Soaring “Pet Rent,” Other Fees, Take Toll on Southern California Apartment Dwellers

The growing trend of "pet rent" is making the dream of dog or cat ownership impossible for many Southern California animal lovers.

"I can’t even foster," model and actress Sanelly Quintero told I-Team Consumer Investigator Randy Mac.

As she played with the dogs up for adoption at Lucky Puppy Rescue & Retail Boutique in Studio City, Quintero complained that the costs associated with having a pet in her apartment building are simply too steep.

"The deposit is $250, and the monthly rent is $50."

 And the numbers vary among buildings; the I-Team got hold of a lease agreement for a rental unit in Encino requiring a $5000 pet deposit, along with a $25 monthly “pet rent” fee.

Lucky Puppy assistant manager Alice Ensor told Mac that charges like these are resulting in a decline in pet adoptions. Ensor and other animal rights advocates fear that decrease could lead to more dogs and cats being euthanized in shelters.

"It’s sad because these animals could use that love and that safe place to be."

Ashton Derakhshan, owner of Iconic Real Estate of Woodland Hills, specializes in finding pet owners the perfect rental property. He says the concept of pet rent is gaining popularity among landlords because deposits often prove insufficient in covering damage caused by animals.

"It’s not the pet’s fault," he told Mac. "It’s the pet owner’s fault."

Ashton says some properties offer services that merit an added monthly rental, including dog walking and day care. But others are charging the fee despite offering no additional benefits.

Magda Madrigal, an attorney with the Eviction Defense Network, says in some cases, it’s not fair.

"Some people [who] have come into our office are being charged a $200 monthly pet deposit almost [as if the animal were] an additional occupant, and that is unreasonable," she said.

A survey conducted by real estate website found pet rent and other fees differ by neighborhood. The site’s research found the pet-friendliest zip code is 90401, which covers part of Santa Monica.

The least-pet-friendly zip code, according to the findings, is 90067, which includes Century City.

To see how L.A. neighborhoods compare, you can see the Hotpads' map:

Mobile users can click here to view the map.

If you have a tip on this story — or anything else — the I-Team wants to hear from you. Give us a call at 818-520-TIPS or email nbc4iteam@nbcuni.

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