What does a non-refundable pet deposit cover?

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What does a non-refundable pet deposit cover?

Asked on January 27, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

There is no single, simple answer, since what the pet deposit covers is determined by the agreement between the landlord and the tenant, such as is set out by the lease.

Generally speaking, a "non-refundable" deposit is not really a deposit per se--it's more like a fee. (Your security deposit is a true deposit, since you get it back to the extent it's not used.) Usually, the idea between a non-refundable pet deposit or pet fee is that a pet will do certain damage, create certain messes, etc., over and above the normal damage a tenant might do, and therefore the tenant pays extra for the privilege of having a pet. However, if there is damage to the rental unit above and beyond the normal wear and tear, the landlord can recover the cost to repair from the tenant, even if the damage was caused by the pet--that is, the pet "deposit" is not actually offset against the cost of repairs. Again, it's really an extra fee or cost, if unrefundable, for the privilege of having a pet.


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