Property owners and managers shouldn't turn away good tenants just because they have one or two pets. According to a recent article by Chad Gardland, about 70 percent of tenants who live in rental apartments own pets, with majority of those owning a cat or dog.
Unfortunately, many pet owners admitted that it can be quite difficult to find apartments that are pet friendly. About two-thirds of urban pet owners had difficulties finding a rental property where pets are allowed.
By excluding pets from their rental properties, landlords and managers also exclude an important percentage of compatible tenants. This is a limiting approach because if done right, making rental properties pet friendly can attract great tenants. In fact, according to Psychology Today’s report, people who own pets are happier, have more stability, and are more likely to rent a property long-term.
So, this could be beneficial for property managers, as this may attract high quality applicants. However, be prepared to deal with the risks that are associated with pets such as property damage, complaints, and maintenance.
How to make a rental property pet friendly
While making your rental units pet friendly is a great property management idea, there are certain policies that need to be considered before new tenants move in. These policies are designed to protect both property owner and the tenants and by enforcing them you ensure that everyone is held accountable.
The lease should include a pet agreement, where the property manager should include clear terms of pet ownership and whether or not tenants can bring pets on the property. That way, tenants can refer to their lease if they ever consider getting a pet. The following aspects should always be included in a pet agreement:
- The value of the pet deposit - The majority of rental properties will require paying an additional fee or a pet deposit for each animal. Certain jurisdictions might limit the amount of money that a landlord can charge for these fees, so keep deposits reasonable.
- The number of pets allowed on the property - While limiting the number of goldfish is not necessary, you might want to limit the number of cats and dogs to a maximum of three. Of course, this depends on the size of the property. The animal limit for a single bedroom apartment will not be the same as for a two-story house with a big backyard.
- The types of animals allowed on the property - In general, landlords will only allow tenants to have typical pets like fish, mice, small birds, dogs, and cats. It would be unwise to allow tenants to bring exotic animals or certain breeds to the property.
- The size of the animals - Excluding certain dog breeds can be unfair, so instead, you could set a maximum size.
Requiring pet approval
Forgoing approval requirements for regular pets that are unlikely to cause problems (aquarium fish, domestic rodents, and small birds) is reasonable. It is also reasonable to require a list of approved breeds of animals.
In the case of dogs, approval might depend on answering a set of standard questions. These questions will probably inquire about the dog’s size, breed, weight, and whether the animal is aggressive or not. A nice way to gather info about a tenant’s pet is by including a pet resume in the tenancy application. The pet resume should also include a photo of the animal.
Outlining the pet-owning tenants' responsibilities
Some of the most important responsibilities that a tenant who owns pets should take into consideration are:
- Walking the pet only in areas that are designated for that purpose.
- Picking up the animals messes.
- Not letting pets roam freely.
- Walking pets on a leash.
- Sharing regular vet reports that indicate the fact that the pets have all the required vaccinations are are healthy.
- Having renters insurance.
- Making sure that the pets are not noisy.
Making your rental property pet-friendly can help owners and managers find ideal tenants, as pet owners tend to be less inclined to move around often and rent for longer periods of time.
A good way to attract pet-owning tenants is by offering them different amenities that like partnerships with pet-sitters or vets. If a tenant has been refused by property managers who don’t allow pets, they will view yours as a clear winner.
As of late, many landlords and property managers are realising that welcoming pets is a great way to find tenants. It's important to make sure that pet policies are tailored to protect all the parties involved including the pets.
To enjoy all the benefits of a pet-loving community, property managers should ensure that upfront pet agreements are signed and that the tenants are informed about all their future responsibilities.
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