Notes from the Legal Hotline: Can a landlord charge a tenant a monthly pet rent?

The lawyers at the MAR legal hotline noted that new case law might be relevant for REALTORS.  A landlord may charge a tenant a monthly pet rent? According to a recent Massachusetts Appeals Court ruling in Phoebe Flemming vs. Greystar Management Services, L.P., charging a tenant a recurring, monthly rent for the ability to keep a pet in a rental property is not a violation of the security deposit statute (Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 18, Section 15B). Under the law, landlords are prohibited from collecting monies in excess of first month’s rent, last month’s rent, a security deposit not to exceed the first’s month’s rent, and a fee to change the lock and key at or prior to the commencement of a tenancy. In this case the “pet rent” was collected on a recurring, monthly basis, and therefore not a violation of section 15B(1)(b).

The court additionally analyzed the applicability of section (1)(d), which prohibits a landlord from collecting rent in advance or a security deposit in excess of one month’s rent. The court opined that Section 15B)1)(b) and (d) must be applied individually and, as such, “pet rent” is not considered rent paid in advance or an additional security deposit, and therefore is not a violation of the security deposit statute.

This is a ruling of the Appeals Court and therefore the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court may weigh in on the case if it so chooses.


Written by: Justin Davidson, General Counsel; Catherine Taylor, Associate Counsel; and Jonathan Schreiber, Legislative & Regulatory Counsel.

Services provided through the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice, nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship. The Massachusetts Association of REALTORS®, by providing this service, assumes no actual or implied responsibility for any improper use of responses to questions through this service.  The Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® will not be legally responsible for any potential misrepresentations or errors made by providing this service. For more information regarding these topics authorized callers should contact the MAR legal hotline at 800-370-5342 or e-mail at