By Adam Frisch, Managing Principal, Lee & Associates Residential NYC
Under the recently passed rent regulations in New York and in many other places across the country, it is now illegal for property owners to charge a pet deposit. Previously, it was customary for owners to take an extra half or one month’s rent from tenants with pets to ensure that the building quality wouldn’t be diminished if their pet were to cause any damage. Now that this practice is prohibited, I think that many owners will increase the base rent to cover damage or simply ban pets from their buildings entirely. Unfortunately, both scenarios will prove harmful to tenants with pets, as pet deposits were returned at the conclusion of the lease (assuming that there were no incidents) but a higher rent is money that the tenant will never be repaid.
From a property owner’s point of view, pets are generally uncontrollable and thus pose a huge risk. Owners can (and should) check a potential tenant’s credit history and employment status before admitting them into a building. However, these factors do not guarantee that someone is a responsible pet owner. When it comes to no-pet policies, I think that exceptions can be made on a case-by-case basis. For example, if someone has a full-floor apartment, their pet is far less likely to disturb others than a dog in an apartment that’s close to the neighboring unit and separated by a thin wall.
Unfortunately, I think that pet owners will ultimately agree to pay higher base rents in order to have their pets live with them. This situation represents yet another reason why rent regulations hurt both owners and tenants alike.