Pet Agreement Overview
When you are planning to lease an apartment with one or more pets, make certain that part of your lease agreement is a pet agreement or pet addendum. The pet agreement should stipulate what the regulations are regarding pet size, type and breed, the amount of the pet deposit, what it covers and whether or not it’s refundable. State laws are all different. Some states including California, Hawaii and Montana, have made non-refundable pet deposits illegal.
Your pet agreement is a legal and binding part of your lease. If you don’t agree with it or don’t understand it, further clarification is required before you finalize your rental agreement.
Understand Your Rental Agreement
The common assumption is that the pet will cause damages. A good agreement for the landlord will require that any damages caused by the pet will first be satisfied with the pet deposit/fee and subsequently be satisfied by remaining refundable deposits. A pet agreement sets boundaries and conditions restricting what your landlord is charging you and under what conditions.
State Specific Laws
Most landlords don’t want to argue about damages when the tenancy ends. The states of Washington, Wyoming, Nevada and Arizona permit non-refundable fees. The states permitting non-refundable fees require explanations, though they don’t have to be very specific. The purpose of any non-refundable fee must be stated in the lease.
Pet Agreement – Common Inclusions
- Management authorization for pet
- Animal with breed/ history of aggressive behavior can be excluded
- Pet agreement terminates with tenant occupancy termination
- Tenancy terminates if pet agreement is broken
- Additional security deposit
- Refundable/non-refundable security deposit
- Additional pet fees
- No limit liability
- Cleaning and repair clause
- Management indemnity for litigation costs
Non-refundable deposits have been such an annoyance to some landlords that they have decided to charge a single refundable deposit covering both pet and human damage. Some states such as Wyoming, Washington, West VA, Texas, Tennessee, Vermont, Kentucky, Indiana, Florida, Colorado, Illinois, New York and Georgia do not set limits on rental deposits. That means there is no maximum amount for rental deposits in about 25% of states in the US. Landlords in these states may feel justified in requiring high deposits covering the highest likely damage.
Renting to people with pets can be a challenge to landlords both because of property damage and legal liability. People injured by residents’ pets can hold the landlord legally responsible if it can be proven that he was aware of the presence of a dangerous animal on his property.
If you have pet, you will be likely to pay a deposit which may or may not be refundable and will not have a limit in about one quarter of US states. In many cases your rental terms are negotiable. Make certain you understand your agreement and accept the terms before you sign. While pet deposits may feel like a burden to renters, landlords have tremendous liability regarding property damage and bodily harm caused by pets residing at their properties.
Did you pay a pet deposit at your apartment?