Deciding whether to accept pets as a landlord can be challenging. While you’re obligated to accept service animals, you’re otherwise free to deny pets or place restrictions on the type of animals you approve. That being said, the majority of renters today have animal companions, and choosing to accept them means you can increase your rental income, as tenants with pets expect to pay more for a rental property. You can also reach more potential renters. But when charging tenant pet deposits, what will they cover, and how much should you charge?
Funds to Repair Any Pet-Related Damages
Pet deposits cover anything that’s not regular wear and tear of the unit due to an animal. The pet deposit is reserved for repairing direct damage from pets—examples could include scratched or stained floors, broken furniture, chewed trim, and water damage.
However, any issues your tenants are directly responsible for—such as causing a plumbing issue or creating a pest problem through improper disposal of trash—can’t be fixed using the funds from the pet deposit, even if the normal security deposit doesn’t quite cover the damages.
How Much Should You Charge?
Your pet deposit amount will vary based on a few factors, including the type of pets your tenant has, how many pets they have, and what size the pets are. Tenant pet deposits typically start at $100 and could go up to $500 and even higher.
Some landlords choose to charge a percentage of the rent for pet deposits. For example, if a unit nets a rental income of $1,500 a month, the landlord could choose to charge 40% or more of the rent for a pet security deposit, which would be $600.
These deposits are considered to be refundable if there’s no damage to the property from the animal. Again, you can’t choose to keep the pet deposit for anything other than pet-related damages.
Increasing the Rent Payment for Pets
Instead of charging a refundable pet deposit, you also have the option of charging an additional monthly fee to cover any damage or wear and tear specifically from the animal.
This additional rent amount is typically referred to as pet rent and is not refundable. Pet rent can range from a few extra dollars per month to $50 and up, again based on the type, size, and amount of animals.
Some DC landlords also choose to charge what’s called a pet fee, which is a one-time fee paid to the landlord by the tenant for any potential pet-related damage. Unlike a pet deposit, this fee is usually not expensive and is non-refundable.
Let Us Take Care of Your Income Property in DC
Pet deposits are legal in DC, but that doesn’t automatically mean you know how much to charge. You want to make the smartest choice when it comes to your income property. At FAS Management, we help you make the best decisions when it comes to allowing pets in your unit. Contact us today at (202) 337-5080 to discover more about how we can help you maximize your investment!