Tenant Wants Deposit Back After Pet Dies

by Chris on October 28, 2010

Q. I allowed my tenant to have a dog. Apparently, it died, and now he wants the $500 pet deposit back. Do I have to return it?
-TVS Landlord

Generally, pet deposits are treated like security deposits. So, yes, in all likelihood you will have to return any unused portion, but probably not until the lease ends.

Here are a couple of things to consider:

What does your lease say? Did you limit the pet provision to only that one specific dog? Chances are you have a “pet lease” which allows for the tenant to own an approved pet. This may allow him to get another one. If you return the deposit now and he can legally get another dog, you may be left hanging in the wind if it causes damage to your unit.

Do you need to make deductions from the deposit? If the tenant is still residing in the unit, there is really no way to accurately assess whether the previous pet damaged the unit. Once this tenant moves out, you can check for hidden damage – like stains to carpet or scratches on the baseboards, that is not clearly visible behind his furnishings. If you return the deposit now, you may compromise your ability to collect for those damages later. There may be some question whether you can deduct those damages from the security deposit since you specifically asked for a pet deposit, and returned it.

What about local laws? In cases like this, your best course of action is to give your attorney a call.  The specific language of your lease agreement needs to be reviewed  in conjunction with your specific state and local laws.  But it appears clear that if you return the deposit early,  that may have some impact on your rights at the end of the lease. 

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).

Click Here to Receive Landlord Credit Reports.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in 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.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Annelies Vanderkooi January 3, 2014 at 4:18 pm

Good day – I paid a pet damage deposit on Oct 2013 when I moved into my current apartment. My pet has since deceased. Am I entitled to the pet damage deposit? I live in Victoria, BC.
Thank you,

Allan Ritchie April 23, 2017 at 12:28 am

my dog died because of the landlords both at the place I left and the place I was moving to

tammy guthrie March 18, 2018 at 6:19 pm

hi i put up a 200.00 non refundable pet deposit when i moved in to my apartment in 2016 my cat was declawed and fixed and there are no damages but in 2018 my cat died can i get another pet since i have a deposit in place already .also in 2017 the land lord said no pets allowed but because we already paid a deposit and had a cat we were grandfathered in so can we get another pet or do we ask for the deposit back. thanks tammy

gina white February 19, 2019 at 12:20 pm


my lease is up for renewal at the end of may 2019 (June 1, 2018-May 31-2019) and my landlord is asking if I plan to renew. I asked them to return my pet deposit prior to me signing a new lease as my pet died July 1, 2018 (I notified them of his passing at the time). They are refusing to return my $300 cat deposit stating they are unable to assess potential damages while I am still living there. I gave them permission to come into the apartment to conduct an inspection (which I think they should do annually anyways), prior to me resigning. I do not feel as if they should be allowed to keep my cat deposit since it would be a new lease term and under that lease term I would no have my cat. Can they legally hold my $300 cat deposit? How can I go about getting it back?

teddy sheldon December 2, 2019 at 12:51 pm

my lityle dog died 9-3-18 from a/c mold which gave him stomach cancer.
I asked for my $350.00 PET DEPOSIT BACK AFTER AN INSPECTION FROM THE OWNERS. WROTE TWICE AND NO COMMENT. My apartment is only 400 square feet and very few pieces of furniture to be moved. SHOULD I GET MY DEPOSIT BACK SINCE I DO NOT PLAN ON GETTING ANOTHER ANIMAL THERE. IS THE ONLY WAY I CAN GET THE DEPOSIT BACK TO MOVE? it has already been 14 mos?

teddy sheldon December 2, 2019 at 12:55 pm

after 14 mos. the land lord has no intention of getting my pet deposit back????

is the only way to move but then they still can keep my PET DEPOSIT AND MY

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: