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

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Realty Management Associates boise pet deposits

The demand for pet-friendly rentals is on the rise. With so many prospective tenants with pets, it only makes sense for landlords to consider allowing Fluffy and Fido into their premises. 

As with many landlord-tenant laws, pet rules tend to vary greatly from one state to another. That being said, one thing holds true, landlords have a right to reject pets from their rental property, with the only exception being companion or service animals

As a landlord, you’re also within your right to have a pet policy in place. In the policy, you may be able to further restrict the pets you allow in regards to, say, their size, number, and type. 

If you allow pets in your Caldwell property, it’s imperative to arm yourself with certain knowledge to avoid getting into legal trouble. 

Ways Landlords Charge for Pets 

Allowing pets into your rental property has many benefits. For example, you may be able to ask for a higher rent and attract a bigger pool of prospective tenants. It, however, carries several risks as well, like pet-related damages. 

Luckily for you, you may be able to protect yourself against any liabilities by charging tenants for pets. The following are three ways in which you can do that: 

  • Pet deposit
  • Pet fee
  • Pet rent
  • Pet policies, and more
Boise Idaho pet policies

But before charging a tenant for pets, make sure to check your state’s tenancy laws to make sure you’re allowed to do so. Now, let’s go into more detail on what each of these charges means and entail. 

What is a Pet Deposit?

A pet deposit is similar to a security deposit. It’s an upfront payment that is meant to cover you against any potential damages that a tenant may cause. However, while security deposits are legal in almost every state in the U.S., separate pet deposits may not be. 

In Idaho, for example, there are no laws regarding pets. As such, this means that you may be able to charge a separate pet deposit. That said, make sure not to overcharge tenants, as that may make your unit less desirable to prospective tenants. 

Pros of charging a pet deposit: 

  • Encourages a tenant to be more responsible and manage their pets better.
  • A refundable pet deposit is more attractive in comparison to charging a non-refundable fee. 
  • You can use part or all of the pet deposit to cover any pet damage. 

Cons of charging a pet deposit:

  • You can’t use it for any other purpose other than pet-related damage. 
  • You cannot commingle the pet deposit with a tenant security deposit. 
pet deposits in Idaho

What is a Pet Fee? 

Unlike a pet deposit, a pet fee isn’t refundable at the end of the rental term. A pet fee is a one-time, non-refundable fee that landlords retain whether or not damage occurs. Generally, pet fees range anywhere between $200 and $300. 

Landlords usually differ on how to go about charging their tenants. Some charge tenants based on the number of pets, while others charge tenants based on the breed and size of the pet. 

Just like pet deposits, pet fees aren’t legal in every state. So be sure to check local and state laws before charging your tenants. 

Pros of charging a pet fee:

  • Pet fees aren’t refundable at the end of the rental term. 
  • Tenants may prefer it rather than a pet deposit, as the amount is usually lower. 
  • Accounting for a pet fee is much easier when compared to a pet security deposit. 

Cons of charging a pet fee:

  • Tenants may not like it as it isn’t refundable. 
  • Requiring a pet fee as well as a pet deposit may make a rental too costly for tenants. 
  • A pet fee may not be sufficient to cover serious pet damage. 

What is a Pet Rent? 

Unlike a pet fee or a pet deposit, pet rent is a recurring monthly charge. And just like the others, pet rent is intended to cover a landlord against any additional wear and tear on the unit. The amounts changed for pet rent vary depending on the number and size of pets. 

allowing pets in your rental property

Pet rent may be calculated as a percentage of the monthly rent. For instance, 1 percent or 2 percent per pet per month. So, if the rent price is $1,000 a month, then the pet rent would range anywhere between $10 and $20 every month. 

Pros of charging a pet rent:

  • Acts as an extra rental income to a landlord. 
  • The small fee can be attractive to tenants. 
  • The additional net operating income (NOI) can help make your rental property more valuable. 

Cons of charging a pet rent:

  • The pet rent may become unattractive for renters on tight budgets. 
  • Tenants with multiple pets may look for a more affordable pet-friendly rental. 

Preparing Your Property for Pets 

Renting to tenants with pets carries several advantages. That notwithstanding, overcharging your tenants can negate any competitive advantage your property may have against properties that don’t allow pets. 

The following information should help you make your rental pet-friendly:  

  • Replace the carpet with tile flooring and including screens on windows for added protection. 
  • Have a good pet policy in place to avoid misunderstandings. 
  • Know the fair market rent so that you don’t overcharge tenants. 
  • Screen tenants with pets thoroughly. 
Boise Idaho pet rent policies


There you have it, the difference between pet deposits, pet fees, and pet rent. With demand for pet-friendly rentals on the rise, it only makes sense for landlords to accommodate these beloved animals.

If you need further help in this regard or require property management services, contact Realty Management Associates, Inc. We are a professional property management company serving the Greater Boise Metro Area.