be deducted from your pet deposit. If your pet leaves no evidence behind, you’ll likely get the whole deposit back.
Pet deposits vary widely depending on property policy and the size and type of pet you own. You may pay as little as $100, though it’s not uncommon to be asked for $400 to a month’s rent or more. If you already have a pet when you move in, some landlords may simply ask for a larger security deposit instead of breaking it down into two separate charges.
One-time pet fees are similar to pet deposits except that they are nonrefundable. Your landlord or property manager may require this simply as the price of entry for your pet. Fees may be as low as $100 or as high as $500 or more, again depending on size and breed.
Pet rent, like your regular rent, is a non-refundable fee that you pay every month. It can vary with size and breed — a cat may cost you $10, while a full-grown Saint Bernard may run at $50-$100. Rent is usually per pet.
Add it Up
Pets are expensive. Factor in the cost of food, regular and emergency vet visits, dog walking or daycare, and the toys and treats you can’t help but buy, and you’re looking at a significant monthly investment. Before you move into a new apartment with your furry friend — or bring one home for the first time — consider how a pet deposit, fee, or rent will affect your bottom line.
For example, if your landlord charges $30 in pet rent each month, you’re looking at an additional $360 each year. If you have a large dog and pay $50 per month, that’s $600 on top of your regular rent. Add in a one-time, non-refundable pet fee, and you may be out $500-$800 or more in your first year.
Of course, this isn’t a reason not to have a pet or to pass on your dream apartment, but it’s best to determine ahead of time whether the extra expense is within your budget. Ask about your options before you commit — if you’re an all-star tenant, your landlord or property manager may be flexible — and be sure to get everything in writing. You may be asked to sign a pet addendum to your lease, which will lay out any rules and expectations around pet ownership, payments, and care.
See Also: How to meet dog friends