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Why do you charge pet fees? - Landlord Forum thread 150009

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Why do you charge pet fees? by Monica (Oh) on January 18, 2008 @01:29

Please state your reason(s)for charging pet fees. I was in court today, sueing the tenants for unpaid rent and pet fees,damages,cleaning and replacing the (only one year old) carpet through out the house. There Lawyer repeatedly asked me "why do you charge pet fees"? I responded with "For the privledge of having their pets live in my rental dwellings, it's pet rent". He didn't like that answer, so he asked again and added "Do you charge these fees to cover damages"? Because I am suing for the cost to replace the carpet he is looking for just cause to get the pet fees dropped (for damages). I already figure that I wont be awarded the pet fees. However, that lawyer was trying like heck to get me to say it's to cover any damages caused by them. After the third time of the same question, I referred to my pet policy in my lease and began reading it. Into the third sentance, the magistrate stopped me - I don't recall what she said to me. But from the moment my son and I walked into that room, that magistrate had it in for me. She was obnoxious,rude and belitteling. She was clearly discriminating against me. I am not the same color as she or the tenants lawyer is. Later, the other witnesses were allowed in the room, so my husband came in and that lawyer was pulling the same questions to my husband regarding the pet fees, repeatedly asking them and asked"Are these fees to cover pet damages"? "I said "Objection, leading the witness" that magistrate threatend to kick me out of the room. Representing myself in a case, do I have the right to object? My other question in this whole matter is. Are there any recourses or action I can take against this magistrate for her behaviour and her treatment of me? She really has no business being a magistrate. The final straw was when she cut me off and accused me of being disrespectful when I was reading the section on the pet policy in answer to the lawyers repeated questions. I said No, I am not being disrespectful, YOU are disrespectful towards me and he (pointing to their lawyer)is disrespectful towards me, I feel you are discriminating against me because I am **** (color of my skin). Just wondering what your thoughts are on this,and what course of action I can take against this magistrate for discriminating against me?
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Re: Why do you charge pet fees? by Terry (ca) on January 18, 2008 @02:27 [ Reply ] it or not when you are is always best to be extremely respectful even if you HATE what is coming from the person running the case.

And quite frankly I don't believe in pet FEES either. To say it's rent for pet..then what happens when a pet dies? Do you refund the fees/reduce the rent? It's illegal in CA but even if it wasn't I would never charge a fixed pet FEE or pet RENT. I would simply increase the security deposit to accomodate the extra risk of damage to my property.

BUT in states where security deposit is limited by law to only one month's worth...I MIGHT consider a fee - depends on the state.

Sorry I think you should NOT take ANY action and I think you lost yourself the case based on your behavior.

This is why going to court to OBSERVE way ahead of your case in a good see what ticks off that particular judge/magistrate, etc. So that you can be most effective.

Sounds like you really had no solid answer (as it is hard to find one..priviledge of having a pet rarely works in court). Also you should only have claimed depreciated value (remaining useful life) for carpet replacement and of course have samples, etc. for them to evaluate.

Re: Why do you charge pet fees? by CA (HI) on January 18, 2008 @03:45 [ Reply ]
I think this is a good question about justifying the pet fee. Our state limits the amount of sec deposit to equal one month's rent. I think that is why it is rare for a landlord to allow pets out here, but those who do have a much easier time keeping the place rented. I've seen some of them charge a pet fee.

The only way I can think of to justify is if utilities are included. maybe it's possible to justify a pet fee as to cover the small increase of utilities. Another way to see it is sometimes if there is more than x number of people, many times the rent is increased to accommodate the extra energy the extra persons will draw.

Or just increase the entire rent and say you accept pets (but don't differentiate between rents).

I'm interested to know what others think.

Re: Why do you charge pet fees? by Wallace CPM (VA) on January 18, 2008 @07:53 [ Reply ]
This is JUST the reason NOT to charge "pet rent" as it assumes it pays for NORMAL WEAR AND TEAR of a PET.

Stop doing it and increase your security deposit to cover PET DAMAGE to your unit which is what you are attempting to do with the rent.

Re: Why do you charge pet fees? by Phillip in WNY (NY) on January 18, 2008 @09:30 [ Reply ]
I have a few minor responses to your question. Personally, I do not charge separate pet rent, but may increase overall rent in order to cover a pet. I would not identify a specific part of the rent as allocated to the pet, just in case what you discussed happens.

