A common concern for landlords is the question of allowing pets in a rental property. Having a no-pet policy can hurt your tenant search by excluding a large number of qualified renters simply because they have a pet they are not willing to part with in for the sake of an apartment or house. But having a pet can open your property up to damage and possible liability if there is an incident. With two conflicting situations, it’s difficult to determine what a landlord’s best course of action is.
Things to Consider
The obvious things to consider when it comes to allowing pets in a rental property are damage to the property and liability issues. Animals are susceptible to anxiety and misbehavior due to changes, such as moving to a new home. Even the best animals could chew on cabinets and wall corners, dig into or soil carpets, and/or scratch walls and windowsills. In addition to what could happen to the property itself, you need to consider the behavior of the animal when it interacts with the neighbors and any visitors to the property, including yourself. Other things to consider at the local laws that may ban specific breeds or species.
Developing a Pet Policy
As a landlord, you can pretty much set any policy you’d like when it comes to pets but be mindful of what is and isn’t practical; expecting a dog to never bark is outrageous but a “yappy” dog can be considered a nuisance. You may want to hold a pet “interview” before agreeing to allowing a tenant to keep a pet in your property. This would allow you to keep a wider pool of potential tenants open but be able to weed out those tenants with pets who don’t meet your guidelines such as breed, size, or temperament. Once you do allow a tenant to house a pet you should have a written agreement with the rules clearly stated. These rules should list the specifics of each pet, the maximum number of pets allowed, and how the tenant is to expected to care and maintain the property and neighborhood with relation to their pet. You may also want to consider adding rules to the pet policy regarding the tenant’s responsibilities for caring for their pet such as not leaving the pet outside in extreme weather conditions or at night.
Protecting Your Property
If you do allow pets in your rental property, you should protect yourself both against the possibility of property damages and also liability against personal injuries arising from pets. A call to your homeowner’s insurance company will help determine what is and isn’t covered in your policy and if it’s necessary to purchase a pet rider. To help off-set the costs of needing to clean carpets and other areas of the home after the tenant and his pet have moved-out, you should collect a pet fee (per animal) at the signing of the lease. You should make your tenant fully aware that this fee is non-refundable and additional costs related to pet clean up may be deducted from their security deposit if necessary. You should also reserve the right to have the tenant remove the animal from the property at any time it becomes a nuisance to the property or the neighborhood without breaking the terms of the tenant’s lease.
Ultimately, deciding whether or not to allow a pet in your rental property is an individual business decision.
Do you allow pets in your rental property? Why or why not?