Hi BP, we charge a $50 non-refundable pet deposit and a $25/mo fee per pet. In my mind, this is a nominal amount to help in the event that we have to cover extensive damage that the normal deposit would not cover.
I just had a tenant move out and found the place has fleas and some other minor damages. I realize I should probably apply the initial $50 deposit by nature of it being a "pet deposit", but would you deduct the rest of the extermination fee from the normal security deposit or count the $25/mo funds toward this and give them a full security deposit refund? I think of the $25 as an "option" fee to allow the pet to live there, much like someone would charge to add an extra appliance, etc. and not necessarily to cover damages. What do you think?
Your monthly charge for the pet isn't to cover damages! you should certainly add the extermination fee to the bill along with your person charge in order to remedy the issue. I know we charge $40/hour if we have to go in and do things to repair the property. So what was your drive time + time spend get the exterminator there? do you charge by the hour only or do you charge in 15min slots? just what ever you decide make it consistent so you can't get sued for discrimination.
I'd definitely take it out of their security deposit.
The monthly pet fee is for allowing the tenant to have the pet there and to cover the extra work you do in qualifying the tenant's pet and for the overall extra wear-and-tear a pet is likely to cause.
The pet deposit and security deposit is to cover damages and costs beyond wear-and-tear. Exterminating for fleas falls into this category.
Also, in some states, such as Washington State, there is no such thing as a "non-refundable deposit". By our state definition, deposits must be refundable if certain terms for their return are met. Fees however are charges that are non-refundable. Fees can be applied for specific lease violations or for specific privileges. Some examples for use of fees include: late fee, service fee or posting fee (for serving legal notices), unauthorized pet fee, unauthorized occupant fee, etc.
For the privilege of keeping a pet, I would charge additional rent for each pet, instead of a fee. Also, I would also charge additional security deposit instead of establishing a separate pet deposit. That way I would not need to show the correlation between the pet and the use of the pet deposit, I could just apply it to the damages.
Also, I would charge for damages as they occur or upon discovery of the damage. This is why periodic property inspections are important. That way I keep the security deposit intact and available for me to use after the tenant has moved out to cover damages and other things I discover at that time. Because they are not tied to a specific purpose, security deposits can be used not only for damages, but for extra cleaning, missing items, unpaid utilities, unpaid rent, and unpaid fees. Not so if you label a deposit as a cleaning deposit, damage deposit or pet deposit.
In my area a $250-$350 non refundable fee per pet + monthly pet fee per animal is the norm. I usually charge the non refundable fee, but not the monthly fee to stay competitive. But, I will inspect at random times like Marcia Maynard and if pets cause damage then I repair and assess a fee to the tenants to make the repairs at that time.
I charge a flat fee of $200-$300 for a pet. I am careful NOT to call it a deposit because that could open the door for demand for refund. I specifically call it an additional fee for the pet. This does not remove the liability of the tenant to surrender the property in proper condition. I have not heard of an additional monthly fee for pets in SW Florida. If you can get it...great!
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