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Need advice on apartment pet fee requested for Virginia apartments.

Fairfax, VA |

I'm apartment shopping, and it's standard in this area for landlords to ask for a $300 to $500 non-refundable pet fee in addition to pet rent of $25 to $45 per month, and/or (refundable) pet deposit. Considering I have two well-behaved cats with references from past landlords, I expect no damages to have been incurred by the time I leave and don't understand why a pet deposit doesn't suffice, especially when in addition to pet rent. It's my understanding this fee actually generally does NOT cover damage. Is this fee legal? And do I sign away my rights to recoup this in small claims court when I leave if I sign the contract and pay the fee? What can I do to avoid paying the fee, or at least preserve my rights to try to recover it in small claims court after the lease is over? Thanks.

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Attorney answers 1


Yes, pet deposits and pet rent are legal. Whether or not you will recover any of the additional deposit (the "regular" deposit) upon move out, I can't say. If the pet deposit is non-refundable, then it's non-refundable and you'd be out of luck in small claims court as to that amount.