What's the Difference Between a Pet Fee, Pet Deposit, and Pet Rent?

Come along as we explore pet rent, pet fees, and pet deposits, shedding light on their functions, costs, and refundability so you can make informed decisions when renting with pets. Let’s dive in and demystify the world of pet policies together!

Noemie Peou
Last Updated
May 23, 2024
What's the Difference Between a Pet Fee, Pet Deposit, and Pet Rent?

Navigating pet-friendly rentals can be daunting. One key consideration is how landlords charge for pets, with options including pet-related fees such as pet rent, pet fees, and pet deposits.

In this article, we’ll explore each of these payment methods, breaking down their functions, frequencies, costs, and refundability. By the end, you’ll have a clear understanding of the differences between these charges, empowering you to make informed decisions about renting with pets.

How do landlords typically charge for pets?

Making a rental property pet-friendly involves certain costs, which landlords often pass on to tenants in exchange for allowing their beloved pets on the property. These costs are generally charged in the following three forms:

  1. Pet fees
  2. Pet deposits
  3. Pet rent

Some landlords may also charge a specific pet cleaning fee to cover the costs of additional cleaning required due to pets.

Some landlords charge just one of these pet-related fees, while others ask for multiple. For instance, a landlord may require a pet deposit upon move-in in addition to monthly pet rent. Whether a landlord asks tenants to pay pet fees, a pet deposit, pet rent, or a combination of these payments is up to their discretion, so long as their requirements align with state and local laws.

Pet fees, pet deposits, and pet rent

While each of these pet-related payments aims to address the same issue, they differ in several important ways. These differences can be broken down into the following four categories:

  • Function
  • Frequency of payment
  • General cost
  • Refundable or non-refundable

It's important to note that permitted pet-related fees vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, so landlords should be sure to refer to their local landlord-tenant laws before setting anything in stone.

Pet fee


Pet fees are one-time payments made at the beginning of a pet owner’s tenancy. They aren’t directly linked to any potential pet-related damages. Instead, it’s more of a privilege fee to have a pet-friendly rental and to offset any potential repair and replacement costs down the road. Pet fees also provide additional upfront rental income to the landlord.

However, because the fee is charged at the beginning of a tenancy, it’s impossible to know whether the amount will adequately cover the cost of damages. There are various types of pet fees, and a property manager might charge multiple. For example, they might ask for a pet housing fee as well as a pet cleaning fee.


A pet fee is charged only once, typically upon move-in. Paying a one-time, flat fee can be more appealing to tenants than a recurring monthly charge, as their monthly budget won't be affected.

General price

The average pet fee ranges from $200 to $500. As a landlord, when determining how to reasonably charge pet fees, look at what your competitors are charging — you'll want to make sure your prices are competitive.

Is it refundable?

No—renters can expect to pay a non-refundable pet fee. While this provides landlords with a financial cushion and renters with reassurance that the fee will cover any minor pet damages, some tenants might think it's not fair to pay a pet fee that they can't get back, especially if they take good care of their pets and don't expect any problems. This could make them unhappy and strain their relationship with the landlord.

Furthermore, without a clear breakdown of how the non-refundable fee is calculated and what it covers, tenants may question its fairness. If disputes arise, landlords may face challenges justifying the fee. For this reason, it's important for property managers to be as transparent and upfront as possible with prospective renters about where their money is going and answer any questions they may have.

Pet deposit


Similar in function to regular security deposits, pet deposits are used to cover damages beyond normal wear and tear caused by a tenant’s pet, such as stained or excessively worn-out carpets or scratched-up surfaces. The pet deposit provides landlords with assurance that if a renter’s furry friend causes damage to the property, they’ll have funds available to pay for its repair.

Even if there is no damage, pets can leave behind odors or allergens that require additional cleaning. Pet deposits can help cover the costs of thorough cleaning and deodorizing between tenancies.

By requiring a pet deposit, landlords encourage tenants to be responsible pet owners. Knowing that their deposit is at stake, tenants may take extra care to prevent pet-related damages and maintain the property.


Pet deposits are a one-time payment charged at the beginning of a renter's tenancy, typically at the same time as the security deposit. Like the pet fee, a pet deposit doesn't affect a renter's month-to-month rental budget, which can make the cost easier to digest.

General price

Pet deposits vary widely in price, but landlords should aim to ask for $500 at most. They can either set a flat rate or charge a pet deposit based on a percentage of the tenant's rent.

Is it refundable?

Yes, pet deposits are refundable, provided the pet does not cause damages beyond normal wear and tear. Due to their refundable nature, pet deposits are the least likely to scare away prospective tenants, as renters with well-behaved pets have an incentive to take good care of the property in order to get their security deposit back upon move-out.

