Rental Basics in Wilmington>Question Details

Jacquelyn Sa…, Real Estate Pro in Wilmington, MA

When looking for a rental do you think a landlord can charge a pet fee?

Asked by Jacquelyn Santini, Wilmington, MA Mon Oct 22, 2012

Pet Deposits and Pet Rental Fees
If you have a pet, a landlord may demand that you pay a "pet deposit" to protect the landlord in the event that your pet causes damage to the unit. While such a deposit is clearly illegal if the landlord is also collecting a security deposit equal to the first month's rent, a landlord may not let you move in unless you agree to pay the additional deposit.
A new trend is that some landlords are also trying to charge what they are calling "pet rental fees," which take the form of an increased monthly rent if you have a pet (for example, $20 extra each month if you have a cat]. There is a question as to whether pet rental fees are legal.
If a landlord demands that you pay a pet rental fee, ask the landlord what this money is for. If the landlord or a management company says that it is to protect the landlord against damage that a pet might cause, try to convince the landlord that this is what the security deposit is for and that you feel your rent should b

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Answers

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The fees that a landlord can charge are specific and regulated.
Any landlord should be very careful.


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0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 25, 2012
How Much Can
a Landlord Request
The most a landlord can charge you when you
first move into an apartment is:
􀂃 First month's rent;
􀂃 Last month's rent payment;
􀂃 A security deposit; and
􀂃 The cost of a new lock and key.2
The last month's rent and security deposit each
can be no more than the first month's rent. For
example, if your first month's rent is $1,000, a
landlord can charge you $3,000 ($1,000 for the
first month's rent, $1000 for a security deposit,
and $1,000 for a last month's rent payment), plus
the cost of a new lock and key.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 22, 2012
Landlord's charge all kinds of fees--some charge a move-in fee, some a key fee, and so on. If they want to charge additional rent because you have a pet they may do that. They can charge any fee they want as long as it's not an additional security deposit. Landlords may legally charge only one month's rent as a security or damage deposit--and a pet fee that is refundable if there's no pet damage would fall into that category. Additional rent that you do not get back would not. You don't have to pay the additional fees or the additional rent but keep in mind that it's tough to find a landlord who will rent so someone with a pet.

Ellen G. Friedman, Keller Williams Realty, http://www.ellenfriedmanhomes.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 22, 2012
Illegal Fees
When landlords rent apartments to new tenants, they often try to get more money than just the rent. They may try to tack on extra fees such as "holding deposits," "rental fees," "pet fees," or "application fees." These extra charges are illegal. The problem is, if you refuse to pay these fees, a landlord may refuse to allow you to move in. Often, the best course is to pay the illegal fees or the illegally high rent and then take it out of your future rent payments after you have safely moved in. Again, make sure to get a written, signed, dated receipt for any money you pay.
The only extra charge the law allows is for a rental agent to charge a "finder's fee." A rental agent can charge a finder's fee only if she is a licensed real estate broker or salesperson. If the rental agent is also the landlord, the law may prohibit her from charging a finder's fee. To find out if a rental agent is a licensed real estate broker, go to the internet at: Board of Registration of Real Estate Brokers & Salespersons and click on "Check a License."
Flag Mon Oct 22, 2012
My brother pays a monthly fee for his cat to his landlord. I have to say as a landlord I think it's a fine idea. Plenty of landlords don't want to accept pets. There are good reasons for that - pets do create additional wear and tear on a place - and I say that as an animal lover - or at least a cat lover. As a result I think many tenants are ok with the fees.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 22, 2012
If a landlord is charging a pet fee they are collecting it illegally per MA LAW. Security deposit are collected for damages done to the unit. If a landlord is charging a fee you need to educate the landlord with the law especially if you're an agent .
Flag Mon Oct 22, 2012
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