We love our pets.
They're no doubt a part of the family and according to a 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey, 85 million Americans own one. This is an increase of 56 percent from 1988, the first year the survey was conducted.
This indicates that many who own a pet are searching for apartments that are pet-friendly.
Adding a pet means you'll need a tenant pet agreement or include a pet clause in the lease, which may cost extra. The amount depends on a few factors, such as where you live (big cities like New York City may be more pet-friendly), the kind of pet you have and how many (if you have more than one).
Here's what you need to know if you're searching for a place and have a pet in tow.
Most pet-friendly places will typically charge a separate pet deposit, on top of the regular deposit. This is worked into the lease and covers any wear and tear to your unit from your pet. Like a security deposit, a pet deposit is generally refundable.
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 may get your deposit back. Other landlords may keep all or part of the pet deposit as a cleaning fee.
So, what's a reasonable pet deposit? How much should landlords charge for pets? These are questions that vary by individual landlords and buildings (if the apartment is run by a management company).
Keep in mind that some buildings may not even accept pets over a certain weight and size, which is completely legal. For example, some apartments don't accept pit bulls or put a restriction on the weight of the dog.
If your pet is a service or an emotional support animal, there are different rules (more on that later).
Yes, your pet can actually get charged rent in your tenant pet agreement — not to be confused with the pet deposit.
Pet rent, like your regular rent, is a non-refundable fee that you pay every month. Pet rent is becoming more common in corporate-owned apartment complexes.
The amount you're charged will vary with size and breed. For example, a cat may cost you $10, while a full-grown Saint Bernard may run at $50 to $100. Rent is usually charged per pet.
With pet rent, you should expect to pay a monthly fee as long as you and your pet live in the rental. The fee is considered a discretionary charge, meaning the landlord may legally include this extra charge in your lease.
Since rental laws are not the same in every state, it's a good idea to do some research in your area. For example, in California, it's legal for landlords to have a no-pet policy. If they do, they're allowed to charge a pet deposit and additional rent.
Also, there's a cap on how much a California landlord can charge for a pet deposit, and that price depends on whether the unit is furnished. It's illegal for the landlord to charge more than two months' worth of rent for an unfurnished unit, and cannot charge more than three months' rent for furnished units.
Non-refundable pet deposits are illegal in California.
Get familiar with tenant pet agreement laws in your state to minimize confusion. You should find out:
An Emotional Support Animal has the right to live with you, even if your building doesn't accept pets. In order to do this, you must have an emotional or mental disability that falls under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Then, you have to get an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional. Learn more about emotional support animals and the rules involved.
If you're having a difficult time finding a place, consider the following ways that may demonstrate you're a responsible pet owner.
While having your furry best friend by your side can be a joyful experience, it can also be difficult when searching for a rental.
Be sure to do the proper research, know your state laws and rights as a tenant and come prepared with your list of questions about fees related to your pet, including pet rent and the deposit.
Be sure to get it all in writing and include it in your pet lease agreement.