Pet deposits: To charge or not to charge?

Charging renters an extra deposit to keep a pet may seem to be a financially wise choice, but it is important for property managers to consider the pros and cons before making a final decision.

When landlords allow a tenant with a pet to rent their property, they may want to charge them a pet deposit to guard them from the potential damage caused by an animal the unit. However, if the landlord isn't careful, they could run into legal trouble.

For instance, according to Robert Griswold, a real estate expert with Inman News, landlords should be sure to remember that a pet deposit is not a fee. Property managers can charge a tenant a deposit for their pet, but if there is no serious damage when they leave, the money must be refunded. In fact, instead of charging a pet deposit, Griswold recommends that landlords increase their security deposit for tenants with pets, rather than deal with multiple deposits and damage analysis.

It is also not advisable for landlords to make their rental units completely pet-free, according to MSN Real Estate. Units that allow pets typically rent faster and have better tenant retention rates. Fair pet practices could lead to more incoming rental applications for property managers.