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Home > General > Can Landlords Charge Extra For Pets? What to Know About Pet Rent!

Can Landlords Charge Extra For Pets? What to Know About Pet Rent!

old calico cat at home

If you are a pet owner looking for a new apartment, you might see listings requiring you to pay pet rent and wonder if that’s legal. Unfortunately, it is legal for landlords to charge extra for pets, so you might need to spend a bit more than non-pet owners for an apartment. Keep reading as we look at the different ways that a landlord might charge for pets so you can determine if the charges are fair and worth paying.


The 3 Types of Pet Charges

1. Pet Fee

A pet fee is a one-time charge that you pay the landlord when you move in. The price can vary dramatically, but it’s usually $200 to $600 and is non-refundable. The landlord may state that the fee is for the privilege of being allowed to keep the animal, and it usually does not cover any damage that the pet causes.

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2. Pet Deposit

A pet deposit is similar to a security deposit, which is usually an amount of money that you pay the landlord for them to hold until you move out, which is generally $200 to $600, like the pet fee. The landlord will use this money to fix any damage that the pet causes and return any remaining funds when you leave.

3. Pet Rent

Unlike the first two options, pet rent is ongoing and tenants must pay it monthly. Fortunately, the fee is much lower, usually $10–$100, though it might fluctuate depending on the kind of animal. This option is popular in large apartment buildings with pet-friendly areas that require frequent maintenance.

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divider-multiprintWhen Are Pet Charges Not Legal?

  • A pet fee is not legal in California because non-refundable fees are part of the security deposit.
  • If a landlord charges a security deposit and a pet deposit and a tenant destroys the property but the pet doesn’t cause any damage, the landlord cannot dip into the pet deposit. The landlord also cannot dip into the security deposit if pet damages exceed the pet deposit.
  • Adding a pet fee might put the total above the legal maximum if the property is subject to rent control.

Will I Have to Pay Fees If I Have a Service Animal?

No. According to the Fair Housing Act service and support animals are exempt from all fees and restrictions. To get this exemption, you will need to have your doctor or therapist communicate or write a letter explaining that your pet is assisting you.

girl hugging her pyschiatric service dog
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Can I Negotiate the Fees?

Of course! You are free to attempt to negotiate lower fees at any time before you sign the agreement. In some cases, you might be able to get the landlord to lower or even waive the fee for especially small or well-behaved animals.

What If My Pet Is Small, Like a Fish or Hamster?

Many landlords will not charge a fee for small animals like hamsters, gerbils, or fish, but it’s best to let them know about any pets that you have or are considering acquiring before moving in. Fish tanks hold large amounts of water, and mice and rats can escape, so it’s a good idea to let the landlord decide if the animal might cause damage and warrant a charge.

small hamster on the floor
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What If I Sneak in the Pet?

While sneaking the pet into your home can help you avoid initial fees, doing so leaves you open to getting caught later, which can damage your reputation and even get you evicted. It’s important to remember that any future landlords will likely want references before allowing you to move in.

Can My Landlord Revoke Permission?

If your dog bites someone or becomes a nuisance by continuously barking, defecating in the yard, or breaking other rules, your landlord can force the pet out.

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Landlords can indeed charge extra to tenants who own pets. They might ask for a one-time fee to grant the privilege or act as a deposit to pay for possible damages that the pet might cause. They might also increase your monthly rent by $10–$100. You will need to ask yourself if the fees are worth it and consider your options before signing any agreements or leases. If you live in California or a rent-controlled area, check with the local laws to ensure that a pet fee is legal.

Featured Image Credit: Kristi Blokhin, Shutterstock

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