Let's talk pets in a rental house

47 Replies

Hi everyone,

How does everyone handle pets in their rentals. Currently in PA. 

pet deposits, non refundable pet fees, or pet rent? why or why not? and what are the fees you use for dog, cat, rabbit, ginea pig? 

I'm leaning more towards non refundable one time fee.


We use $300 one time non refundable fee and $35 rent per dog, two dogs maximum. Firm no cats policy, because I have been burned every time I try it. I would not charge for a ginea pig, fish or lizard, because they mostly stay in cages or tanks. Maybe for a rabbit, because they can spend more time out of cages and they are larger. 

Most of my clients are cool with dogs.  Yes, they will scrape paint on the front and back doors. However, cat spray is a nightmare. Even when you pull the carpet and the pads, you have to paint the baseboards.  Here in Alabama, the heat and humidity bring it straight out of the subfloor.  If the home is on a slab, it will seep into the concrete.  You are looking at a week with an ozone machine.  As you can tell, I'm not a fan. I do $250 for the first pet and $50 for additional pets as a non-refundable pet deposit. Pet rent is $25 per month for the 1st pet and then $10 for each additional pet. I don't allow aquariums because they can bust and cause floor damage. If you want a beta fish in a little bowl or a lizard, I'm cool with it.  No on mice, rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and chinchillas.  I don't know if you have ever lost a chinchilla, but they will get in a wall, and it's not a good time.  

Not only do I allow but I encourage dogs and make sure all backyards have a fence to make it easier.  Personally I like them, business wise I charge an extra 35/dog plus an extra refundable security deposit of 650.  I want it refundable since it encourages them to take care of the home to get it back.  My area also does not limit deposits so I just add it into the regular deposit so it can be used for other things as well.  Cats are another story however and I'll first admit I am biased because I am very allergic.  That said while not all, but many homes with cats in them smell and it is a nightmare to get the smell out and this isn't a risk I am willing to take.  If the animal stays in a cage like a hamster I don't charge but limit fish tanks to 20 gallons.  I also prefer the monthly pet rent vs. a up front one time cost so if the tenants stay long term it is a gift that keeps giving.  Lots of tenants have pets and in my area homes that allow dogs rent faster and for more money.  I'm sure I'll get burnt at some point but so far it is a good profit center for me.  

@Linda Thomas Since we are a PM, we follow the directive of the property owner regarding individual properties. The owners that permit dogs, get a quicker tenant than the ones that don't since nearly everyone in Denver has a dog. We charge anywhere from $250-500 pet deposit depending on size of the dog. We don't allow puppies and rarely allow cats; there are breed restrictions as well. We also charge pet rent ranging from $25-50 per month. We don't charge for small rodent type pets or anything else that will be caged. We had a very bad experience with a bird once, so we don't allow those at all anymore.  

Hi Linda,

There are no "Pit Cats" only "Pet Cats.

I think cats make way better tenants than dogs.

No barking all day while the master is at work, no filling the backyard with waste, less likely to consume neighborhood children which leads to a lawsuit--unless it's a Tiger.

You might want to talk to your insurance person about large breed restriction on dogs, and add a lease clause no puppies nor "any dog that management finds undesirable". 

Cujo the mixed breed who eats neighborhood children, and bites the guy who comes over to fix the stove being possible examples of "management finds undesirable".


Good Luck!

We have found allowing pets brings in a pretty high caliber of tenant for the most part.  but we charge for it.  We do $250 non refundable pet deposit in addition to the normal security deposit, and then charge $35 for dogs and $25 for cats in pet rent.  We also don't have any breed or weight restrictions, but we have a pretty tight "pet policy" that outlines exactly what is expected and what is not permitted.  So far it has worked great.  

@Linda Thomas

I am in Pa also. I absolutely do not allow pets. I don’t care about extra money, or if it takes an extra week or two to find a good tenant. I care about my properties and having less damage, and no forever odors.

As a contractor and investor I’ve seen it all…

I definitely recommend permitting animals, with reasonable limits. You need to check your local statutes to see if there are any requirements you aren't aware of. One of my towns has a strict limit of two household pets per household and all pets must be registered with the City. It's important to know the laws.

We require a monthly increase to the rent based on the type and size of the animal. The increase is in place for the full term of the lease, even if the pet is removed three years later. We also charge a mandatory $300 non-refundable fee for a cat and for any animal less than one year old because. Why one year? Because that indicates it's young or the owner hasn't had time to properly acclimate to the animal and train it. I've seen some really good renters get an animal from the shelter that is 3+ years old  but it's not trained and scratches up doors, tears up flooring, chews window ledges, etc.

