Pet Deposits and North Carolina Law
Some states do not allow landlords to charge a separate pet deposit. But here’s why tacking on an extra few hundred dollars is not in your best interests.
Say a prospective tenant has a pet and you charge an additional fee of $500 in addition to the $1000 security deposit. Your tenant moves out, and you find that they’ve trashed your apartment. There are holes in the wall, unpaid rent and bills, and torn carpeting. The damages come to $1500.
Well, at least you have those deposits! But wait… you don’t. If the pet did not cause any of the damages, you must return that $500 pet deposit. Then you’re also footing the bill for the remainder of those costs.
In North Carolina, landlords and business managers can charge a “reasonable” and nonrefundable fee for this purpose. Sounds like a better deal, right? Again, you may want to think twice before pursuing this option.
Charging a non-refundable pet fee can turn off potential renters. Millennials, for example, who make a significant percentage of your market, value their pets deeply. They want to live in an environment where they feel welcome and where they are not, in effect, penalized for having a pet. This applies to age demographics beyond Millennials, of course. If you have issues with vacancies, charging a fee can worsen the problem.
Should you charge a pet fee? It’s your call, and landlords often determine the amount based on the type of animal, its size, and how many pets are in the rental unit. Just make sure to weigh the pros and cons before you decide on a policy for your building. If you need help, don’t hesitate to give us a call!