However, suppose the pet causes any serious damage to the rental, such as scratched doors, urine-stained floors, or other issues. In that case, landlords will deduct the associated costs for repairing these issues from the tenant's pet deposit fee.

It's important to note that when landlords charge a pet deposit, they can only use that money towards pet-related damage. Any tenant-caused damage must be repaired using the traditional security deposit.

Pet rent


Pet rent is an extra fee that some landlords ask for when you have a furry friend living with you in a rental home. It’s a small recurring monthly charge on top of your regular rent, and it helps cover the wear and tear that pets can cause to the property.

Landlords might charge pet rent because they want to make sure they have enough money to keep the place nice for everyone, including cleaning up after pets and fixing any damage they might accidentally cause. It’s kind of like pitching in a bit extra to make sure your pet can enjoy the space with you.


Pet rent is usually charged as a recurring monthly charge, meaning it's added to your regular monthly rent bill. Unlike pet fees, which are one-time payments, pet rent is ongoing, like a small subscription fee for having a pet in your home. So, tenants should budget for it along with their other monthly expenses.

General price

Depending on the rental property's location, size, and market conditions, monthly pet rent costs an average of between $20 and $50.

Is it refundable?

No — pet rent is typically not refundable. Since pet rent is a monthly fee, pet-owning tenants will need to factor it into their monthly budgets. Unreasonably high pet rent can turn a sweet rental deal sour, so it's important that landlords keep costs reasonable so as to not dissuade interested renters from renting.

When is a landlord prohibited from charging for pets?

Federally, there are no laws prohibiting pet rent, pet fees, or a pet deposit. However, Californians should note that charging a non-refundable pet fee is illegal in their state.

Each state has a limit on how much a landlord can charge in pet-related fees. While most simply require that the fees be “reasonable,” some states, such as North Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Delaware, have specific limits.

Service animals

Landlords cannot, under any circumstances, ask a tenant to pay fees for a service animal or emotional support animal. These animals aren't considered "pets" in the eyes of the law, so pet fees do not apply to them. Charging a pet fee for assistance animals would violate the Fair Housing Act, potentially resulting in costly legal repercussions.

How to make sure pet fees are set correctly

To ensure fairness, try to set up pricing ahead of time according to the type of pet based on size, potential for pet-related damages, additional costs for each additional pet, etc. A guinea pig, for example, shouldn’t necessarily cost the same amount to house as a great dane.

Compare rates in similar properties in your area to make sure your pricing is reasonable — exorbitant pet-related fees can deter potential tenants from renting with you. Conversely, inadequate pet charges can leave you in the red when making serious repairs after a tenant and their pet move out.

Nothing’s set in stone until the lease is signed, meaning that all of these fees are negotiable. Come into the pet fee conversation from an informed perspective, and you might get a better outcome than you had going in.

Have a pet addendum in place to lay out exactly how much and when pet fees will be charged, as well as any pet policy you may have, in order to pre-empt any questions tenants may have.

Making informed decisions

We've explored the ins and outs of pet fees, deposits, and rent, uncovering how each plays a unique role in making rental properties furry friend-friendly. Remember, whether you're a landlord or a tenant, understanding these pet-related charges is key to a peaceful renting experience.

While we've covered a lot of ground, it's essential to remember that pet policies can vary depending on where you are. So, landlords, be sure to check your local regulations to stay on the right side of the leash. And tenants, don't forget to ask questions and clarify any uncertainties about pet fees before signing on the dotted line.

In the end, creating a pet-friendly rental environment is all about balance and communication. By approaching pet-related charges with care and transparency, we can make sure both tenants and their furry pals feel right at home. Here's to happy tails and happy renting!

Pet fee vs. pet deposit vs. pet rent

Can I use a security deposit to cover pet damage?

This depends on your local and state laws regarding how security deposits can be used. However, most states do permit the use of a security deposit for pet damage.

Can landlords deny a pet?

If a tenant has an emotional support animal, the landlord cannot deny the animal and must make reasonable accommodations to house the animal if necessary.

Otherwise, in most places, landlords can deny a pet based on insurance considerations, liability concerns, or perceived risk associated with certain breeds.

How much are most pet deposits?

Pet deposits are typically between $200 and $500. They should be high enough to cover any potential pet-related damage but reasonable enough that they don't price out pet-owning potential tenants. 

Important Note: This post is for informational and educational purposes only. It should not be taken as legal, accounting, or tax advice, nor should it be used as a substitute for such services. Always consult your own legal, accounting, or tax counsel before taking any action based on this information.

Noemie Peou

Noémie, a Penn State English graduate, is an editor, writer, and social media expert. With experience at a literacy nonprofit and credit-building startup before Azibo, she has French-Cambodian heritage and is based in Philadelphia. Outside of work, she enjoys sewing, curating niche Spotify playlists, and feng shui-ing her apartment.

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