Pet Rent: Why I And Millions Of Others Can’t Have Furry Companions

This cat isn't thrilled about paying monthly rent, either. (Melisa Bernard)

This cat isn’t thrilled about paying monthly rent, either. (Melisa Bernard)

If my husband had a dollar for every time I whined about wanting to get a cat, we’d probably have enough money to pay the steep costs of the deposit and monthly pet rent fees charged by our apartment complex. The costs associated with having pet now go far beyond food, grooming and veterinary bills to include lodging – in addition to, you know, human rent.

The Associated Press reports that pet security deposits and monthly pet rent has become the norm for the millions of pet owners living in apartments and rental properties across the nation.

Pet security deposits can reach into the hundreds of dollars, while rental payments range anywhere from $10 to $50 per month. In many cases, the fees are non-refundable.

Some pet owners, like Los Angeles-based Fred, say they’re feeling the pinch and are often faced with choosing between their pets and a place to live. He recently moved out of an apartment that was charging $50 a month for him to keep his Pomeranian.

“They are exploiting the fact that more and more people have pets,” he said. “First they ask for a deposit, then rent. How much more are they going to try and squeeze out of us?”

Tammy Kotula, a spokesperson for online listing subscription service Apartments.com, says just two years ago the pet rents were rather unheard of.

According to a renter surveys from Apartments.com, 78% of renters say they paid a pet deposit, up from 63% that paid one the following year. Of the residents who paid deposits, 29% reported paying monthly pet rent this year, another increase from 20% that paid last year.

While many rental and property management companies use the funds brought in from pet deposits and monthly rentals to pay for things like dog-poop picker-uppers and cleaning services when a resident moves out, others have added the cost to boost their bottom-line.

A manager of over 400 properties in Oregon tells the AP she added a monthly fee and deposit after she was told the charge was becoming the norm and that it could help boost revenue.

“One out of 50 people will say, ‘I can’t believe you charge pet rent,’ but most accept it,” she says.

The woman’s properties charge a $500 deposit and $20 a month for dogs, while cats have a $10 monthly fee and a $400 deposit.

A rental company in Maple Grove, MN, charges $40 per month for dogs, with a deposit between $400 and $600.

A quick survey of my Consumerist brethren found a mixed bag when it comes to pet policies in the areas we call home.

Like I previously mentioned, I’d love to have a cat (or 9), but pet ownership has been vetoed for now.

But if we do join the club, we’ll have to abide by our Arlington, VA, apartment company’s policy, which only allows cats. Residents can have a maximum of two cats for which they must pay $30 per month per cat, and that’s after forking over a $300 initial pet fee.

Kate, who also live in Arlington, recalls paying a flat fee of $150 to her property management company when her family adopted a cat five years ago. The one-time, flat-rate fee, which covers up to two cats, has since increased to $200. No dogs are allowed in her building.

Mary Beth in New York says she’s never paid a monthly fee or deposit for her cat. Lucky!

Fido will cost you: Pet rents become apartment fad [The Associated Press]