How to Assess and Decide About Tenants with Pets

A study in 2011 found that 63% of pet owners consider their pets as family members. This data supports the claim that people are even willing to add veterinary costs to their total household expenditures. It also shows that people will not just give up their pets even if they have to move. They will always look for ways to keep their pets under their care.

If you are managing a rental property, you should know that 70% of tenants have pets. Allowing renters with pets to stay in your building is all up to you. Before you decide, however, you need to consider a lot of things that may affect your business. Aside from the advantages and disadvantages of allowing pets to live in one of your units, there are also specific state laws that regulate the renting policies. As a landlord, you need to look into these factors before you create your own rules for your prospective tenants.

Benefits of a Pet-Friendly Apartment

Before you think of the different reasons why you should not be allowing renters who live with their pets to stay in your apartment, you should also think of the gains for your business. Here are some of the reasons why you should be a pet-friendly landlord:

You will increase in the number of your prospective tenants

With the data that majority of families, including apartment renters, have pets will make you understand that most of your prospective tenants are pet owners. If you are going to close your door for these people, you are also lessening your chance to earn more money from your rental business. With this, turning your apartments and units into pet-friendly spaces will make you earn more.

You will not deal with tenants sneaking pets

If you have a very strict policy that does not allow tenants to bring their pets in the premises of your rental space, there will come a time that you will deal with renters who will be bringing in pets secretly. To manage your properties peacefully and if you want to maintain a good relationship with your tenants, you need to be more lenient to tenant with pets.

You can expect lower rate of vacancy

It would be very inconvenient for pet owners to frequently move from one apartment to another because not all landlords allow pets to live with tenants. With this, allowing this specific group of people to rent your property is a good thing for you because you will be dealing with lower rate of vacancy. You can expect them to stay longer and this would mean that you will continuously earn income from your property.

You can have more responsible tenants

Living with a pet is a responsibility. This is one thing that makes tenants with pets more responsible. They know that they have to spend for veterinary visits and they need to allot money for the food of their dog or cat. With this, they are fully aware that they have to make more income that will cover all these expenses. Aside from that, they are also aware that their pets need to be trained.

Qualifying Tenants with Pets

If you are still thinking whether you will allow renters with pets to stay in your apartment, you can draft a policy that is based on the following considerations:

Express your expectations in a written agreement

Before you allow tenants with pets to occupy your apartment, you need to make a written agreement to be attached to your leasing contract clearly stating your expectations about how they should handle their pets. This is one way for you to assess if they are willing to take responsibility for their pets and their future actions.

In the written agreement, you need to state important things such as the pet deposit, pet rent and other reasonable pet fees that you wish to add. You can add some restrictions including the places where the pets are not allowed to go. You can also include a list of responsibilities that they need to perform as pet owners.

You need to specify the number of pets that you are allowing. This way, you do not have to worry about pets getting out of control.

Ask for references

Most landlords who allow tenants to bring their pets in when they move are asking for pet resume. This is a document that shows the important information about the dog, cat or any other pet the tenant has. It also contains information about the training that the dog has undergone. This is quite an important qualification that most landlords consider before allowing pets to live in their premises.

Another thing that you can ask from the tenant is to provide contacts for their past landlords. This way, you will be able to investigate about the behavior of the pets. You can also ask for their recommendation. A simple investigation will help you decide whether or not the pets should be allowed in your building.

Decide according to the pet’s behavior

The mistake that most landlords make is that they decide according to the breed. Some are intimidated with the size of a dog. With the trainings that are available for pets, you can expect that even the toughest looking dog can become gentle and disciplined. As a landlord, it is your responsibility to check the behavior of the pet by asking the former landlord and by asking for a certification of training before you decide.

Familiarize yourself with the Fair Housing Law

As a landlord, you need to know that you cannot just reject a tenant because they are being protected by the Fair Housing Law. When it comes to your dilemma on whether or not you are going to allow your tenants to bring their pets in, you should be really careful in deciding.

Be careful when rejecting the presence of a pet in your apartment especially if the tenant is a person with disability. If it has been proven that the said tenant needs the assistance of the pet in going around and in doing daily chores, you will surely answer to the authorities because this will fall under discrimination. To be sure, ask the person with disability to present to you a certification stating that he or she needs the pet for daily assistance.

Rent, Deposit, and other Additional Fees for Pets

Every pet owner is aware of the added fees that they need to pay for their pets. Depending on the state laws in your specific area, you can consider collecting pet rent, pet deposits, and other pet fees that you think are necessary. These payments are considered as security for the landlord.

Here are the most common fees that most landlords collect from their tenants who have pets:

  • Pet rents are just additional fees to the rent that the tenant is going to pay. This is a common practice among landlords who consider pets as additional renters. It is a fixed amount that is added to the monthly rent. Tenants expect to pay pet rents because they understand that their pets also need enough space where they can play and stay. This is non-refundable.
  • Pet deposits vary in different places. There are states that do not allow landlords to collect deposits so they just collect pet rent. Pet deposits can also be refundable or non-refundable depending on what is allowed in your area. For others, they collect fixed deposit for one or more pets.
  • Pet fees are paid one time before the tenants can occupy the place. This serves as a payment for the admission of the pet. It is also non-refundable.

Aside from these additional fees for pets, there are also states that allow the reimbursement of the money you will be spending for the damages caused by the pets. You just have to secure proper documentation and have the receipt as proof for the additional payment. In addition, it should be properly stipulated in the contract that any future damages caused by the pets will be paid by the tenant.

One of the questions that most tenants will be asking is the coverage of the pet fees, pet rent, and pet deposits. Is it for one pet only or does it include all the pets? You need to be ready in answering these questions. Most states are allowing $10-$50 monthly pet rent. For the pet deposit, there are states that allow $400-$600. You can use this information to determine the fees that will go with a certain number of pets.

Know More about Your Rights and Responsibilities as a Landlord

With the Fair Housing Law and the specific state law that is being followed in your area, you need to learn more about your rights and duties as a landlord. Tenants know their rights and they use this knowledge when choosing the best apartment to rent.

Know the legal aspects of your rental business and you will surely be able to answer queries and questions from prospective tenants. Visit Rental Academy for more articles that will help you better understand your role as a landlord.

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