Renters who have pets are often met with restrictions and challenges, especially when they’re looking for a pet-friendly rental apartment. Although landlords are increasingly understanding that pets are part of our families, they still need reassurance that their properties won’t be damaged by our furry friends.
As a result, there are some fees that renters are required to pay—like a pet deposit or pet rent—to cover the cost of potential repairs. These fees will come into play after you’ve found the right apartment and are ready to sign the lease, so it’s important that you understand the difference between the main types of pet-related fees.
Moreover, because pet-related requirements differ from state to state and even landlord to landlord, make sure to research your state’s legislation concerning pet fees. Additionally, ask for transparency regarding pet costs before you sign a lease for an apartment.
Notably, assistance animals—such as those used for emotional or physical support—are the exception to the rule; you should not pay any additional fees for these types of animals, and they are not subject to breed or weight restrictions of any kind per the Fair Housing Act. As for the other pets, here’s what you should know:
Pet Deposit vs. Pet Fees
When you’re discussing signing the lease for your new place, the landlord will explain how much the security deposit will be. A pet deposit is similar to a security deposit in that it is a refundable, one-time, upfront payment. However, the pet deposit only covers damages made by the pet; if your landlord doesn’t mention a pet deposit, ask whether the security deposit covers any damages from pets.
Conversely, a pet fee is non-refundable. This is like an admission for your pet; you pay it once and then your pet is allowed in the apartment. If your landlord charges a pet fee, find out exactly what the fee covers and whether you should expect any additional charges in the event of damage.
This type of fee is an additional charge, which is usually in the range of $50 to $100 per month. Furthermore, this fee may vary depending on the type, number, and breed of the pet. Usually—but not always—landlords who opt for this recurring fee will not charge extra and will cover potential damages through your security deposit. However, if the legislation in the state allows it, landlords might add other fees. Before you move in, be sure to ask about any other fees and get the final agreement in writing to avoid any misunderstandings.
Although renter’s insurance is crucial for many renters, not all plans cover pets and damages made to the apartment. As such, you might want to consider getting pet insurance, which will cover most vet bills and costs for the pet’s health; some even cover damages to the apartment, although you may need to look for a specific plan for this option.
These are the main costs that you’ll encounter when you’re renting with pets, but some buildings actually offer pet-oriented amenities, such as on-site dog washer stations or even pet sitters. Consequently, you may end up saving money on some services if you choose to rent in a building with pet perks like these. If you have a variety of rental options to choose from, consider these aspects, as well, and balance out the costs to see which facility offers the best bang for your buck.
Apart from the financial aspect, it’s also important to discuss any restrictions that a property might have. Be knowledgeable about what you can and cannot do, as well as which pets are allowed. Transparency is key in these discussions, and as the demand for pet-friendly apartments rises, property managers and landlords adapt in order to make the entire process easier on everyone. With proper research and the right mindset, you shouldn’t have any issues when renting with pets.