It’s standard practice when renting or leasing a home or apartment to pay first, last, and a damage deposit – and for pet owners, an additional deposit for their pets, as well. But now, more and more landlords are also charging a “fido fee” for pets – “pet rent” in addition to the standard rental rates. But is it fair for landlords to charge extra rent for pets?
The Seattle Times reported on Sunday that security deposits for pets are currently in the hundreds of dollars – for each pet – and they’re on the rise. But some apartment managers are also adding additional monthly rent for pets, ranging from $10 to $50. Over the course of one year, this can add up to $600 additional rent for an apartment or house – and in an economy that’s still recovering, many who share their lives with animals question the affordability of pet rent.
Why the extra fees? Landlords and apartment managers are safeguarding against potential damage that the pets may cause. But is it fair to make a renter pay up front for damage that might never occur?
While the extra charges often cover cleaning services and people who scoop dog poop (while some would argue that this is the responsibility of the pet owner), some landlords simply charge more because the demand for good housing is high – and the supply is low. And some apartment managers and landlords decline applicants with animals outright, rather than worrying about the potential damage the animals might cause.
According to Stacy Leighty, who manages more than 400 properties in Salem, Oregon, the added fee was recommended by her financial advisor. She stated: “One out of 50 people will say, ‘I can’t believe you charge pet rent,’ but most accept it.”
Los Angeles resident Fred Lopez recently moved from a home where he was being charged $50 per month in pet rent.
“They are exploiting the fact that more and more people have pets,” he said. “First they ask for a deposit, then rent. How much more are they going to try and squeeze out of us?”
In a recent survey for Apartments.com, 78% of renters who filled out the questionnaire said that they paid a pet deposit – and 29% of those respondent also paid pet rent each month.
According to Apartments.com, this is an increase of 63% for pet deposits and 20% for pet rent. But is this a fair practice – or is it just helping the landlords’ bottom line?
Leighty’s 400 properties in Salem, Oregon charge $20 per month for dogs and $10 a month for cats – in addition to the standard rental payment. Additional deposits for pets cost $500 for dogs and $400 for cats.
According to Realtor.com, pet rent looks like a growing – and unavoidable – trend for renters. Their website stated:
Pet rent, which is becoming increasingly more common, especially in corporate-owned apartment complexes, works differently [than pet deposits]. With pet rent you’ll pay a monthly fee as long as you and your pet live in the rental. The fee is relatively small – usually $35 or less – and is considered a discretionary charge, meaning the landlord can legally include this extra charge in your lease in most cases.
So while pet rent may be legal, is it fair to renters, or does it unreasonably burden them with additional expenses? What do you think?
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