People in the Bay Area love their pets. This has become even more apparent during the Covid-19 pandemic, which has increased the demand for animal companionship. As a pet parent who rents, rather than owns, you have to keep in mind certain restrictions for tenants and their pets.
Yes, landlords have the right to charge extra money for pets, (typically through a pet deposit or pet fee). Remember that buildings don't have to accept pets at all, which is different than service animals or support animals.
The way that they can charge is measured by California law. For instance, under the San Francisco Administrative Code, landlords are required to pay tenants interest on deposits if they are held for more than a year. The pet security deposit is treated just like a regular security deposit. The deposit (in its entirety or a portion of) is returned to you when your lease is finalized, depending on certain conditions being met. Expect only a portion of your pet deposit back if there's damage to the unit beyond ordinary wear and tear.
The San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SFSPCA) offers Pet Agreements. A document signed by both tenants and landlords which contains many details, including the following:
Additionally, it provides express guidelines for both parties to use as a reference during the lease term.
While California law doesn't allow for a minimum or maximum allowable pet deposit, it does provide limits for security deposits. Because pet deposits are treated the same as security deposits, that information would be relevant to pet deposits; a security deposit for an unfurnished apartment can only equal up to two months' rent, which means that every part of the deposit (including the fee for the pet) can't be more than two months' worth of rent.
A pet deposit or pet fee is treated just like a regular security deposit, meaning that it must be refundable. After your tenancy is over, the landlord is only entitled to keep the amount of the security deposit or pet fee that is needed for legally determined purposes, such as cleaning the rental so that it's at the same standard of cleanliness as move-in or repairing damage that your pet made to the unit.
Animals are an important part of our lives but having them in your apartments shouldn't be a way for your landlord to take advantage of you. If your landlord tries to charge you for a pet deposit/fee that puts you over the allowed amount or you don't agree about the damage to your apartment when you're trying to get the deposit back, you may need to speak with one of Wolford Wayne's skilled attorneys. Contact us today to explore your options.
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