Should the security deposit cover pet deposit?

9 Replies

I am trying to understand why we need to collect pet deposit. If the pet made any damage, we can deduct it from security deposit, right? It makes more sense to me to collect non refundable pet fee or pet rent, but I am new, so I would like to hear what I missed from the experts here. I am particularly interested to hear from the experts in SC, how do you charge for pet and how much for each pet?

Thank you

No, a pet deposit is for the damage that can potentially be caused by the pet. I'd definitely collect a seperate deposit.

You can collect a separate pet deposit, but that is for damage caused by the pet. What if the pet caused $300 in damage and you collected a $200 pet deposit?

If the normal deposit is $1000 and the pet deposit would be $200 why not just charge a $1200 "security deposit" which can be used toward ANY damage, pet or not pet?

There really is no right or wrong way to do this, either with a pet fee or pet rent.  Our company charges a $250 pet fee for a year.  We then charge that each year.  It is what they pay for the luxury of having a pet in the home.  

Then depending on the size of the pet and how many they have, we may or may not have  a pet deposit.  Just know that in most states you can only use the pet deposit for damages if in fact they are caused by a pet.  Now in my experience it is normally very easy to tell if there is damage caused by a pet (ie.  scratches on the door and door frame, pet hair all over the baseboards, dog smell in the home).

In renting, the biggest thing is to do a thourogh back ground check on the possible tenants.  If you have to go with a questionable tenant, we charge a double deposit.  That is the most though that is allowed by Missouri law.  I always recommend reading your states landlord/tenant laws.

Good luck.

Originally posted by @Ping W. :

I am trying to understand why we need to collect pet deposit. If the pet made any damage, we can deduct it from security deposit, right? It makes more sense to me to collect non refundable pet fee or pet rent, 

We charge a NON refundable pet fee of $100 per pet, but we do not allow pets in all our houses.  DO NOT allow pets if you have nice hardwood floors throughout that you want to keep nice. 

We also charge the maximum allowable refundable security deposit.    

I don't charge pet rent or pet deposits.  Not really a customary thing in my market.  I do charge first, last and security deposit which amounts to 3 months worth of rent to move in, so I don't pile on additional $50s and $100s over that.  I either allow or disallow pets, and if there are damages it's covered by the SD.  I don't want to bother to have to figure out if a kitchen toe kick was broken by someone kicking it in or a dog pulling it out, damage is damage.

Find out what is customary in your market. I would love to get first, last, and security... but tough to do in my market. A security deposit up to two month's rent is also tough to get here, but easier to obtain if the tenant has a pet. Scour the advertising of comparable rentals in your area to get a good idea of what the market will bear. Then get the highest security deposit you can. For the reason's mentioned by others, make it a larger security deposit instead of a pet deposit, as it will serve you better.  Also, I like the idea of extra rent for each pet or a flat pet privilege fee.

I've been charging an extra pet deposit, which is refundable. Refundable gives the tenant the incentive to keep the place clean and be responsible for the pet's behavior/damage.

But yesterday, someone on BP (I apologize for forgetting his name right now), suggested a flat increase in the monthly rent, plus the usual security deposit. The extra rent is for the privilege of having the pet, and the regular security deposit covers *all* damage. He says he gets $100 more per month for a dog. I can't imagine getting that much more for a pet, but $30 seems reasonable in my area of Ft. Lauderdale. I've had potential tenants offer more rent to have a pet they're not permitted to have, so I know it would be easy enough to get $30 a month.

As @Sam Leon mentioned, does it really matter who or what caused damage to the baseboards or toe kick?

Usually anything called a deposit falls into the category of a Security Deposit.  In Michigan we can charge one and  a half months rent as a Security Deposit.  Therefore if my rent was $600 a month I could charge $900 Security Deposit and first months rent.  

Let's say I wanted to charge a $250 Pet DEPOSIT.  That $250 would have to be part of the Security Deposit, worded the way it is.  Pet DEPOSIT.  So I would be out $250 if the pet did some damages.  Whereas, a normal tenant giving me the same deposit of $900, the full amount would go toward damages and money owed by the tenant.  

In Michigan, you can charge a Security Deposit  of $600 and a Pet FEE of $250 that will not be part of the Security Deposit because it's called a FEE and not a Deposit.  

You can have your contract say, a non-refundable Pet Fee, or a refundable Pet Fee providing there are no damages by the pet.  (Make sure it is in your lease agreement contract)

The same thing for  carpet cleaning fees.  We charged a non-refundable carpet cleaning fee of $150.  (To cover cleaning the carpets, the appliances, etc, after a tenant moved.)  

Generally when Landlords collect a Security Deposit, it is never enough money to cover the expenses that we face, after a tenant leaves, because the courts deem a lot of it as normal wear and tear.   (It depends on the Judge you have).  

So in Michigan you can charge $900 Security Deposit + $600 first months rent, + $150.00 Pet fee + $150 non-refundable carpet cleaning fee. 

If my tenants left my places squeaky clean, I returned it to them, even though it may say non-refundable.  But, sigh, that didn't happen very often.  

Nancy Neville


In my market, most people couldn't afford to move in paying security deposit, first month's rent, and then a pet deposit. So I just have a monthly pet fee as "additional rent".

Join the Largest Real Estate Investing Community

Basic membership is free, forever.

By signing up, you indicate that you agree to the BiggerPockets Terms & Conditions.