Landlord withheld $500 "pet fee" from my security deposit!!

8 Replies

I live in Nashville, Tennessee. 

I moved out of my rental house in September and just received a letter from my landlord that outlines the charges withheld from my $800 security deposit. I only received $250, with the main portion being taken from an arbitrary pet fee that I never agreed to!  

There was a line in the Lease about "no pets", but I didn't sign anything that agreed to paying a pet fee. 

Upon moving out I spent a considerable amount of time cleaning the house and making sure it was in excellent condition (The landlord is a persnickety old woman who is VERY particular so I was trying to mitigate any losses in advance). 

Do I have any leverage in getting my $500 back or am I just out of luck? 

The letter states the following:

  • You did not change the central HVAC filter for 2 years that you rented my property. This unit was brand new when you moved in and I am concerned about the long-term damage. 
  • Bath Room - removal of curtain and shower rod when you moved $50  
  • Although the property was no pets, you allowed your friend to bring her two dogs when she stayed with you on the weekends.  After I sent you a letter on the issue, you continued to allow the dogs but tried to hide them from me.  For this reason, I am charging you a $250 pet fee for each of the dogs. $500
  • Total $550.00

Enclosed you will find the remainder of your security deposit in the amount of $250.00     

Any guidance would be greatly appreciated. 



personally I would fight this. 

Did you allow 2 dogs in the house in a no-pet property and try to hide them from the landlord?

They did visit on occasion, but never did any damage to the property.  Also didn't try to "hide" them.  

A pet fee would only exist if pets were actually allowed.  Since they weren't allowed, you would not need to have agreed to paying one.  If she busted you more than once with dogs in the house, I don't really blame her for charging you.  If she caught you once or twice, how often was it happening that she didn't catch you?  

Be happy she didn’t evict you for violating the lease. An eviction would be worse than a $500 loss...

It would appear that your landlord warned you about these dogs and you continued to have them reside with you.  As stated above, be glad you did not end up evicted because of this.

You can, of course, sue the landlord for what you believe you are fairly owed regarding this matter.  You can then explain to the court your justification for allowing dogs to reside in the rental unit (even just on weekends) although your lease seemed to forbid such and you had already received one warning from the landlord regarding this.

The court will then decide who is "more right" in this matter.


I'm a dog person and had dogs as a renter. I allow dogs as a landlord, but ONLY if they're allowed on that particular lease. If the tenants don't have dogs, then they have a "no dogs" agreement, and if they want to bring dogs into the unit, they must get prior approval (and typically, an extra deposit) from me, for those specific dogs, based on an in-person evaluation of the dogs' temperaments. 

If a tenant is bringing dogs in despite them having signed a "no dogs" agreement, they would have gotten one warning the first time, then a 72 hour notice to cure or quit.

Your landlord should not be able to charge a pet fee if that's not in the agreement. She should have just evicted you after the warning. 

You could definatly take her to court to fight this issue. You may win, you may lose. It will depend on the judge as both sides have a argument.

I would not bother as a tenant and chock it up to experience. You break the rules you pay the price.

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