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Forge Your Wealth is meant for education and entertainment and should not be considered financial advice.
The Coronavirus pandemic has made many Americans turn to pets for companionship with New York and Los Angelos reporting 70% increase in adoptions and many animal shelters running out of adoptable pets. Unfortunately, I believe there are two reasons this has happened, and none are for the benefit of people staying at home. I believe this was to decrease the overhead of housing these pets and in anticipation of needing room for pets. Many shelters are seeing increases of abandoned pets from people dying of the virus and animal shelters around my old hometown are already seeing the increase of pet abandonment due to a loss of income, or the fear of it. In fact, the article I have linked gives contact information for people who need help paying for food for their animals if you need assistance.
While people see pets as good companions, pets are also a large liability. Might as well get that out of the way, people are going to hate me for this post. I know my cat-loving editor will as well. Please do note, I actually love pets (although I do/can not own one). I will actually write a post about the benefits of having a pet in the future to make up for this post.
I could write about how much the feed, toys, medicine, etc. for your pets cost. However, there are already many posts about these types of costs. Instead, I will address how much pets will cost that no one brings up, and that are well hidden.
Pets Are Additional Tenants
Believe it or not, many landlords can charge additional rent or a deposit if you have an additional tenant. Landlords do not want their apartments to become overcrowded or noisy. Plus, there are fire hazards with too many people. Besides, I cannot imagine 3 people living in 300 square feet, much less 5 or more and I know many are familiar with that overcrowded living conditions.
However, there are laws saying that you can have two tenants per bedroom plus one tenant. For instance, if you are renting a 4 bedroom residence, you can generally have 9 tenants (4 bedrooms X 2 tenants/bedroom + 1 tenant). Now what about a pet? It does not matter how many bedrooms you have, in most rentals adding a single furry pet requires additional costs. Deposits, fees, and additional rent could easily add an additional several hundred to over $1,000 annually.
Pet-Friendly Apartments Just Cost More
It seems like landlords can add several different words to their rental to make it more costly. One of the most infamous is “luxury.” However, the other word that will raise the price of a rental is the word “pet-friendly.” That word alone will increase your rent significantly. In fact, landlords commonly increase rent by 20-30% with the word pet-friendly. Keep in mind, the median rent in the US is $1,012/month. That will be a couple thousand extra in rent each year.
It is worth mentioning that luxury apartments tend to be pet-friendly in my experience. The additional price of rent may be related.
Pets Make Your Housing Less Appealing
Sure the previous two reasons impact renters, but what about home owners? After all, homeowners do not need to worry about additional rent or mortgage providers to care about the property to care about pet ownership. Actually, homeowners probably see much pets cost more than renters. Owning pets can easily reduce the value of your home by $20,000 – $30,000, maybe even more. Keep in mind, the post refers to a condo which had good upkeep. Considering many people believe their homes are investments (mistakenly), that should mean that you are a terrible investor if you buy a house and have a pet enter it. After all, the median value of a US house is a little over $200,000 and a pet could lower value by 10-15% instantly. That is comparable to the loss of value when buying a new car.
There are many reasons for this. There are brown spots in lawns and in the house caused by pet urine, scratch marks, and unappealing smells. Keep in mind, my grandfather was a contractor who had to pull out too many feces and urine soaked floor boards. He said, if you care at all about the value of your home, you will not own a pet.
There is another very good reason for the lowering of value. Pet dandruff. Pet allergies are very common. Not only do allergies cause discomfort, but they can even kill people. Having a pet can instantly cut out a large demographic as potential buyers lowering the price of your home. There are also fleas and other parasites to keep in mind.
Owning a pet has its benefits. I will go into those in a later post. However, pets cost people a significant amount of money. The hidden costs alone are comparable to the cost of giving birth to a child. The question is, are you willing to pay that price?
In my experience, people do not plan for these costs. If that was not the case, I would not see many people complain about how the lack of affordable housing is holding them back on YouTube while their cat and/or dog walks across their lap as they make their videos. Their pets have increased their expenses by almost 50% each year. Keep in mind I am considering the 30% extra in rent for the word “pet-friendly,” and the additional housing fees. I did not include everything you buy for your pet. There are trade offs if you want more affordable housing, and frankly, your pet should be the first thing you should question if you should keep around on your path to forge your wealth. More importantly, if you are in a financial pinch, you should not have a pet.