Charging a Pet Deposit in Rental Agreement
Landlords have the legal rights to either allow or prohibit pets within their premises. However, Federal laws i.e. Fair Housing Amendment Act provides an exception. Landlords should not refuse to rent an individual with an animal or pet that serves as a companion animal or service animals such as a trained dog for disabled individual or other animals which are used by an individual with physical or mental disability.
With that said, here are some of the terms that every landlord should be familiar when it comes to charging a pet deposit in rental agreement;
· Pet Rent-Is any additional amount of rent that is charged in addition to the pet deposit or pet fees. In some states or countries, excessive pet rent is illegal thus it is very necessary for one to do some research on state laws.
· A pet deposit-Refers to any amount which is charged to tenant who poses a pet. The pet deposit should be refundable. Non-refundable pet deposits do not exist. A deposit is a type of contract where an item of value is held by the landlord to be returned after the performance of a deed.
The extra rental prices and fees are mostly charged because the landlord fears that the amount of damage that the pet may cause may be more than the amount of normal deposit. Landlords can allow their tenants to pay a separate deposit which can be used to cover any kind of damages that may be caused by the pet. In some states or countries, this is legal but in others it is not. When planning to lease an apartment with are either one or more pets, it is very imperative to ensure that a part of your lease agreement is a pet appendum or pet agreement. The pet appendum should specify what the rules and regulations are regarding the type of breed, pet size, what the agreement covers, the amount of pet deposit to be paid and whether the pet deposit is refundable or not.
Additionally, Landlords must create fair rules for tenants who own animals. If the pets are allowed within the premises, then the landlord should list what the expectations are for both pet and tenant behavior. The landlord must also take time and go over each of the regulations before the tenant signs the contract. Furthermore, the landlord should also take time and explain to the tenant why the rules and regulations are in place. A majority of the experienced property managers are in agreement that basing a fee or deposit on the pet’s size does not necessarily make a difference on the amount of damage which can be done to the property.
The evaluation conducted by a potential landlord should be executed on a case by case basis. The Landlord should request to meet the pet prior to the signing of the contract. In case the Insurance rate is higher due to the fact that the tenant owns a pet, you may choose to pass the higher premium rates to the tenant by adding the premium into the pet rent that you will charge. Most tenants understand this fact and are always willing to pay the extra charges.
It is highly recommended for tenants to make great pet ownership easy for the tenant. The property manager may show areas within the property that the tenant may use for dog walks. Furthermore, a supply of baggies may be placed outdoors. The tenant may be given the number for a steam floor cleaning company. Eventually, offering and pointing out solutions may assist the tenant and landlord alike. An alternative to the pet fees and pet rent is pet fines. A landlord may only charge a fine incase a pet or a tenant fails to execute the provisions stipulated on the lease.
A landlord should also be familiar with the state laws relating to pet fines. A landlord can only charge a pet fine in case a pet or tenant fails to execute the provisions within the lease. Some states prohibit pet fines over an amount that is established by the state. Some of the large property companies charge a monthly rent fee, a non-refundable pet fee and an extra pet deposit. A majority of the independent property managers disagree with the above listed methods because they tend to discourage good tenant behavior.
Due to the fact that many people own pets, the number of prospective tenants is much larger if property managers are going to allow pets. Rentals that are pet friendly tend to attract a high number of prospective clients. Additionally, it also presents the landlords to find better quality tenants. According to research, tenants who lived in pet friendly rentals stayed within the premises an average of 46 months when compared to the 18 months for individuals who stayed in the rentals which prohibited pets. With a well written lease agreement which clearly sets the expectations, reasonable pet deposits and pet rent can be charged.