Pros & Cons of Allowing Pets in Your Rental Properties

Jan 27, 2021 10:14:48 AM / by Hignell Property Management Team

dog with man and woman in rental property

The decision on whether you'll allow pets in one or more of your investment properties isn't a personal decision. It's a business decision, and it's a decision that must be made by you as the property owner before a unit is leased.

Pros of Allowing Pets in Your Rental Property

There can be a variety of benefits to allowing pets in your rental units, the most obvious of which is that you're dramatically increasing the number of people who are going to make inquiries. Of course, you can charge a pet damage deposit, but you're earning little or nothing on that. 

There are several alternatives you can work with that will increase your income though. One of those is to charge a non-refundable pet fee. Another is to charge pet rent by bumping up the base monthly rent on a unit if pets live there.

Availability of Pet Friendly Housing

According to the American Pet Products Association, 67% of all households had pets living in them in 2019 and 2020. Of course, the overwhelming majority of those were dogs and cats. The Pet Savers Foundation reports that about 50% of all residential property owners in the country are pet friendly. If you offer pet-friendly housing, you increase your opportunity to keep that property occupied.

You Can Screen Owners and Their Pets

Quality units attract quality residents. Don't be shy about screening potential residents and their pets. That can operate in the best interests of everybody, pets included. Pet owners are more likely to rent on a long-term basis. That's because it can be difficult for a pet owner to find another suitable place to live. Some pet owners are even concerned about the stress that a new home will put on their pet.

Interviewing the Applicant and Their Pet

You'll want to protect yourself and your investment property as much as possible. One way of doing that is by interviewing both the applicant and their pet. Here are just a few questions that could be asked:

  • How many dogs or cats do you own?
  • What is the breed and size of each pet?
  • What is the age of the pet, and how long have you had it?
  • Has the pet ever acted aggressively toward another person, child or animal?
  • How well is the pet trained?
  • Are the pet's shots current?

Cons Against Allowing Pets in Your Rental Properties

The obvious reasons why a property owner might not be amenable to opening up rental units to pets are property damage and personal injury. 

Risk of Property Damage & Personal Injury

Over its lifetime, a dog can cause considerable damage to a rental unit. Even a 20 pound dog can chew on cabinets and trim, scratch wooden floors, tear up carpeting, urinate on it and damage screens and windows protecting the house from the mailman. Defending their family's territory raises concerns about one or more dogs barking or even biting somebody.

Other than not barking or biting, cats aren't much better. Both dogs and cats carry allergens, fleas and mites, and if not properly cared for, they can infest a unit with insects while stinking the place up too.

If the Resident Doesn't Have Renter's Insurance

Whether an applicant has more than one pet or not, you'll want that individual to be covered by renter's insurance. In the event that a resident's dog gets loose and bites the mailman, or their cat claws somebody, you don't want to be held liable for any injuries or damages. Renter's insurance is inexpensive, and it typically covers a resident's liability for pet attacks. If an applicant already has coverage, that might be a good indicator of a responsible individual who probably pays their rent on time too.

When You Discover an Unpermitted Pet

Any lease is a contract. If your written lease says that pets aren't allowed, and a resident brings in a pet, that's a breach of contract and cause for an eviction. You'll need to speak directly with the resident to try and resolve the issue. Maybe the pet can be taken elsewhere. If you do choose to begin the eviction process, follow the letter of the law in your state and county. Judges don't like to order a person to leave their home, but they do it every day on a clear breach of a lease.

A note about assistance 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. 

Here at Hignell Property Management , we want to make owning residential rental property as easy as possible for you. We can help you with finding and screening possible residents, entering into leases, performing maintenance, collecting and depositing rents and forwarding you your proceeds. All the while, quality residents will be occupying quality units.

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Topics: Residential Property Management, Pets, Investment Property