Pets are part of the family and the owners will not let them go. As such, there is no logical way around charging tenants a non-refundable pet fee. Even the best, most well-behaved pets cause damage. They tear up wood, landscaping, cause carpet damage, scratch at doors and screens, have accidents, or leave fur in the carpets, duct work and more, thus, the landlord should be compensated. Conversely, without the pet fee, the landowner will lose money in the long run. Not only should there be a non-refundable pet fee, but the tenant should be responsible for bringing the property back up to it’s previous standard (install this into the lease).
On another note, landlords still have rights around tenants who have emotional support animals and other therapy pets. Please reach out to me so we can chat and I can support you in protecting your properties.