Can my landlord charge me a pet deposit after I have already moved in with pets?

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Can my landlord charge me a pet deposit after I have already moved in with pets?

When we moved in they did the minimum for us to move in; they didn’t even have the carpets professionally cleaned and the tenant before us had a pitbull that peed everywhere. They just had my mother-in-law, who is also a tenant, do it. When I moved in I already had a dog but they said do not worry about a pet deposit. I have since gotten rid of my dog and got 2 cats and they still didn’t ask for a deposit. I now want to get another dog and they saying that I have to pay $400 to have a dog and it is not refundable. Is there any way to fight this?

Asked on June 21, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

During the middle of a lease term, the landlord may not change the rules regarding pets or increase the fees or deposits you have to pay. So while a lease is in force, unless the lease itself provides for a pet deposit, etc., the landlord can't charge it.

When a lease is up, the landlord may make changes to it before a new lease is signed; so on renewal, the landlord could require a pet deposit going forward. If you don't have a written lease, you are a month to month tenant, which means that the landlord may change the terms or require a pet deposit on one month's notice, but again, only going forward--not for the time prior to the change being made.


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