Oregon lawmakers have proposed a measure that would ban landlords there from charging pet fees or pet rent.
Landlords can continue to charge security deposits. However, the measure still is stoking some controversy.
Tenants fear that no pet rent will translate into no pets allowed and some landlords have confirmed that fear by threatening to ban pets if the bill passes.
Pet owners fear that security deposits will increase dramatically. While that money is refundable, it also must be paid upfront, which can burden tenants in the process of moving.
Tenants with no pets are concerned that rents in general will rise to compensate for landlords’ lost revenues.
Some of the controversy stems from semantics. There appears to be an assumption that landlords charge pet rent to offset potential damage that a pet may cause. That assumption ignores the fact that pet properties are a hot commodity given that more than half of renters want pets, but there are correspondingly fewer pet-friendly rentals.
If a landlord is charging pet rent to cover damage, and the pet causes no damage, then the tenant loses out. But if the landlord is charging pet rent because of the high demand for pet-friendly properties, then the state is taking away a landlord’s right to charge fair-market rent. Tenants often are willing to pay the extra amount for the privilege of keeping a pet.
Terminology is important for every landlord when renting to tenants with pets. The lease agreement should make clear whether the amount charged is a refundable deposit or a nonrefundable fee.
Another option allowed in some states is a special pet deposit, which is in addition to the general security deposit. The only time it makes sense for landlords to collect a pet deposit is where the general security deposit amount is limited by law and the state allows the additional pet deposit. A pet deposit can be applied only to pet damage, so no portion of the general deposit should be earmarked for pet damage.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.