Can Landlords Charge Non-Refundable Pet Deposits?

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For the pet lovers like myself, let me ask you this: would you agree with me when I say that it is becoming very difficult to actually care for pets without getting punished by all those fees?  The apartment I’m renting has agreeable terms when it comes to pet deposits.  But because of work, I have to move to another state and thus, I am looking for an apartment to rent.  Of course, I will be bringing my pets with me. I have a dog and two cats.  The problem is, in landlord is asking for $250 pet deposit, $300 Non-Refundable pet fees and a $25 pet rent per month.  I didn’t think this was fair or even legal.



To cut the long story short, I filed a complaint against that apartment even if I did not really continue renting there.  The complaint was mainly to warn other pet lovers like myself about that apartment complex.

For your guidance, I thought of sharing the following facts about pet deposits.

  • Is pet rent legal?

In all states, pet rent is legal as long as there are no discriminatory reasons why you are being charged this additional rent.  Example of a discriminatory reason is that you are being charged pet fees because of your race, color, age, and sex and so on.

  • Is it legal to charge pet rent and pet deposit?

A pet deposit pertains to the money that you pay up front to ensure your landlord that there is coverage in case your pet damages the property.  So just like your security deposit, the pet deposit is a one-time fee.

On the other hand, the pet rent is paid on a monthly basis and it covers the mere presence of your pet in the apartment complex.  In some states, that rent is required because by law, pets are not allowed in an apartment complex.  The only exception to this is if the pet is necessary for your functioning or if they are service pets.  In some areas, pets are even considered as privileges.

  • Are non-refundable pet fees legal?

The answer would depend on your state.  So you’d have to check your local tenant laws.  Do not just believe everything on the lease because sometimes landlords would have their attorneys draft the lease to their advantage, with or without consideration of the existing tenant laws in your state.

However, know that in Massachusetts that fees are illegal.

If you don’t want the many pet fees and still keep your pet, then that is also possible.  This is because there are apartment complexes that are built to be pet-friendly. In these apartments, there is a wide lawn for pets as well as a pet playground.  The only catch is that these places are usually more expensive than the regular apartments.

Another option would be to rent a home or a private townhouse.  These places are usually more agreeable when it comes to pet fees.

Of course, it may take some time before you would find that perfect place for you and your pet.  Again, if you feel discriminated when looking for an apartment or if there is something in the lease that is contradicting your state and local laws, feel free to file a complaint and let others know about it. Here is the link that I used when I did that: http://www.rentalprotectionagency.com/complaint_center.php.

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Edited on: Friday, April 24th, 2015 7:18 pm
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