If you are looking for justification, I would state that pets can cause a different type of wear and tear, damage of which is beyond normal animal wear and tear. If there are minor scuff marks from a dog, or possibly excessive dog hair that may need additional attention, I could see that as normal wear and tear. If there are numerous urine stains, or clawed up doors, walls, or window sills, then I would consider those items damage. The pet rent is to compensate you from normal wear and tear that a pet will make that a human will not.

Re: Why do you charge pet fees? by xxx on January 18, 2008 @10:11 [ Reply ]
1) don't lose your temper with the judge, it is a really bad idea, especially if you play the race card

2) because you lost your temper, you will lose this case, but in the future don't charge "pet fees", just have one rent amount for tenants with pets, and one rent amount for tenants without pets. That way the lease will only say $xxx rent. If a non-pet owner (paying the lower rent) moves in a pet, then evict them.

3) all my rentals are strictly no pets, its not worth the hassle

4) the tenant kind of has a point, you are trying to charge both damages and pet fees on top of damages, so it looks like you are trying to double up with the damages

My last ditch argument would be this: "The tenant signed a contract where they agreed to pay $xxx/month to have a pet on the premises. The tenant is over 18, and not legally insane, so can enter into a contract and be bound by its terms. I am asking the court to enforce that contract. I do not charge these fees to cover damages, but for the same reason I charge rent: to pay my mortgage, property taxes, and other building expenses. Since many other buildings to not accept pets at all, I can make more money by accepting pets and charging an extra fee. The tenant fully understood this when they signed a contract agreeing to pay pet fees if a pet were present in the apartment."

Re: Why do you charge pet fees? by Anonumous on January 18, 2008 @11:26 [ Reply ]
As the saying goes "don't play a doctor if you are not one", and to para phrase "don't play a lawyer if you are not one". Having said this no matter however tempting it may be one should not loose their cool when faced with a judge or for that matter a police. It helps to be defensive to make our point heard. As an example if a speeding ticket is contested and a judge asks were you speeding and if the answer is "no" the case is lost. On the other hand if the answer is something like "I am not so sure" or "I might have gone slightly above because of certain circumstances prevailed at that time" there may be some chance for the case to be dismissed. This example I learned watching 'court shows'. Any way this is besides the point you are asking but I thought I will throw in my five cents. Your narrative indicates you needed a lawyer.
Regarding the pet fee as the earlier posts said it is better to slightly increase the rent to account for any damages and if no damage to the property good for you. I allow pets to fill the place. In one case even with NO PET policy I found a cat and only thing I could do was to take extra deposit as I ddin't want to go through the eviction process and loose more money.
Re: Why do you charge pet fees? by Monica (Oh) on January 18, 2008 @11:42 [ Reply ]
When a tenant no longer has the pet, then yes, the pet rent drops. So a magistrate can discriminate and have the ability to make her ruleing if you don't kiss her butt after her continous verbal abuse? I wont show respect if respect is not given. If I were to treat my kids the way she treated me, Childrens services would have been called to my home for verbal and emotional abuse.
what do you think she would have said or done if my cell phone went off and I answered it and began talking in the middle of court? That's right, that lawyer did it and got away with it. Did I have a right to object to his question when I said "Objection, leading the witness" as I was representing myself in this case, or was I out of line?
Re: Why do you charge pet fees? by xxx on January 18, 2008 @13:08 [ Reply ]
"So a magistrate can discriminate and have the ability to make her ruleing if you don't kiss her butt after her continous verbal abuse?"

That's exactly correct.

Re: Why do you charge pet fees? by Anonymous (NYlandlord) on January 18, 2008 @13:20 [ Reply ]
Generally, we do not accept pets in our carpeted rentals. We consider non-barking pets on a case-by-case basis in rentals that are tile and hardwood. (For the record, we love dogs and also appreciate cats and other animals). When the market is favorable, we do not accept pets at all to minimize all potential damages. When the market is less favorable, we consider qualified tenants with pets (as mentioned) on a case-by-case basis. We do not advertise a pet acceptance policy, but when asked we advise that added security is required.

The monthly pet fees can be justified because pets do utilize utilities. When the tenants are at work, the pet(s) require heat. When the pet(s) need to be bathed they require hot water. Pets also drink water and use other utilities paid for by the landlord. So, unless the pet does not require heat or water, then the added pet fee is justifiable.

We request a separate pet deposit of about $450-$500 per pet. Most irresponsible pet tenants will not be willing to provide the pet deposit. We actually had/have a qualified pet tenant with two cats. In order to be fair to all the applicants and level the playing field, we did request an extra $25 per month (no deposit) for each pet. These tenants were willing to pay the additional $50.00 per month for their two cats which made their application slightly more appealing. It meant that more than likely these tenants were responsible pet owners.

