As a landlord there are many things that you have to think about when renting your property. One of them is will you allow your tenants to have pets? That then leads to what kinds of pets and will you charge a pet deposit? The answer should be yes, if you are allowing pets, charge a pet deposit or pet fee.
Most states, including Colorado, have no laws that prohibit a landlord from charging a pet deposit or pet fee. The only restriction in the law is under the Fair Housing Act. Under this act, if the pet is a service animal, a pet deposit may not be charged. You can ask for documentation verifying that the animal is, in fact, a service animal, and there are certain exemptions. Check with your attorney if this situation comes up. The fee or deposit can be non-refundable. Since there is no specific state law, what you charge is completely up to you, and can differ depending on the type of animal, number of them you allow and their size.
You need to be sure you tell the tenant that it is a non-refundable deposit, and put the amount, status and reason for it in the lease. Also, have the tenant describe the animal it covers, in writing as well. Also, be careful with what you determine is human and pet damage at the end of the lease. It could get you into hot water if you withhold the security deposit for something that is obviously pet damage.
So why have a pet deposit? Well, animals can, and often do, cause damage to properties. Dog nails can scratch hard wood floors. Both cats and dogs can leave smelly “accidents” that are quite difficult to remove from building materials. People who have very large aquariums can cause water damage to floors and walls. Any kind of pet can be destructive, so when determining the amount of the fee/deposit, find out what kind of pet they will have and what kind of damage it may cause. Then figure an amount that will offset the cost of fixing the damage.
People love their pets and most pet owners are responsible and take good care to be sure that their pets won’t damage your property. The deposit is a “better safe than sorry” move that will save you money in the long run!
If you would like to find out more about any Denver Property Management questions you might have, give us a call today! 303-452-5853