Pet owners

Pros and cons of charging pet rent

    If you're a property manager who’s dealt with pet owners before, then you know how pet-friendly properties have a reputation for being expensive to manage. 

    But what if you could charge your renters an extra pet rent in exchange for allowing them to have their furry friend living with them? Pet rent is becoming increasingly popular as landlords and property managers look for ways to offset the surprisingly low costs of accommodating pets on their properties.

    However, pet rent might not be the right choice for all properties — and it comes with a drawback you need to consider before implementing such a practice.

    In this article, we'll discuss the pros and cons of charging pet rent, tips for implementing a policy that works best for everyone involved, alternatives to traditional pet rent, and more.

    What is pet rent?  

    Pet rent is a fee charged to renters who have pets in their rental units. It’s an additional cost on top of the regular rent, and it can be used to cover any pet-related expenses incurred by the landlord.

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    For example, you can save all the income you generate from pet rent to cover the cost of cleanup when a pet-owning renter moves out, or you can count pet rent as part of your recurring monthly income.

    Pet deposit, pet fees, and pet rent — what’s the difference? 

    Pet deposits, pet fees, and pet rent are three different types of charges that landlords can use to cover potential damage caused by a renter’s pet. 

    Knowing the difference between these charges is important for both property managers and renters alike. For property managers, it helps to make the right decision on which fee to charge. And for renters, it helps to understand the agreements on their lease.

    A pet deposit is a security deposit that’s specific to pet damage. It’s a refundable deposit that covers any damage or cleaning costs incurred due to the renter’s pets.

    The amount of the deposit varies from state to state but typically ranges from $200-$500 per pet. 

    This type of charge should be clearly outlined in your lease agreement, so there are no surprises down the line. You should specify what you consider to be damage so that you can make a fair decision about the deposit when the renter moves out.

    Pet fees are one-time, non-refundable fees used to cover potential damage a renter’s pet can cause during their rental period. Examples of damage can include scratched floors or stained carpets.

    But unlike a pet deposit, you don’t have to refund a pet fee, even if the pet causes no damage. That’s why it’s important to specify the details of the fee in a lease agreement. Otherwise, renters may believe they’re entitled to a refund after their lease expires. 

    Finally, pet rent is a monthly recurring charge to renters. 

    This fee helps offset some of the costs associated with pet damage. But it can also provide extra income for landlords who may have previously been reluctant about allowing pets into their rental properties due to liability concerns. 

    All three of these fees serve to protect landlords from potential damage caused by pets. But pet rent is the only recurring fee. And the pet deposit is the only fee that you must refund to renters when pets have caused no damage. 

    What do most landlords charge for pets?

    Pet rent is at the discretion of the property manager or landlord. So it’s up to you how much you want to charge your pet-owning renters.

    Of course, it’s important to charge a fair amount so that you don’t push renters away from your property. 

    The amount of this fee can vary widely depending on the landlord's policies and location, but landlords generally charge around $25-$50 per month per pet.

    Look up your local state laws to find out if there’s a maximum you’re allowed to charge. Make sure to abide by your local laws at all times.

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    For refundable deposits, landlords will typically charge between $200 and $500. Make sure to keep deposits safe so that you’re able to refund them when there’s no damage.

    Pros and cons of charging pet rent

    Wondering whether pet rent is the right solution for your property? Surprisingly, it’s mostly pros for renters and property owners alike while only having one real con.

    Pro: provides an additional source of income 

    Property management can be difficult, especially when you’re saddled with high-interest rates. 

    Pet rent can be a great additional source of revenue for property owners. Of course, this rent serves a partial purpose to offset some of the costs associated with running pet-passionate rental properties, but pet damage averages are surprisingly low, with only 9% of pets causing any damage and the average cost only being $1911.

    You can even calculate your potential revenue with Petscreening’s Revenue Fetcher calculator!

    With this additional revenue, you can:

    • Make improvements to your property to raise the value of your rental units
    • Invest in pet amenities to attract more pet-owning renters
    • Start saving for repairs 

    Overall, this added income removes some of the risks landlords take when they allow pets in their units.

    Pro: renters are more likely to care for their units 

    If renters get charged pet rent, they may be more likely to take better care of their rental units and keep them clean and free from any damage caused by their pets. However, that can depend on your policies.

    If you have a policy in your lease agreement that says you can adjust the pet rent depending on the amount of damage caused each year, renters may try to mitigate the damage to keep their pet rent lower. 

    Pro: become a pet-friendly property

    Demand for pet-friendly properties has increased by 50%. And when you don’t accept pets into your unit, you’re leaving an entire portion of potential renters out of the game. 

    But not all property owners want to take the risk of having their units damaged because of pets. Some can’t afford the risk at all.

    If you can’t currently afford to accept pets, a pet rent can allow you to attract renters with pets while mitigating the risk. You can become a pet-friendly property while saving money to pay for some of the damage you can incur due to pets. 

    Con: renters will expect more amenities for their pet rent

    Pet rent’s benefits are pretty obvious, but it does come with one potential negative: your renters are going to want to see something come from their pet rent. Luckily, this one is sort of a sneaky pro.

    The idea of needing to invest more into pet-friendly amenities sounds like a big financial drain that counters the benefits of charging pet rent, but it’s actually an investment into your properties and the families that live in them. Gaining a reputation for being a pet-passionate property leads to benefits for you and your renters.

    There is a seven-out-of-ten correlation between rental properties with pet amenities and property managers seeing more rentals and renewals2

    Pet owners actively seek out properties that offer something for their pets. They’re more likely to renew their leases if they’re living somewhere that provides value to them.

    Pets decrease loneliness in their owners and help them socialize better with other humans3 - your amenities can turn into community hubs for your renters as they mingle with other pet people. This sense of belonging further increases their likelihood of staying around long-term.

    In terms of finances, all of this allows you to save money on your marketing budget when you have fewer vacancies thanks to renewals. So, while you may have to spend some of that pet rent on these amenities, they’ll pay you back and increase your bottom line.

    Three tips for implementing a pet rent

    Have you decided pet rent is the best solution for your property? If you want to charge pet rent, here are some tips to go about it in an effective and fair way. 

    1. Implement an effective pet policy before charging rent

    Before you start charging pet rent to your pet-owning renters, you’ll have to set up a few things first. For example, you should have a pet policy in place.

    A pet policy will make sure there’s no free-for-all when it comes to pets. Without a pet policy, renters could bring in several pets and start upsetting other renters!

    Make the pet policy clear and specific. Leave no room for interpretation. For example, you can specify whether you allow all pets or only specific ones. 

    Are exotic pets allowed? How many pets should be allowed per unit? How do pet owners have to behave when navigating common areas with their pets? 

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    You’ll also have to consider whether you want to allow all dog breeds. Our suggestion is to allow all dog breeds and keep your policy simple.

    Why? Many landlords limit some breeds due to stereotypes and false beliefs about these breeds. But studies show that a dog’s behavior isn’t predicted by breed

    Instead, if you want to screen pets, consider evaluating them on a case-by-case basis. A dog’s owners, and its individual nature, have a much higher impact on a dog’s behavior than the breed.

    2. Implement pet amenities 

    According to a report completed by PetScreening and J Turner Research, pet amenities significantly impact how pet owners choose their place of living. 

    For example, people who owned pets or intended to adopt one within the next year rated the importance of pet-related amenities an average of 7.11 out of 10 when considering whether to renew a lease or move into a new community.

    So if you want to implement pet rent in your policies, you should strongly consider building pet amenities to go along with it, keeping in mind the benefits that come with them that were mentioned earlier.

    But what type of pet amenities do pet owners want? Turns out, you don’t have to spend too much to attract pet owners. The top amenities people look for include:

    Pet-waste stations: 65% of respondents claimed pet waste stations were the highest priority pet amenity. But pet-waste stations will also keep your property clean, which will help all renters remain happy.

    • Onsite pet parks: 64% of respondents said onsite pet parks are among their top priorities when looking for a pet-friendly rental. It allows them to play with their pets without causing as much damage to their rental unit. 
    • Onsite dog run: 45% of respondents said they’d enjoy an onsite dog run. Like pet parks, dog runs are crucial to help dogs expend some energy, which can mitigate the damage caused to rental units. 
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    As you can see, pet owners don’t expect expensive pet amenities such as pet grooming spas or doggy daycare. Keeping it simple can be enough to attract more pet owners as renters. 

