Dogs and cats can be people’s best friends, providing companionship and emotional support. Renters see them as a source of happiness, but pets can cause some problems for landlords. Here are the benefits and disadvantages of accepting tenants with pets.
Why Landlords Should Accept Pets
More people are working remotely due to the pandemic. They now have the flexibility to move to their dream location, and pet owners want to bring their furry friends along with them. Here are some of the reasons to allow pets on your property.
1. Expands Your Tenant Pool
When you allow renters with pets, you expand your candidate pool. Many people own dogs, and about 78% struggle to find pet-friendly housing. Therefore, renters are more attracted to your property if you provide this amenity.
You can even entice soon-to-be pet owners who are looking for the right location. Also, since it takes longer to find a rental property that accepts pets, they may commit quicker.
2. Reduces Vacancies
A competitive market and limited pet-friendly housing means renters will stay longer. It can be more challenging to move with pets, as well. On average, a renter with a dog will remain for 46 months compared to 18 months for a non-pet-friendly residence.
More lease renewals mean you can keep a steady profit. Also, it takes time to find new tenants when a unit becomes vacant, leading to lost income. Providing services that keep your renters happy is essential.
3. Makes You More Money
You can charge a one-time, nonrefundable payment when you accept dogs, known as a pet fee. Check with your local laws for the guidelines, but these expenses usually range from £100-£500. Another option is to charge a pet deposit to protect your property from potential damage.
Along with these expenses, you can ask tenants to pay pet rent as part of their monthly costs. These additional sources of income might balance out the inconveniences of allowing dogs.
4. Protects Your Property From Unauthorized Pets
You can set up a pet policy if you allow them on your property. This protects against any damage done by the animal and enables you to establish clear rules. You can ask renters to provide a pet deposit, so they are responsible for covering any damages. Tenants will then be more likely to prevent any issues since they have money on the line.
Outline specific guidelines within your policy, such as requiring identification or vaccines. You can also specify the types of pets based on features like weight. Outlining the renter’s responsibilities will provide a more peaceful living situation for all.
Keep in mind if you don’t allow pets, some tenants may try to sneak them in. These unauthorized animals can cause harm to the property and other residents, and you would then be responsible for the compensation.
5. Boosts Your Rentals’ Reputation
Having a pet-friendly space makes you popular in the community. One of the reasons dogs or cats end up in shelters is because owners can’t bring them into their new apartment. In fact, housing is the second-most common reason people give away pets to shelters.
By saving an animal from this fate, you’re supporting a worthy cause. Showing you care about keeping pets and their owners together strengthens your reputation. You then can see your profits rise as well.
6. Provides You With More Responsible Tenants
Many pet owners take good care of their pets and may already have strict rules for them. Also, since they know pet-friendly housing is limited, they may keep a closer eye on their animals.
Pet owners’ responsible nature is helpful in other areas, as well. For example, they may be more likely to pay rent on time or keep the rest of their space tidy. Plus, some renters earn a higher paycheck to pay for pet food and toys.
7. Improves Renters’ Mental Health
The pandemic caused many people to feel isolated, increasing depression and anxiety. In the spring of 2020, 27.8% of adults had elevated symptoms of depression. However, dogs can help relieve their owners’ stress and increase happiness. They can also improve a person’s physical health by encouraging them to exercise more often.
Here are some other ways pets can provide benefits:
- They offer companionship
- They can boost your self-confidence
- They can encourage you to meet new people
- They can add structure to your day
With all these positive benefits, renters will be happier and more likely to stay longer. It can also make them a friendlier neighbor to the other tenants.
The Drawbacks of Allowing Pets
While allowing pets can increase your business, there are some things to consider. Having animals on the premises can be a concern of other tenants. Also, untrained dogs may lead to more structural repairs down the line. Here are some of the things to consider before you allow pets on your property.
1. Pets Are Noisy
Dogs may bark for attention or when they’re excited. If not controlled, this can become a disturbance for neighboring tenants. When you let pets on the property, there is a chance you may receive noise complaints. Keep in mind unhappy renters can lead to vacancies. If you get multiple complaints, be sure to give the pet owner a proper warning.
Before a renter moves in, have an honest conversation about your expectations. Ask if the dog has been properly trained or if their pet has caused issues in the past. Pre-screening can prevent problems in the future.
2. Pets Can Cause Damage
Even animals that are trained can potentially damage your property. Dogs can act up when owners are away by scratching the floors or pooping on the rug. Cats have been known to climb curtains. In addition, ungroomed pets can bring fleas and termites inside.
When the renter moves out, you will need to make repairs for the next occupant. Consider adding vinyl flooring, which is scratch-resistant and easy to clean. Another bonus is its affordability.
