Property Management Blog

Pet Deposits, Pet Fees and Pet Rent – What’s the Difference?

Pinnacle Property Management - Monday, January 17, 2022

pet deposits

Americans love pets. According to the American Pet Products Association, about 70% of American households own at least one pet. 

That said, not all California landlords allow pets in their Torrance, Lomita or other California rental properties. Pets can scratch the floors, stain carpets, and chew up appliances. 

However, there are many advantages to renting to tenants with pets – and there ways you can protect yourself from pet-related property damages. 

In this article, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about pet deposits, pet fees and pet rent. 

What are Pet Fees? 

A pet fee is a sum of money that landlords require new tenants to pay before moving in. Unlike some other states, pet fees are legal in California.

The fee is one-time and non-refundable. 

The amount you charge should be based on the breed, number and size of pet a tenant has. Generally, the average pet fee in California is between $100 and $400. 

Pros of Charging a Pet Fee

One advantage of charging a pet fee is the upfront compensation you get for property damage. 

Another advantage is that pet fees aren’t refundable at the end of the term. 

Cons of Charging a Pet Fee 

Charging a pet fee may not cover all your risks when it comes to pet damage. That’s why some landlords choose to charge a pet deposit in addition to a pet fee for extra protection. 

Another disadvantage is that a tenant may try to negotiate the amount. Your tenant may argue that their pet doesn’t cause damage. In such a case, be prepared to explain the rationale behind charging the fee. 

man with a dog

What are Pet Deposits? 

A pet deposit is also another term that you should familiarize yourself with if you consider allowing pets. Just like a pet fee, a pet deposit is a one-time fee. However, this one is refundable at the end of the lease term. 

Its purpose is to cover property damage and losses arising from a pet’s actions. Examples of damage that a pet deposit can cover include holes in the wall, urine and feces stains, broken appliances, and scratches on floors and walls. 

Please note that non-refundable pet/security deposits are illegal in the state of California. So, if a pet doesn’t cause any damage at the time the tenant is moving out, you must refund the deposit back to the tenant. 

So, how much can you charge as pet deposit? In California, how much pet deposit/security deposit to charge depends on whether a unit is furnished or not.

For furnished units, the maximum you can charge is 3X the monthly rate. For unfurnished units, the most you can ask as security deposit is the equivalent of the rent of 2 months. 

Pros of Charging Pet Deposits 

A pet deposit reduces the risk of pet damages as the tenant will want to get their money refunded, so they will take better care of their pet and ensure that the pet doesn’t damage the unit. 

However, if there’s pet damage, a pet deposit will ensure that you have money for repairs. 

Cons of Charging Pet Deposits

It’s illegal for California landlords to charge a separate pet deposit. And the total deposits should abide by the state’s maximum for furnished and unfurnished rentals. 

tenants with a dog pet

What is a Pet Rent?

Unlike the pet fee and pet deposit, a pet rent isn’t a one-off charge. A pet rent recurs each month. And just like the other two, the purpose of a pet rent is to cover a landlord against any additional wear and tear that can occur in the unit. 

When it comes to the pet rent, the standard protocol involves both parties agreeing upon the total rent price. Generally, a pet rent is about $35 a month. Of course, this can vary depending on a multitude of factors. 

Pros of Charging a Pet Rent 

The main advantage is that it serves as an extra source of income for a landlord. After all, the goal of any landlord is to maximize their return on investment

Con of Charging a Pet Rent 

Tenants with multiple pets may find your pet-friendly rental less affordable if you charge a pet rent. 

How to Protect Yourself when Accepting Pets into Your Rental Property 

Besides making your property pet-friendly and charging the appropriate fees, there are a couple of other things you can do to protect yourself and your property.

man with dog on shoulder

Here are some of the things you can do: 

  • Impose the necessary restrictions. For example, you can choose to only accept specific breeds and impose weight limits. 
  • Add a pet policy to your lease agreement. For instance, require tenants with pets to carry pet insurance coverage. You may also require that they keep an ID tag at all times. 
  • Add pet-friendly finishings in your unit. When it comes to the paint, for instance, go for semi-gloss paint. As for the floors, go for laminate floors, porcelain tiles or hardwood floors. The goal here is to make the maintenance of the property as easy as possible for your tenants. 

Bottom Line

The demand for pet-friendly rentals is on the rise. As a result, you should make your units as pet-friendly as possible.

Collecting pet deposits, pet fees and pet rent can help protect you financially from pet-related damages and issues.

We hope this article was helpful!

If you have further questions, feel free to contact Pinnacle Property Management today. 


Pinnacle Property Management
CA DRE # 01905815
22700 Crenshaw Blvd.
Torrance, CA 90505
Ph: (310) 530-0606
Fax: (310) 626-9786
Email: pinnacle@pinnaclepmc.com

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