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Landlord making me pay higher rent for cats...

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone, I am so furious right now.

My apartment complex has just hired new managers and they are being pain in the you-know-what....

They are trying to make me pay a $200 additional security deposit for my cats (which I understand) but...... they ALSO want an additional $50 EACH month for now on. AND they are asking me to pay the additional $50 for the past seven months (which totals to another $350) that I did not pay because they claim I did not inform them of my pets. However I DID tell the previous manager, but not in writing.

I am sooooo stressed out right now because I can't afford this. I am trying to fight this but I just want to know if anyone has ever heard of charging someone more rent just because of cats. Because I lived in several complexes before, and this sounds ridiculous to me. But I want to try to be objective about this.
post #2 of 26
Do you have a lawyer you can contact to get information on whether this is legal or not?
post #3 of 26
In most areas, rent can increase for any reason. I don't think it is against the law in MA, as I have read a very thick book on tenants rights. All you need here is a minimum of 30-60 days notice before the increase takes place, and only when your lease is due for renewal.

If you are tenant at will, you have no recourse. However, demanding rent retroactively SHOULD be against the law, IMO.
post #4 of 26
There's no way they should be allowed to charge you extra rent for past months, definitely fight that!

Friends of ours pay "pet rent", but they didn't have to pay a deposit, and if they go away, the maintenance/office people will come and feed the pets while they're away. I think it's $50/month regardless of the number of pets.

See if you can negotiate with them, and pay just a slightly higher pet deposit, and agree to 6 monthly inspections so they can see they aren't doing any damage.
post #5 of 26
a place I had called looking for an apartment charged an extra $50 a month, I told them then we wont even be thinking of your complex and hung up.
As for the past months, no that just sounds extremely wrong.
post #6 of 26
I've heard of charging a deposit for pets but never extra rent a month for them. I would definitely question the extra rent for the past few months though!
post #7 of 26
Thread Starter 
Thank you everyone for your replies. They were VERY helpful, trust me.

Unfortunately I don't have a lawyer and I cannot afford one. I am writing the management a letter right now. If they are not reasonable, then I'm going to consider a lawyer because if I win, management can be forced to reimburse me for the legal fees, right? But even if they don't, it is the princpal of this situation now. I'm 24 yrs old and I feel like they are trying to cheat me.

I agree that demanding rent retroactively should be illegal (maybe is illegal?) and I'm going to include that in my letter.

sarahp, I like your idea of asking the management to compromise by offering for them to inspect my apartment every so often and maybe having me paying a little higher security deposit (as long as it's refundable if there is no damage).

Thanks so very much all of you.
post #8 of 26
The complex I live in charges an extra $20 per animal, which would be at most an extra $40 since there's a 2 pet minimum. I do think that's kind of ridiculous, but an extra $50 per cat is appalling. I don't know if they can charge you for the back pet-rent, but I'd contact a lawyer regardless.

post #9 of 26
Call the state/// they can direct you to legal aid( we have this in Idaho and were a poor state) .... also ask about renters rights in your state
post #10 of 26
Originally Posted by FiftyFour View Post

I agree that demanding rent retroactively should be illegal (maybe is illegal?) and I'm going to include that in my letter
Just a thought on the retroactive rent charges. They are basing their claim on the fact that there was no written statement in your file regarding the fact that you own cats. This was a non-issue with the previous management, because you had a verbal agreement. Is there any way you can contact the previous manager, and get them to write a letter stating that you had this verbal agreement? If so, they will not be able to charge you for past months.

This won't help with the future rent charges though.
post #11 of 26
If you can't prove the management knew (its always better to have things like that in writing) and your original contract states there is an extra fee for rent, they can probably apply it retroactively.

Call you local legislator and state and ask them for recommendations on where to go for free or low cost help for situations like yours.

One of these groups may also be able to help you
post #12 of 26
See if there's a "grandfather clause" in your rental agreement. Sometimes when the rules are changed where renters are no longer allowed to HAVE PETS in their apartments, the ones that are already living there are "grandfathered" in, so they can stay. I don't know if this applies to rent increases. I might seek the advice of an attorney...
post #13 of 26
The other posters' ideas are all constructive and I'd find out about them if I were you. I'm also a CA resident and furious about such injustice -- people can have as many kids as they want and they can't charge extra for the destruction, noise, and inconvenience they can cause other residents, not to mention the landlord/manager! It's totally unfair. BUT having said that, the current climate domestically seems to be to mitigate against anyone who shares their life with companion animals, to the tune that many (MOSTLY CATS) are being abandoned to "shelters" and losing their lives. This is a SERIOUS problem causing many deaths annually, and compounds the current bad attitude domestically that so many people seem to have against cats (I guess they see them as of little value because their numbers are so high and they are abandoned so blithely!) A dear friend of mine spent decades campaigning, lobbying and planning for better laws for tenants who want to keep their cats (or other living beings) in rental housing. Sadly, she passed away and no one seems to have taken her place; and things have gone downhill from there. She did succeed in getting legislation passed allowing seniors to have companion animals, but as for the rest of us, I guess if people rent, they're at the mercy of these hard-hearted, unscrupulous people. I hope and pray you can talk sense to your new landlord! Some are still human enough to realize that our cats are beloved family members, not "pets" or "things" to be discarded!
post #14 of 26
Thread Starter 
I'd like to thank everyone for your support. I don't know many "cat people" personally. Everyone tells me that my cats are burdening me more than benefiting me, but I just can't give up those little buggers...

