Should I charge a pet fee or pet deposit?

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If you allow pets in your rental, it’s in your best interest to cover your bases with some form of pet protection. You can choose to charge a one-time refundable deposit or a monthly fee, but be aware that there are some restrictions with both options. Rentler’s free property management software allows you to include a one time or monthly fee when tenants pay rent online.

Like most landlord laws, guidelines for pet fees and deposits can vary from state to state. In some states, like California, there is a limit to how much you can charge for a deposit and you need to make sure you include a pet deposit in that number. In some states, you can’t charge a pet deposit or fee for service animals.

One word of warning: charging a pet deposit can limit you when it comes to paying for the damage. Legally, a pet deposit can’t be used to pay for anything other than damage caused by an animal. So if you lower your standard to deposit in order to charge a pet deposit (and still stay under the deposit limit amount) you will be.

If you’re still concerned about damage, it’s also within your rights as a landlord to restrict the types of pets you allow. Many property owners choose to allow cats and small dogs if the space is small.

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