Why Do Landlords Charge for Pets?
Security deposits are meant to protect landlords from unpaid tenant charges, such as nonpayment of rent and physical damage to the property. These deposits still belong to the tenant until the lease is terminated, and landlords must keep them in a separate escrow account according to the law in their state. Once the lease is terminated, landlords may then apply the security deposit toward charges due from—but not paid by—the tenant.
One area that represents a high risk of loss to landlords is damage to the property caused by pets. Where permitted by law, landlords often charge “pet rent,” pet deposits, or pet fees. Pet deposits are usually refundable, just like security deposits. Pet rent and pet fees are not refundable. If the landlord charges a pet fee in regular monthly payments, that’s called pet rent.
Tenants who find a “pet-friendly” place to rent may be surprised to find that they must also pay more for that pet—so why do landlords charge more for pets? In short, these pet deposits, pet fees, or pet rents protect landlords from damage to their property. Cleaning or replacing carpets that smell of pet urine or feces or repairing molding and fixtures with chew marks, scratches, and gouges can cost a lot of money. Landlords who do allow pets will clearly spell out the rules and responsibilities for pet owners—to supervise their pets, clean up after them, and control noise. The lease will also specify what happens in the event the pet owner doesn’t comply. The landlord might also set weight limits or exclude certain types of exotic pets or dangerous dog breeds.
Pet damage is a very common occurrence with rental homes. A pet is capable of costing several thousand dollars’ worth of damage to flooring. This is why many landlords charge a monthly “pet rent” in addition to a “pet deposit” or “pet fee.”
As a side note, charging any additional amount as a deposit or fee for a service animal or emotional support animal is a violation of fair housing laws. Service animals are animals with special training in assisting a person with a disability. Emotional support Animals might be any type of common household pet specifically prescribed by the tenant’s caregiver as being necessary for the tenant’s emotional well-being.
Is It Worth It for Landlords to Accept Pets?
Since more than 50% of tenants have a pet, landlords have had to find a way to budget and pay for the damage pets often cause. For a landlord to refuse to rent to any tenant with a pet is to significantly reduce their pool of available renters for their rental home. Experienced rental property management companies in Atlanta, Georgia—such as Excalibur Homes—can help landlords determine whether accepting a pet is a good option for their specific rental property and circumstances.