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When you start searching for a new apartment rental, you already know you’ll have to pay the rent each month, but will you also have to pay a rental fee for your dog? You can get slapped with monthly fees for your four-legged family members. It’s called “pet rent,” and you may be faced with a decision on whether or not you’re willing to pay it. Should you?

What Is Pet Rent?

Typically, pet owners pay an additional deposit during the lease signing that covers any wear and tear the pet does to the rental. Pet rent, which is becoming increasingly more common, especially in corporate-owned apartment complexes, works differently. With pet rent you’ll pay a monthly fee as long as you and your pet live in the rental. The fee is relatively small — usually $35 or less — and is considered a discretionary charge, meaning the landlord can legally include this extra charge in your lease, in most cases.

On the surface, pet rent may seem like just another way for a landlord to make money off a tenant, but some landlords argue that pets cause extra wear and tear on the apartment building and require additional maintenance. For example, pet rent covers damage to landscaping or wear and tear on carpets in the lobby.

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Advantages of Pet Rent Fees

While it may not seem like there is any advantage to paying another rental fee, you might get a better deal by paying pet rent. Say, for example, you’re comparing two apartment complexes with similar apartments. One complex charges $985 a month with a $300 non-refundable pet deposit and no pet rent. The other charges $900 a month with a $150 refundable deposit and $15 a month pet rent. For a 12-month lease at the first complex you’d pay $12,120. But you’d only pay $11,130 at the second complex and may get back your $150 refundable pet deposit.

Being willing to pay a pet deposit could give you more rental options, especially if you have a special circumstance. While many landlords are only willing to allow pets with specific rules, such as one pet per household or a small weight limit, other landlords may be willing to accept your three cats or large dog if you agree to pay a monthly fee.

Disadvantages of Pet Rent Fees

Pet rent also has a few big disadvantages. Namely, paying another fee that will add up over the course of the lease. Say, for example, you sign a 12-month lease with a $25 pet rent fee. Over the course of the lease, you’ll end up paying an extra $300.

If you’re a long-term renter, a small monthly fee becomes an even bigger deal. If you renew your lease for another year, you’ll pay $600 in total, and if you decide to stay put for five years you’ll end up paying $1,500 in pet rent alone.

Alternatives to Pet Rent Fees

While you could simply walk away from any rental with pet rent, you might have luck negotiating with the landlord. For example, if you’re planning on staying in a rental for a year or more and know your pet won’t cause problems, you could use that information as leverage and offer to sign a longer lease in lieu of paying pet rent. You could also offer to pay a higher upfront pet deposit to cover any wear or tear your pet causes to the building. It may not work, but many landlords are willing to negotiate with tenants.

This article originally appeared on
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