Approximately 68% of U.S. households (85 million) own a pet, according to the 2017-18 National Pet Owners survey. This percentage also applies to military member families, if not higher. As a landlord/property manager, your pet policy is a topic you deal with on a regular basis. Your pet policy can have a significant impact on your property, ranging from the available pool of prospective tenants to pet related maintenance costs. If your policy is to allow pets, you want to make sure that your rental agreement covers potential maintenance costs due to pet-related damages.
The first step to protecting your property from pet-related damage is to decide what types of pets you will allow. Drafting a clear and concise pet policy eliminates any confusion or misinterpretation regarding the number and/or types of pets allowed. Present this policy to prospective tenants upfront and incorporate this into your rental contract. Upfront screening of prospective tenant’s pets is another, flexible option for determining which pets you decide to allow.
A pet deposit is typically a one-time upfront fee paid with the security deposit. Typical pet deposits are 1 to 2 month’s rent and by definition is considered a refundable deposit. If there are no pet specific damages upon move-out, the deposit must be returned to the tenant. A pet deposit can only be used to cover pet-related damages and not tenant related damages. Also, it is illegal to charge a pet deposit for service animals. The risk of damage from service animals is low due to their extensive training.
Since laws around pet deposits vary substantially, be sure to check your local laws for the use of pet deposits.
Pet rent is added to the monthly rent. The philosophy behind pet rent is that the longer the pet resides in your property, the greater probability of pet-related clean-up costs upon move out. The counter to this philosophy is that pets can cause considerable damage in a brief period and you may not receive enough pet rent to cover the damages. Unlike a pet deposit, because pet rent is paid monthly and is not intended to be refunded upon move-out. Again, be sure to check your local laws governing pet rents in your area.