More renters have pets than ever before… 

So, it’s important to accommodate their furry friends– or accept that it might be harder to fill your vacancies. 

In fact, according to the American Pet Products Association’s (APPA) 2022 National Pet Owners Survey, a whopping 70% of U.S. households– 90 million families– own a pet. 

More significant is the fact that the number has been steadily increasing for decades, with it being just 56% in 1988 and then 67% recently in 2019.

If that’s convincing and you’ve decided it makes sense to you to allow pets, the next question is then how much to charge for pet rent.

Even if you aren’t quite convinced whether it’s the right move for you, we’ll review the pros and cons as well as what the difference is between pet rent and pet deposits.

Together, the goal is to give you the full picture so you can make an educated decision about what is best for you and your properties.  

Let’s start with breaking down the difference between some common terms. 

What is the difference between pet rent vs. pet fee vs. pet deposit?

If you’ve just started considering allowing pets, you’ve likely run into terms such as pet rent and pet deposit.

There is a difference, and understanding the difference between each is important in helping you decide which is best for you and why.

Pet rent vs. deposit

Pet rent

Pet rent is a monthly charge added on top of the tenant’s monthly rent amount. 

Pet rent is:

  • Typically between 1-3% of the monthly rent amount
  • Non-refundable
  • And made part of the tenant’s regular rent payment 

Depending on how much you charge, you may be able to collect a bit more from pet rent than a standard pet deposit or fee. 

However, you don’t get that amount upfront, which is a trade-off worth noting.

Pet deposit

A pet deposit is a one-time refundable deposit much the same as a regular security deposit, but designed specifically to cover property damage caused by said tenant’s pet(s). 

A pet deposit is nice because it acts as an incentive to your tenants to keep up the property. 

If they avoid damage, they’ll get their deposit back. If not, they’ll be giving away that $200-500 deposit to pay for the damages. 

Pet fee

A pet fee is like a pet deposit in that it is a one-time fee, but it differs in that it is a non-refundable fee designed to cover wear-and-tear

Typically a pet fee is anywhere from $100-500 depending on the size of the pet and other factors. 

A pet fee is nice as it is guaranteed income to cover any kind of damage, whereas a pet deposit is refundable. 

However, there is no incentive to the tenant to keep up the property because they’ve already paid the fee.

A note on charging pet rent, fee, or deposits for service and assistance animals

Before we move on, it’s important to note that there are laws stipulating special treatment for service animals and assistance animals. 

Some information online claims that landlords aren’t allowed to charge any kind of pet fee. This isn’t 100% correct.

You’re not allowed to charge pet fees, but you are allowed within the realm of Fair Housing Law to charge a deposit to recoup damage caused by the service or assistance animal. 

According to the Humane Society’s Fair Housing Act and Service Animals page:

Service and assistance animals are not technically pets and owners do not have to pay pet fees. The landlord, however, can charge a security deposit and may still seek money from the tenant if there is any damage caused by the animal to the home. Also, if there is a nuisance issue the landlord does have the right to try to remove the assistance animal through legal proceedings.

Keep this in mind when considering how to accommodate potential tenants with service and assistance animals. 

Pros and cons of pet rent (and allowing pets)

Allowing pets comes with a number of benefits– as well as some drawbacks.

Let’s start with the pros then move on to the cons:

Pet Pros and Cons

Pro: Charge more for rent

The most attractive benefit for many landlords, offering pet rent allows you to effectively charge more for rent.

How much depends on you and your area, but the amount typically ranges between $10-100 extra per month. 

Pro: Access to a larger pool of renters

The commonly cited benefit and one we touched on earlier, it can’t be denied that allowing pets instantly increases your pool of prospects significantly. 

It’s hard enough to deal with vacancies. To reduce your number of applicants by as much as two-thirds makes that job significantly harder. 

Pro: Reduced turnover 

One often overlooked benefit is the potential for reduced turnover.

How exactly does allowing pets lead to reduced turnover? 

Tenants with pets are more likely to become “rooted” to their place of residence, and it is harder for them to up and move with a pet (partly because they’ll have to find somewhere that accepts pets!). 

This means those tenants you have with pets are more likely to stay with you regardless of the reason than consider moving. 

Con: Potential property damage

Normal wear-and-tear is a common occurrence, but in some cases pets can cause more serious property damage.

While pet rent or a pet deposit can cover property damage, there is no guarantee that it will be enough to cover the full cost. 

Con: Potential noise complaints and disturbances 

A lesser con but still one worth mentioning is that pets can sometimes cause noise complaints or other disturbances.

Just as how adding tenants and placing them together can sometimes cause issues between them, pets add their own element to the mix, typically by way of excessive barking when they hear noises from outside or through a wall.

Con: Potential lawsuits in rare occurrences  

This last con is incredibly rare but important to mention to understand what can potentially happen in some cases.

If an animal believes that it or its owner is in danger, even a trained pet can– in some very rare instances– lash out and cause harm. In that event, someone may be injured, leading to a lawsuit. 

How much should you charge for pet rent?

Earlier, we touched on how much is typically charged for pet rent.

However, deciding how much you should charge is a different matter.

If you’ve decided that allowing pets is in your property and business’ best interest, it’s now time to decide what kind of pet fee to charge and how much.

DoorLoop how much to charge pet rent

If you’ve decided to charge pet rent, that amount is usually between $10-100 per month.

How do you decide exactly how much to charge? One common factor is the size and number of the pets.

A golden retriever or labrador is going to warrant a higher pet rent or deposit than a tiny chihuahua. 

Similarly, three tiny chihuahuas might warrant the same pet fee as a single retriever.

It also depends on your area. Most states have a cap to the amount of pet rent you can charge relative to the monthly rent amount.

Make sure to check with your state to know how much you’re allowed to charge for pet rent first before setting your rate. 

What to include in a pet addendum on your lease 

Now that you’ve decided to allow pets into your property, you’ll want to add a pet addendum to your lease agreement.

A pet addendum is an addition to a lease stipulating the policies that tenants must follow regarding their pets. 

By reviewing that addendum with your new tenants and having them sign the agreement, you’re making clear what is and isn’t acceptable to you as landlord. 

So, make sure to include these two items in your addendum:

  • Rules (agreeing to regular inspections, etc.)
  • Signed acknowledgement from the tenant of said rules

For more information about adding a pet addendum to your lease agreement, read our guide: Pet Addendum and Clauses In A Rental Lease Agreement.

Should you rent to tenants with pets? Is pet rent worth it?

Whether you should allow pets is entirely up to you, though it certainly can be worth it. 

You might find that allowing pets opens you up to more revenue, longer-term tenants, and a larger pool of applicants.

On the other hand, you might have no trouble filling your vacancies and see pets as not worth the trouble and more hassle than anything. 

Either way, we hope this guide has helped you decide if it’s in your best interest as well as figure out how much to charge for pet rent. 

David is the co-founder & CMO of DoorLoop, a best-selling author, legal CLE speaker, and real estate investor. When he's not hanging with his three children, he's writing articles here!