Should I Charge a Pet Deposit? Your Landlord Questions Answered

Happy family at home
With such high demand for housing in California, being a landlord in San Diego can be very rewarding. Whether you own a condo near Mission Beach or a single-family home in Santee, you’re unlikely to have any trouble attracting renters.  But before you list your rental, there are some decisions you’ll have to make, such as whether the property is pet-friendly. And if it is, will you charge a pet deposit? Here’s what to consider before you decide on the pet policy for your California rental home.  

Should You Allow Pets?

First, consider whether you want to allow pets on the property. The main downside? Pets can cause damage to your place. This could mean increased costs to fix up the home once your tenants move out. But if that’s the only thing causing your hesitation, you could just collect a pet deposit that will cover any pet damage. Also, there are some advantages of welcoming pets to your California rental home. First, your listing will appeal to more people, since about 68% of Americans have at least one pet yet not all landlords allow pets.  This will give you a wider pool of interested applicants for your San Diego rental home. Not only will this help you rent it out faster, but you may also be able to charge a bit more than other landlords in the area. Some landlords charge a pet deposit and a monthly pet rent on top of standard rental fees. You can even go one step further and advertise the household as being super pet-friendly. A dog door, big backyard and proximity to a dog park are all examples of pet-friendly amenities that you can mention in the rental listing.  And if your property is close to Dog Beach on Ocean Beach, be sure to call that out to appeal to California dog owners! If you decide to allow pets, keep in mind you don’t have to allow every type of animal. You can decide if you’ll allow cats, small dogs, large dogs, etc.  You can even require a pet interview before you approve a tenant’s application. During the interview, you can ask questions about the pet, such as size, weight, age, and medical and behavioral history.  The pet interview is a task that the right property manager in San Diego can help you with if you’re not sure what to ask.  

Pet Fees, Pet Rent & Pet Deposits: What Are the Differences?

Allowing pets inside your San Diego rental home will help you rent it faster, but you should always charge a little extra to protect your home. Fortunately, there are a few ways to do that via a pet fee, pet deposit and pet rent. Here’s what to know about each one.  

Pet Fee

This is a one time fee that you charge upfront. It’s meant to cover any costs for damage the pet might do to the property. Clarify in your lease that it’s not refundable so you don’t have to give it back if there’s no visible pet damage when the renter moves out. The reason to charge a pet fee is that it can help pay for regular wear and tear or issues you discover after the renter has moved out, such as damage to the floor that you didn’t notice during the pre-move out inspection. You can combine the pet fee with pet rent or a pet deposit for extra protection.  

Pet Deposit

It’s common for landlords to charge a pet deposit, which is a onetime deposit. But unlike the pet fee, the pet deposit is refundable. This gives an incentive to renters to ensure their pets don’t damage the home, but it also protects you in case they do. So if a pet puts a hole in the wall, scratches the floors or stains the carpet, the pet deposit will pay for the damage.  

Pet Rent

Another way to protect yourself is to charge a monthly pet rent. This is a small fee — usually from $10 to $60 per month — that you charge on top of regular rent if the renters have pets. You can charge pet rent instead of a pet fee or pet deposit, or you can combine any of these options. Just note that you don’t want to add too many pet fees, or your rental might look less attractive to pet owners who don’t want to feel nickel and dimed.  If you’re not sure which fees to charge, hire a San Diego property manager for guidance. Contact us today to learn more!