    3. Appease anti-pet residents 

    Some of your residents may be anti-pet. If you implement a pet rent to attract more pet owners, there’s a risk of upsetting these anti-pet renters. 

    You need to strike a balance between pet inclusivity and making pet-free renters comfortable. Both of them have a right to live comfortably in their homes.

    For example, excessive barking or other pet noises can disrupt residents who want to sleep or simply relax. This is especially true for renters who work night shifts — or when pets in your property cause noise during the night. 

    In addition to pet rent, make sure to document excessive barking and pet noise. You can implement a policy to charge additional fines when residents file complaints against other renters because of disruptive noises.

    When you have a fining policy, pet owners may be more likely to take precautions to prevent barking and other pet noises. For instance, they can train their pets more adequately and ensure they get the proper exercise they need.

    Another common issue that’ll annoy pet-free residents is unattended pet waste or the scent of pet urine coming from pet rentals. Consider charging fines for owners who don’t pick up their waste, especially when you’ve already done the work of adding pet waste amenities.

    You can install cameras to catch offending pet owners who fail to pick up pet waste. Alternatively, you can use a service such as PooPrints to test the DNA of waste samples and find out who’s at fault.

    Finally, consider renters who either:

    • Dislike pets
    • Have allergies
    • Are scared of certain pets or species

    These renters may fear pets running loose in the common spaces when you start charging pet rent and accepting more pet owners into the property.

    You can start to enforce a leash-at-all-times policy to make sure dogs and other roaming pets stay close to their owners whenever they leave their units. As with the other policies, make sure to specify the consequences of not using a leash (like a fine). 

    How to calculate pet rent

    How much should you charge your pet-owning renters once you decide to charge pet rent?

    First, decide if you’ll restrict breeds. We’ve already discussed the benefits of eliminating breed restrictions, which is why you should instead adapt your pet rent based on physical attributes, such as size. You may decide to charge a higher pet rent for breeds that shed more fur, for example.

    Your pet rent should also vary depending on whether your rentals include furniture. If you don’t include furniture, you won’t need to consider the costs of repairing any furniture. 

    The types of flooring will also change the risks involved. For example, the wear-and-tear on carpets will be different from the wear-and-tear on a hardwood floor. 

    Finally, factor in any extra services you offer specifically for renters with pets — for example, doggy daycare or pet grooming stations.

    You can calculate the appropriate pet rent simply with Petscreening’s new FIDO score pricing tool.

    Alternatives to charging pet rent

    If you’ve decided pet rent isn’t the best solution for your property, you have other options to mitigate the risk of pet damage.

    The first option is to modify rent across all your rentals to account for the risk of pets. As such, you can “bake-in” a pet rent regardless of pet ownership. However, this may cause your prices to be less competitive, especially for lower-income renters.

    You can also charge a refundable pet deposit. This will allow you to cover pet-related expenses only when pets cause damage. But pet owners will be happy to receive their deposit back if they keep their rental unit safe and clean.

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    Finally, you can charge a one-time pet fee. While a non-refundable pet fee may push some applicants away, you won’t have to worry about assessing damage and handling refunds when renters leave. 

    Reclaim potential pet revenue with pet rent 

    Charging pet rent can be a great way to generate additional revenue for property managers and landlords. However, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of implementing such a policy before making any decisions. 

    Property managers should also take into account their local laws and regulations when deciding whether or not to charge pet rent. Ultimately, if done correctly, charging pet rent can be beneficial for both renters and property owners alike. It can lead to improved amenities and reduces risk.

    Whether you want to start charging pet rent and fees or simply want to become a more pet-inclusive property, PetScreening can help. Schedule a demo with a Pack Member to see how PetScreening can help you streamline your pet management process!

    Additional Sources:

    1 Michelson Found Animals. Tackliing misconceptions about pets in rental housing.

    2,3 Cowart, V. Becoming pet passionate.