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Paws for Thought: A Property Owner’s Guide to Renting to Pet Owners

January 6, 2023 / by Hignell Property Management Team

renting to pet owners

When it comes to renting a property, it's important to consider a wide range of factors, including the needs and preferences of potential renters. If you're open to renting to pet owners, there are a few key things you'll want to keep in mind in order to ensure a smooth and successful residency.

Establish Clear Rules & Guidelines

First and foremost, it's important to establish clear rules and guidelines around pets in your rental agreement. This should include information about the types of pets allowed (if any), the number of pets permitted, and any specific breed restrictions that may be in place. You may also want to include guidelines around where pets are allowed in the property, as well as any rules around waste disposal and noise levels.

Require a Pet Deposit

Another important consideration is the potential for damage to your property. While most pet owners are responsible and take good care of their animals, it's still important to be aware of the potential for damage caused by pets, such as scratching on doors or furniture, or accidents in the home. You may want to consider requiring a pet deposit or adding a pet clause to your rental agreement to help cover any potential damages.

In addition to the potential for physical damage, it's also important to consider the impact that pets can have on the overall cleanliness of the property. Some pets, particularly those with long hair or those that shed, may require more frequent cleaning in order to keep the property looking its best. If you're concerned about this issue, you may want to consider requiring pet owners to agree to additional cleaning responsibilities as part of the rental agreement.

Protect Against Potential Injuries from Pets

Another key consideration when renting to pet owners is the issue of liability. As a property owner, you're responsible for maintaining a safe and secure property for your renters. This includes taking steps to minimize the risk of injury to both humans and animals.

For example, you may want to ensure that any fencing or gates around the property are in good repair and secure, to prevent pets from escaping. You may also want to consider requiring pet owners to carry liability insurance to protect against any potential injuries or damages caused by their pets.

Be Aware of Local Laws or Ordinances

It's important to be aware of any local laws or ordinances that may impact your ability to rent to pet owners. In some areas, there may be restrictions on the types or breeds of pets that are allowed, or limits on the number of pets that can be kept in a rental property. It's important to familiarize yourself with these laws and regulations, and to comply with them when renting to pet owners.

Screen the Pets Along with the Renters

One of the most important steps you can take when renting to pet owners is to carefully screen the pets during the renter screening process. This can help you ensure that you are renting to responsible pet owners who are capable of properly caring for their animals, and that the pets themselves are well-behaved and unlikely to cause any problems.

There are a few key things you can do to screen pets before allowing them to move into your rental property:

  • Ask for references from the pet's previous property owners or caretakers. This can help you get a sense of the pet's behavior and any potential issues that may have arisen in the past.
  • Require a veterinary reference, which can provide information about the pet's health and any medical conditions that may need to be taken into account.
  • Conduct a pet meet-and-greet, which can give you the opportunity to interact with the pet and assess its behavior and temperament. This can be particularly useful if you have any concerns about the pet's breed or size, or if you are unsure about how the pet will interact with other animals or people.

It's a good idea to have a clear set of criteria in place for screening pets, and to be consistent in applying these criteria to all potential renters. This can help you make fair and informed decisions about which pets are a good fit for your rental property, and can help you avoid any potential legal issues down the road.

By screening pets carefully before allowing them to rent, you can help ensure that your rental property is a safe and comfortable place for both humans and animals alike.

A note about service animals: 

Pets and service animals are completely different. Assistance animals can be called “comfort” animals, “companion” animals, "service" animals or “therapy” animals. They're a protected class of pet and your no-pet policy does not apply to them.  You must look at these animals almost like assistants, aids, or even a live-in nurse to help someone with a disability. Just like you wouldn’t discriminate with aids or nurses, you can’t discriminate against these animals. According to HUD (U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development), these animals provide assistance to disabled people that alleviates one or more symptoms of a disability. 

That being said you can still have the resident sign an service animal agreement which prohibits excessive barking, mandates cleaning up after the animal, and ensures the resident have the animal on a leash while in community areas. 

In summary, if you're considering renting to pet owners, there are a few key things you'll want to keep in mind. These include establishing clear rules and guidelines around pets in your rental agreement, being aware of the potential for damage and the impact on cleanliness, managing liability concerns, complying with any relevant local laws and ordinances, and having a pet screening process in place. By taking these factors into consideration, you can help ensure a successful residency for both you and your pet-owning renters.

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Topics: Residential Property Management, Self-Management, Pets