Pets at school can add expenses, limit housing

When heading off to school, it’s hard to leave behind the comforts of home. Students may miss a family pet living at home during the school year.

To ease these feelings, some students choose to keep a pet in in their apartment at school.

Megan Pfeffer, a recent graduate from the University, will be moving in to a pet-friendly unit in Champaign with her dog.

When she moves in to her new apartment, she will have to pay a pet deposit every month.

Many realtors require pet deposits, which can vary by landlord. Pet-friendly apartments can often be more expensive because of this payment.

“As long as your pet doesn’t tear everything up, you get (the money) back,” Pfeffer said.

According to Esther Patt, coordinator of the Tenant Union, the most common type of pet deposit is refundable, “but a landlord will charge for cleaning and deodorizing the carpet, and spraying for fleas.”

There are also some landlords who charge a higher rent as well as a pet deposit or may ask for one pet deposit per animal, she said.

Patt believes it is important for tenants to know what any deposit entails, whether it be general or for a pet.

“If you are paying a $300 non-refundable (pet) deposit, you are not going to want to have the cost of flea spraying and deoderizing the carpet taken from your regular deposit,” Patt said.

Many pet-friendly apartments do not come without limits.

“A lot of landlords off campus will allow cats and ferrets but not dogs because they bark,” Patt said.

Even units that allow dogs are specific about the type of breed. Ramshaw Real Estate does not allow German shepherds or pitbulls in its pet-friendly units. The size of the dog is also an important issue.

“Usually dogs have a weight limit of 35 pounds or less,” said Carolyn Crawford, leasing coordinator for Ramshaw.

There are also strict consequences for students who allow a pets in their apartment but do not live in a pet-friendly unit. Students can be evicted whether or not they own the animal.

If a unit is not deemed pet-friendly, the tenant is held responsible when a pet is found in their apartment.

“Just about every lease says no pets without the landlord’s written consent,” Patt said. “The big way we see students hurt the most is when they violate the no-pet clause. (It is reflected) in the deposit when they move out,” Patt said.

According to Crawford, Ramshaw gives residents a written notice that they are in violation of their lease.

They are charged $50 for each day the pet remains in the unit.

Patt believes students who do not already have a furry friend should not seek one out during their time at the University.

“If you don’t already have a pet, don’t get (one) while you are a student because even a hamster or a ferret, and especially a cat, limit your choice of housing,” Patt said.