But I am happy to report that VICTORY is mine

After writing a long two-page letter (with your suggestions included), I think my point came clear across that they were being very unfair.

They agreed to not charge me the "unpaid rent" and the additional $50 per month. I still had to pay the $200 security deposit but I think that is justified and I didn't argue it. I just hope I will be seeing a lot of that money back as my cats have not caused any damage (so far...)

I'm just so glad this fiasco is over. I was utterly stressed out over this!
post #15 of 26
That's good news! Some agencies will try and walk all over you and they often get away with it because people are afraid to speak up.
post #16 of 26
I'm glad you got everything figured out.

We had to pay 2 pet deposits--1 refundable, 1 nonrefundable. Plus we pay a monthly pet rent of $25. This is actually pretty normal for renting with pets. Of course I would prefer 1 pet deposit and no pet rent.
post #17 of 26
Glad it worked out for you. That was ridiculous trying to charge you that. At least you're allowed to keep your kitties in your place; when I used to rent pets were always a no-no.
post #18 of 26
I had to pay a $200 non-refundable deposit when I moved in and I pay an extra $10 per month for Riley. If I get a second cat, it would be another $200 and another $10 per month. When I was apartment hunting this past spring, most places did not allow pets at all, and the ones that do all charge a non-refundable deposit and monthly "pet rent". Most were higher than what I pay now.

It sucks.
post #19 of 26
Here, it's a $300 non-refundable deposit per pet, plus $20/month for each pet in pet rent. That means I had to fork over $600 I'll never see again to get my two kitties (and another almost $500 over the year lease - adds up to a lot of vet visits). The people down the hall with the screaming kids who can't seem to leave the apartment without making some sort of scene didn't have to pay an extra cent to have those little terrors here (it's illegal). I wouldn't have a problem if the deposit was refundable. My carpet, walls, etc. are all undamaged, and I keep the place clean and odor-free. It will be like that when I vacate.

I can certainly understand landlords wanting extra deposits, but I think nonrefundable deposits should be illegal. Increase the pet rent and be above aboard about what you're doing.
post #20 of 26
Yeah, look into some sort of legal movement...despite the ownership of the property, the terms of you loan should not be changed. Rent cost changes DURING a lease are illegal. If it's the beginning of a new lease/year and it is changing, I suggest moving unless there is not a better place.) Hopefully you can get it all straightened out. Best of luck!
post #21 of 26
I'm happy to hear that you were able to work out it.
post #22 of 26
Nonrefundable fees and monthly additions to rent are very common when renting. When DH and I were looking for a place to live after we got married, a bit issue was their pet policy (DH was so sweet about it too). The policies at several really nice places made us look elsewhere.

Also, always get agreements in writing. I had to ask our previous manager to add an addendum to my rental agreement stating that the policy of having cats declawed was waived because I had sufficient scratching areas. lol I marched down to the office, pale and scared, and just flat out said I was against declawing and that we needed to talk. lol

They were really great about it though.
post #23 of 26
When i lived in an apartment, I had to pay the 150.00 deposit for each pet and each month they would tack on "pet rent" to my regular monthly rent...pet rent was 25.00. I dont know if thats per pet b/c i only had one cat at the time. I'm glad that you got the issue resolved!!! YIPPE
post #24 of 26
Yeah - that the OP got her resolution!

Just adding into the mix: Very common where I live when I called around. The norm was $150 non-refundable pet deposit + $30 a mn extra rent per pet.

Good point on kids not requiring extra deposit and rent but cats do ?
post #25 of 26
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by JenC511 View Post
The people down the hall with the screaming kids who can't seem to leave the apartment without making some sort of scene didn't have to pay an extra cent to have those little terrors here (it's illegal).
Same situation here! In my building, there are a group of little kids who play together everyday. I'm sorry, but they are the most annoying little bunch of miscreants. They would mess around the elevator by pushing all the buttons and chase each other down the stairs, etc. One time my bf and I were waiting downstairs for the elevator to come down. We were waiting forever until we finally realized that those darn kids were playing around with it and we had to take the stairs.

My cats are just quiet little things who sleep all day and they tried to charge me over $500??? Hell no.
post #26 of 26
Nonrefundable fees are fine, IMO, for costs one can reasonably expect to incur. I would expect to fork over a flat fee for move-out expenses (cleaning, etc.), but I just resent the idea of a "deposit" that is nonrefundable, but supposed to cover damages that may or may not occur. I'd gladly pay twice that deposit if it were refundable based on the damages that actually occured. It just strikes me as an unscrupulous way of getting money out of responsible pet owners who will declare their pets, pay the fee, and by virtue of being responsible pet owners, have pets that are more likely to be well cared for/trained and less likely to damage anything.

I'm just of the opinion that deposits should be collected to cover the costs of possible damages. If you want people to pay a lot more to keep pets on the property, increase the pet rent, so they're paying for the time they actually have the pets. In the unlikely event that both my cats died tomorrow, I'm out $600 for less than one month's occupancy by the cats. I'm not saying they aren't within their rights to do it, but I don't agree with it. Luckily (for them), I live in a very expensive area, they have tons of closet space, gas stoves, and they do at least accept pets. I weighed my options and chose the lesser of two evils. It still doesn't make the practice "right".

This is not to say that I hate my apartment or have some sort of combative relationship with the leasing office. It just grates on my nerves when I sit down to think about it or read this thread.
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