Before you open your property to renters, you must first decide if you will make your property pet friendly. We have all heard the horror stories about pets destroying apartments, but responsible pet owners can actually be beneficial for your property. Here are some important things to consider when deciding on a pet plan for your property.
Pros of a Pet Friendly Property
Since we constantly hear about all the problems animals cause for landlords, you may not be as familiar with the benefits of allowing your tenants to have pets.
Here are some good reasons to allow pets in your property:
- Larger Prospective Tenant Pool- Firepaw.org states that almost 50% of renters own a pet. Therefore, if you make your property pet friendly, you can be more selective when choosing a tenant as you will have a larger group to choose from.
- Pet Owners Make More Money- According to Practical Apartment Management, by Edward N Kelly, 65% of pet owners earn over $50,000 a year. You should run a credit check to help determine if this money will go toward paying the rent.
- Longer Tenancy- Pet owners typically stay in a rental longer because it can be harder for them to find other pet friendly options.
- Responsible Pet Owners Are Responsible Tenants- If someone is mature enough to take good care of an animal, there is a good chance they will treat your property with the same respect.
- Charge Higher Rent- look around your area. If there are not a lot of pet friendly properties, tenants will have fewer options, and you may be able to charge slightly higher rents if you allow pets due to the increased demand.
- Happier Tenants- Animals can help reduce stress. Having a pet around can make your property feel more like a home for the tenant.
- If you allow pets, it will decrease the chances of tenants trying to sneak in pets that you have not approved.
Cons of a Pet Friendly Property
You are probably more familiar with reasons not to allow your tenants to have pets.
Some of the most common problems pets cause are:
- Damage to Your Apartment- Animals can scratch the floors, chew up carpets and have accidents on the carpets or wood floors.
- Disturbing Neighbors- Dogs barking, birds squawking and four legged animals running around the apartment can disturb other tenants in the property as well as outside neighbors.
- Liability- There is a risk of the animal biting other tenants or neighbors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that dogs bite 4.7 million people a year, with 800,000 of those needing medical attention.
- Loss of Other Tenants- Other tenants may be allergic to dogs or cats. Tenants may move when an animal becomes disruptive.
- Pet Odors- Accidents inside the unit or in the building common areas will cause odor, as will animals that are not properly groomed or cleaned.
Yes, there is a Fair Housing Law regarding pets. Even if you have a no pets policy, you cannot violate the housing rights for the disabled who require an animal for their well-being. You can ask for a note from their physician verifying their need for an assistance animal.
The definition of “disabled” is broadening every day. Service dogs for the blind or paralyzed used to be the norm. This law has now expanded to allow animals for groups such as the clinically depressed and those with post-traumatic stress because the animals can provide emotional support.
Check Your Insurance Coverage and Liability for Animals
You will want to check your insurance policy to find out what type of coverage you have if you decide to have a pet friendly property. Make sure you know the amount of liability coverage your policy includes. Ask your insurance company if there are any limitations or exclusions to this coverage, such as if they have a list of dog breeds they consider to be "dangerous breeds."
You should include a pet addendum in your lease and require every tenant to sign it. This policy should clearly state your pet policy (whether or not you allow animals) and your expectations of the pet owner. Make it clear that by signing the lease, the tenant agrees to these terms and if they violate these terms, it will be considered a breach of contract*.
The decision to make your property pet friendly is not one that should be taken lightly. It is important to weigh the pros and cons of allowing pets to decide what is right for you and your property. Remember to adhere to the Fair Housing Laws and to adopt the same policies for all tenants so you will not be accused of discrimination.
*As always, you should consult legal counsel to determine the proper language to use in your lease.