Never again, for pets. No renter that I have had respects their lease. Allowing 2 dogs turns into puppies. My current tenants brought in 2 extra puppies, snakes, rats and turtles. Thankfully their lease is up. I am replacing drywall, engineered floors, and trim...over $5k .

@Linda Thomas

It depends on your market and property I guess, but the way I look at it, if I can get a good qualified tenant without a pet , that is much better than one with a pet.

Pets can easily do more damage than the entire deposit.

I have allowed pets with a pet fee and monthly fee. My current tenants do not have a pet. I am seriously considering switching to no pets after they leave. I spent countless hours steam cleaning to get rid of dog smell before; I haven't switched carpet over to LVP yet which may be most of the problem. But I think the extra money, with it only being one rental, isn't worth the potential downside. 

Pet deposit and pet rent does not cover enough. If the increase is only $25-$50 per month that equals to $300-$600 per year. Cleaning fees, carpet cleaning, duct cleaning, chewed baseboards/doors, wall damages, torn up yard, etc will cost thousands to repair! Sometimes the longer wait for vacancy is worth it.

@Linda Thomas I have about 150 college students that rent from me. I learned a long time ago that not allowing pets with students is swimming upstream. My choices are:

1) Get a $350 non-refundable fee.

2) Get $0 and have them lie the entire year and say "it's my friend's dog who is visiting from ______ college for the weekend."

My guess is that 87% of college kids have either a Yorkie named Winston or a yellow lab named Bailey. 

Life is just easier when you accept pets. At least in my experience. 

I allow two free range animals per house with a non-refundable fee. I don't do pet rent - yet - it wasn't really a thing here but it seems like that's changing. I use LVP flooring and have fenced in yards, so it's pet friendly. 

I've got everything from labs to cats to chihuahuas right now, and other than the occasional hole dug in the yard or scratched door, I haven't had much in the way of damage. Honestly, I've had more damage done by children, and I can't charge extra for them, lol.

@Linda Thomas

Renovate accordingly.

ANIMAL fee. Not pet fee.

$100/ month/ dog

$50/ month / cat or other.

If it has a heartbeat, there’s a monthly fee.

Lease says “no pets”

Addendum says animal X can stay as long as items 1-10 happen/ don’t happen. If addendum isn’t followed animal gets evicted without evicting the owner. Meaning: get rid of Garfield without absolving owner of paying rent.

This is in Canada.

We're in Ohio and have tried to allow cats in the past, with non-refundable deposits.  Been burnt having to replace every floor in the house.  I know it isn't a popular view with a lot of people, but we are strictly no pets at this point.  Having to re-do floors cost WAY more than the non-refundable deposit; it's just not worth the hassle to us anymore.

My new strategy is no pet deposit or pet rent for first pet. I set baseline rent at $25 month higher than I otherwise would to compensate.  Discount of $25/month no pets. Up to two pets total. Second pet is $25 addl pet rent per month. The longer a pet is in the house, the more potential damage so pet rent to me makes sense. Keeps tenants honest about pets and is easier to swallow than a pet fee. 

I don't allow pets in my houses with any type of carpet.  I have pets myself (in truth I participate in pet rescue and foster) so I'm probably nose blind but even after getting any carpet professionally steam cleaned and after running an ozone machine in the room(s) I'll have an applicant with no pets) walk in and ask if there have been pets in the place before.

As previously suggested, make certain your insurance covers certain breeds of pets.  I have a friend who has one rental property; his tenant got a large dog (without permission to do so); the dog recently jumped the fence, attacked the neighbors dog; the neighbor intervened and got bit in the process.  Now the landlord is receiving threatening letters from the ambulance chaser the neighbor hired.  It's not unusual that if a tenants dog does something bad that might end up in a lawsuit, it's the one considered having the "deep pockets" that might end up in court.

Oh, a no puppies.  Again, I do animal rescue.  I know what damage those cute little puppies can do.

For approval of pets, a $300 refundable deposit, proof of spaying or neutering and proof of monthly flea treatments.

Originally posted by @Linda Thomas :

Hi everyone,

How does everyone handle pets in their rentals. Currently in PA. 

pet deposits, non refundable pet fees, or pet rent? why or why not? and what are the fees you use for dog, cat, rabbit, ginea pig? 

I'm leaning more towards non refundable one time fee.


@Linda Thomas  What I do with my rentals in Columbus is $300 Non-refundable and $25-$35 per month on top. I only allow small animals and a maximum of 2 animals.  

If you want to allow animals, that's fine, but the amounts you guys are charging as deposits and fees won't cover any serious damage. I think better to wait for a tenant with no pets. Just my opinion, and yes I have allowed pets in the past...