Most pet owners consider their pet as family, and won’t even consider an apartment that would require them to give their beloved animal up. When you think about how many potential tenants are looking for a rental property that will accept pets, it may be worth your while to welcome furry, four-legged creatures. On the other hand, you may be concerned about pet damage to your rental property.
As with any decision in the rental business, there are pros and cons to your choices. We’ve outlined these below, along with information on how to screen a tenant with pets and some tips for allowing pets in rental properties.
Take a look at our guide on whether or not you should allow pets in your rental property and use the information to determine which stance towards pets is the best for your rental business.
Pros to allowing pets in rental properties
There are several positives to establishing a pet-friendly property:
1. Higher rent
Market value determines the amount you can set your rent. By allowing pets in rentals (large dogs in particular) especially when very few properties in your neighborhood are pet-friendly, you may be able to command a higher rent. At the very least, it could give you a leg up on the competition if a decision comes down to your property and a similar one which doesn’t allow pets.
The more a tenant considers an abode their home, the more likely they are to renew a lease. Certainly, settling in with a pet can make a rental feel like a permanent residence. Additionally, The Balance points out that it can be harder for pet owners to find alternate dwellings that will take both them and their pet.
3. Larger pool of applicants
Pet ownership in the United States is at an all-time high. According to the 2017-2018 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, 68% of U.S. households own a pet. If your rental property is marketed towards a younger market, there’s an even higher likelihood that a pet is part of the package. Zillow reports that over 76% of millennial renters own pets. Allowing pets attracts more tenants to your property and gives you more tenants to choose from, so you can find the best fit.
4.Responsible pet owners are more likely to be responsible tenants
Rentalutions points out that taking care of a pet requires a lot of time and attention, and there’s a likelihood that behavior will translate into renters treating your property with the same amount of respect and energy.
Cons to allowing pets on your property
Allowing pets on your property can pose risks, although some of these can be reduced. Here are a few concerns that may arise:
1. Pet Damage
There are certain behaviors that landlords associate with pets and property damage, including urinating on carpets, chewing wood, leaving “calling cards” in public spaces and destroying landscaping.
Excessive barking can be disruptive to neighbors, and it can be hard to keep noise levels at manageable levels when there are multiple dogs, cats, and birds on the property.
If litter boxes aren’t cleaned or pet accidents occur in the hallway, offensive odors can build up in common areas. Animals that aren’t properly groomed or bathed can cause other odors inside the unit.
4. Injuries to Other Tenants
There is a physical injuries to neighbors and yourself.You may want to consider requiring pet owners to hold adequate renters insurance. NerdWallet states that renters insurance may potentially provide coverage against dog bites on the property.
How to screen tenants with pets
Whether or not you want to approve the owner should be your first consideration, and their pet second. A thorough online tenant screening is your first step to determining if a tenant is a good fit for your property, and may help you answer questions about their responsibility as a pet owner. Along with checking a prospective tenant’s credit, criminal, and eviction history, checking references is always a good idea. A reference check can also help you determine whether there has been trouble with their pets in the past.
The Massachusetts Animal Coalition recommends meeting the pet along with the tenant in order to assess whether the applicant is a responsible pet owner. Rather than simply limiting certain pets based on weight or breed, they suggest basing your decision on a case-by-case basis.
You’ll want to see for yourself if the animal is well-groomed and well-behaved. In the case of a dog, you’ll be able to note if they are calm and responsive to the owner’s commands.
Some questions you may want to ask:
- Is the pet left alone for long periods of time?
- What type of regular exercise does your pet get?
- Are they spayed or neutered?
- Who looks after the pet when you are away?
- Has your dog had any obedience training?
- Is your pet properly licensed?
- How do you control fleas?
While there are generally no right or wrong answers to this line of questioning, it can tell you if the owner is responsible and reasonable when it comes to their pet.
Rental Pet Policy Tips
If you’re concerned about damage to your property, it would be wise to include a pet policy and address pets in the lease. You should provide all tenants, including those without animals, with a copy of your pet policy. A tenant may decide to get a pet later, and it’s important they are clear on your expectations and provisions up front.
Nolo advises you to only allow pets you approve beforehand, and to make it clear that you reserve the right to ask the tenant to remove the pet if they don’t comply with your policies. You may want to change the policy later on, so it’s a good idea to state clearly that you have the right to amend the rules by giving tenants reasonable notice.
Another option to mitigate risk is to charge pet fees that will cover potential damages or pay for professional carpet and air duct cleaning so that you don’t lose future tenants (some of which may have allergies). Bankrate points out that tenants are more motivated to prevent pet-related damage if the fee is refundable. You’ll also want to check your state and local housing laws to see whether you can add an additional pet deposit and how much you are allowed to collect.
How to avoid potential pet damages
According to the San Francisco SPCA, there are a few guidelines to consider when setting up your pet policies. The first, which we’ve already mentioned, is to make sure your policies are in writing.
Careful tenant screening of each applicant is your best bet at successfully handling pets on your property. Finding a good tenant is based on much more than whether or not they have a furry companion, and if they are responsible in other ways--such as managing their finances--pets may not pose a problem.
TransUnion SmartMove is the landlord’s online tenant screening solution for great reports, great convenience, and great tenants. Landlords receive a renter credit report, rental criminal background check and eviction check to make informed, timely screening decisions.