Renting to tenants with pets presents a unique set of challenges, yet failing to allow pets can significantly limit one’s pool of tenants. To offset the negatives, many landlords will add additional charges to tenants with pets in tow. These may come in the form of pet deposits, pet fees, or pet rent. Each of these is different from the other, and understanding the differences is key for avoiding disagreements down the line. Thus, our landlord tenant dispute lawyers in Miami are offering some insights on the subject of rental law.
Pet deposits are similar to a standard security deposit, in that they act as protection for the landlord. Specifically, pet deposits are meant to cover any damages the pet may cause to the property. Though some states dictate how pet deposits can be applied, Florida law is not quite as clear. There is no cap on the amount a landlord can charge for a pet deposit, though the amount is typically between $200 and $500. Also, it is up to the landlord’s discretion whether or not the deposit is refundable. That said, even if the deposit is referred to as such — it technically classifies as a pet fee when there is no possibility of a refund.
Much like pet deposits, pet fees usually fall anywhere between $200 and $500. These fees are non-refundable, which can be a bit unsettling if not clearly stipulated by the landlord at move in. Tenants may also be surprised to learn that these fees do not necessarily go toward damages caused by the pet. Rather, a pet fee is merely a charge granting the tenant the ability to house a pet within the rental property. Therefore, any damage that exceeds the amount of the security deposit (pet fee) will likely need to be paid by the tenant upon move out, even though a pet fee was collected in advance.
Unlike pet deposits and pet fees, pet rent comes in the form of a monthly payment that is separate from one’s rent. The cost associated with this fee can vary, and it often ranges anywhere from $25 per month to $100 per month. Additionally, it may stand alone or be charged along with a pet fee or deposit. The reasons for charging additional rent for pets may vary. Like a pet fee, it could simply be charged for the luxury of having a pet in one’s rental property. It can also be charged to account for damages caused by the pet, or potential issues that arise with neighbors due to the pet. This charge may also contribute to covering the cost of pet amenities, such as dog parks, waste stations, and so on.
Understandably, the various interpretations and applications of these costs can easily lead to misunderstandings between landlords and tenants. For this reason, it is essential for landlords to clearly communicate what the fees are intended for, and tenants should carefully read the lease prior to signing it. Qualified landlord tenant dispute lawyers in Miami can help both parties settle disagreements should they arise.
If you are currently in the midst of a landlord tenant dispute over pet rental fees, contact our office today to schedule a free consultation with a member of our experienced team.