In the end, inevitably, there will be certain damages due to pets. In the case of dogs, it is the noise (barking) complaints. In the case of cats, it is the scratching of carpet, walls, floors, doors, etc. All pets pose a potential hazard to millions of people who are allergic to animals (dandruff, fur, etc.). Certain people are very sensitive and can simply walk into a room and have a reaction to the former pet. This means that the entire apartment would need to be thoroughly cleaned, deodorized, sanitized, sterilized and, possibly, fumigated.

Any pet can have an accident (urinate) on the floor. Any pet owner can become comfortable and not walk the dog or change the litter. In these cases, the owners will be left to reconcile the pet damages.

As far as the attorney, the judge, and the question of pet damages, just let them know that all additional occupants that dwell in an apartment or house require use of utilities. Any utilities paid for by the landlord are taken into consider on a per person, per pet, per living being basis. People, children, pets, and the like, all use heat and water. If the landlord pays for the heat and water, then each individual living being has to be accountable for the use. THATíS MY STORY AND IíM STICKING TO IT!

Re: Why do you charge pet fees? by Lighthope on January 18, 2008 @14:26 [ Reply ]
> Just wondering what your thoughts are on this,and what
> course of action I can take against this magistrate for
> discriminating against me?

All you can do is appeal. (Good luck!)

It does sound like the judge was discriminating against you. Assuming everything you said was accurate, the judge certainly did not follow the law or procedure. You didn't need to keep answering the same question from the attorney. ("Objection. Asked and answered.") However, he wasn't leading your husband by asking if the fees were to cover pet damage. But the fact that he kept asking the same question would lead to "Objection. Council is badgering the witness."

Some judges don't like pro se people. They feel you aren't worthy to represent yourself. So they have it in for you. I don't know about the colour of your skin. Playing the race card was a very bad idea. Mouthing off to the judge was also a bad idea.

Plan for an appeal if you want to fight it. I would. But I do things on principle regardless of cost. Opposing lawyers hate me. I have no problem reporting their behaviour to the state bar. You may even be able to do that to the judge, but be prepared for horrible consequences should your claim be found unfounded (very likely). Judges talk to each other, you know.


Pearls of Wisdom - Can you repeat the part after "Listen very carefully?"

Re: Why do you charge pet fees? by Anonymous on January 18, 2008 @14:53 [ Reply ]
I've observed many landlord/tenant cases under different judges. Consistently, the judges treated the attorneys with far more respect than the plaintiffs and defendants. Let them badger and lead the witnesses, just as you described. Even let them have continuances for being unprepared. On the other hand the litigants who represented themselves were constantly cut short, berated, belittled, and denied continuances if they were unprepared. Cell phones were taken from non-attorneys while attorneys were just told "you know better. put it away".

Judges and attorneys are in a comradeship and don't like outsiders playing their game.

Re: Why do you charge pet fees? by Geoff (NY) on January 18, 2008 @20:23 [ Reply ]
Here is at least one valid reason: "For the increase of potential financial liability from the presence of the animal, and you don't vary the fee based upon the specific dog because you don't wish to be put in a position of discrimniating between any actual specific dogs, Although you reserve the right to prohibit any animal for reasons of safety"
Re: Why do you charge pet fees? by DA (Texas) on June 20, 2013 @19:01 [ Reply ]
When representing yourself you should always be respectful to the court at all times. You should do a little home work before hand to gain an understanding of the judicial cannons that a judge is required to follow. By simply responding calmly and respectfully like asking the judge "how this supports and gains public trust" should indicate to the Judge that you know the judicial code of conduct and might give you a fare shake against a lawyer. Of course this will always depend on how well you've organized your case. Evidence should speak for its self. Pet rent could easily be called "boarding" the pet just like your local vet. Though you are providing rent to people, you are also "boarding" a pet. Pets are not people and people are not pets. I'm currently developing our pet policy and this dialog was helpful.
Re: Why do you charge pet fees? by Versiera (Indiana) on September 26, 2013 @22:42 [ Reply ]
Why do you charge pet fees? The answer is no reason. Just to get more money out of tenants. There is no other reason. You can make up as many excuses as you want but the truth is you just want the money. A refundable deposit is in order as it makes sense. Any other fee is just outrageous and should be illegal. It is like charging a person 50$ more per month if they get a child. A clause in a lease is pointless if from the beginning you are on the abusing end. That is what the judge and the lawyer tried to tell you and you kept reading the lease. It's good to know there is still people who defend abuse and have common sense.

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