California Pet Laws for Renters and Guidance for Landlords

Welcome to California, a pet-friendly paradise where renters and their furry friends can find a happy home together! Whether you have a purring cat or a playful pup, California’s laws and regulations ensure a harmonious coexistence between renters and their beloved pets. In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of California’s pet-friendly laws, covering pet deposits, fees, and other essential considerations. So, let’s dive in and discover how you and your four-legged companion can navigate the renting landscape with confidence. California pet attorney James Arrasmith helps pet owners and landlords understand their rights and responsibilities.

What is “Pet Rent”?

Pet rent is an additional fee that property management companies or landlords may charge tenants with pets. This fee can vary depending on the property and management policies. If you’re looking for a pet-friendly rental, it’s a good idea to shop around and find a property with a flexible pet policy that suits your needs.

State Laws on Pet Deposits for Furnished Units

California has specific laws regarding pet deposits, especially in furnished rental units. According to the California Civil Code Section 1950.5, landlords can charge a pet deposit for tenants with pets. For unfurnished units, the maximum pet deposit is capped at two months’ rent.

For furnished units, however, there is no specific maximum limit. Instead, landlords and tenants can negotiate a reasonable pet deposit amount. It’s crucial for landlords to clearly outline the pet deposit terms in the rental agreement, including the amount, purpose, and conditions for its return. Additionally, landlords must provide an itemized statement within 21 days after the tenant moves out, detailing any deductions made from the pet deposit. Importantly, deductions can only be made for actual pet-related damages, not normal wear and tear.

Property, Rent, and Additional Wear and Tear: What You Need to Know About Pet-Related Damages

Renting with pets can bring up concerns about potential damages and the responsibility for repairs. Understanding the laws and regulations around pet-related damages is essential for both tenants and landlords.

Pet-Related Damages vs. Normal Wear and Tear

Pets can cause wear and tear on a rental property, such as scratches on floors, carpet stains, or chewed furniture. It’s important to distinguish between normal wear and tear, which is expected and doesn’t require reimbursement, and pet-related damages, which may incur additional charges.

Tenant’s Responsibility

As a tenant, it’s your responsibility to ensure your pets don’t cause excessive damage. This includes addressing behavioral issues and promptly cleaning up messes. Failure to do so may result in the landlord withholding part or all of your pet deposit to cover necessary repairs.

Landlord’s Rights and Obligations

Landlords have the right to charge pet rent and a pet deposit to mitigate potential damages. However, they must follow local and state guidelines. In California, the pet deposit for unfurnished units is typically limited to two months’ rent. For furnished units, the deposit amount is negotiated between the landlord and tenant. If repairs are needed due to pet-related damages, landlords must provide an itemized statement of deductions within the specified timeframe.

Repair Process and Dispute Resolution

If pet-related damages occur, the repair process should be handled promptly. Landlords are responsible for coordinating repairs and restoring the property. Tenants should report damages as soon as possible to facilitate repairs. Communication is key; if disputes arise over repair costs or deposit deductions, mediation or legal action might be necessary to resolve the issue.


Understanding the rights, responsibilities, and processes related to pet-related damages in rental units is vital for both tenants and landlords. By preventing excessive damages, reporting issues promptly, and maintaining open communication, both parties can enjoy a smooth rental experience while protecting their interests and complying with the law. So, go ahead and find that perfect pet-friendly rental in California, knowing you and your furry friend are well-protected!

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