Can my landlord charge me a pet deposit after I have already moved in with pets?

UPDATED: Jun 21, 2011

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Can my landlord charge me a pet deposit after I have already moved in with pets?

When we moved in they did the minimum for us to move in; they didn’t even have the carpets professionally cleaned and the tenant before us had a pitbull that peed everywhere. They just had my mother-in-law, who is also a tenant, do it. When I moved in I already had a dog but they said do not worry about a pet deposit. I have since gotten rid of my dog and got 2 cats and they still didn’t ask for a deposit. I now want to get another dog and they saying that I have to pay $400 to have a dog and it is not refundable. Is there any way to fight this?

Asked on June 21, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Washington


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

During the middle of a lease term, the landlord may not change the rules regarding pets or increase the fees or deposits you have to pay. So while a lease is in force, unless the lease itself provides for a pet deposit, etc., the landlord can't charge it.

When a lease is up, the landlord may make changes to it before a new lease is signed; so on renewal, the landlord could require a pet deposit going forward. If you don't have a written lease, you are a month to month tenant, which means that the landlord may change the terms or require a pet deposit on one month's notice, but again, only going forward--not for the time prior to the change being made.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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