3. Pets Can Harm Other Residents
Pets can be unpredictable and, if scared, could attack other tenants. This could lead to renters leaving and hurting your reputation. Serious injuries could also create liability issues. That’s why it’s vital to properly screen people and suggest they invest in renters insurance. Getting to know your tenants and their pets beforehand is essential.
4. You Could Lose Tenants
Since dogs can be noisy, some renters may have trouble sleeping or working. They may then decide to move out, leaving you with a vacancy to fill. Another reason tenants may leave is that some people have pet allergies.
Also, families with small children may be concerned about dog bites. Plus, some owners don’t always pick up after their pets. Therefore, keeping all your tenants happy is essential to ensure you don’t lose any business.
5. Some Pets Can Cause Odors
Uncleaned cat litter boxes can create unwanted odors, and animals that pee in the hallways produce lingering smells within common areas. Plus, pets that aren’t properly bathed can spread unpleasant scents inside the building. These unwanted odors can lead to tenant complaints and higher turnover rates.
Once a renter has left, be sure to vacuum the floor and use an enzymatic cleaner on surfaces. Also, opening up a window can help air out the smell.
6. It May Be Harder to Access Certain Apartments
Some animals may be protective of their owners and may become aggressive when a stranger enters the apartment. This can be an issue if you need to enter the room in an emergency. It can also make it more difficult when you need to make repairs.
7. You Could Have Higher Insurance Premiums
Having dogs on your property involves some risk. Certain breeds, such as pit bulls, are known to bite or create other liabilities. Therefore, you’re more likely to file a claim, causing the insurer to raise your rates. You could even face insurance exclusion or be denied coverage. With this in mind, examine your policy to determine the types of pets you want to allow.
How to Effectively Run a Pet-Friendly Rental
You may have decided a pet-friendly space is the way to go. You want to increase your candidate pool and boost your reputation, but allowing animals takes careful planning. Here are some tips to get you started.
1. Carefully Screen Your Tenants
When looking for the perfect tenant, you want to learn more about them and their furry friends. Having more information can prevent future complaints or damage. The first step is to conduct an online screening to determine if the person will be a good fit and the type of pet owner they are. Ask for references from past landlords to see if the animal has been an issue in the past.
The next step is to meet the potential renter in person, along with their pet. Interacting with them can give you a better idea of how responsible they are. Also, pay attention to how well-groomed or behaved the animal is. Do they respond well to simple commands?
In addition, you may want to ask the tenant the following questions:
- Do you leave the pet alone for long periods?
- What type of exercise does the animal get?
- Are they spayed or neutered?
- Have they had obedience training?
- Is your pet properly licensed?
2. Have a Clear Rental Pet Policy
You want to include a pet policy in the rental agreement, so you’re not responsible for any damage. Make sure you provide the tenants with a copy and ask them to review it carefully. Consider giving the policy out to non-pet owners, as well. They could get a dog down the line, and you want them to understand the expectations upfront.
When creating the policy, be clear about expectations and guidelines. Be sure to include the following in the agreement:
- The types of breeds you allow
- Any weight limits
- The fact that only tenants’ pets are allowed
- If pets must wear identification tags, such as collars
- That renters must pick up after their pets
It’s a good idea only to allow pets you approve of. Make it clear that you can ask a tenant to remove an animal if it doesn’t comply with your policy. Also, consider charging a pet fee to protect your property from potential damage. Try to make the payment refundable, enticing renters to follow the guidelines.
3. Ask Your Tenants to Take Out Renters Insurance
One of the larger concerns with pets is damage to your property. Renters insurance will cover liability for animal bites or scratched flooring. However, you want to check with your policy to see what is covered. For example, a fish tank breaking and causing water damage may not be insured.
Also, the company may not provide service if it’s a non-covered pet. Be sure to figure out any restrictions before the tenant moves in.
4. Add Fencing Around Your Property
Fencing allows dogs to be outside without the risk of them escaping. It also keeps them away from other tenants and pets, reducing liability risks. In addition, fencing offers more privacy, which can increase the value of the housing. Therefore, buyers may be willing to pay more for a popular feature. Families with small children will also enjoy having a fence.
Depending on your budget, you have a variety of materials to choose from. Chain-link fencing is cheap and easy to install, although it may lack some aesthetic appeal.
If you can spend a little more, wooden fences are popular and durable choices. Plus, they blend well with the natural elements. Vinyl is the most expensive option, but is strong and requires minimal maintenance.
Should You Allow Pets on Your Property?
Having animals in your rental makes your tenants happy and can increase business. On the other hand, they can disturb other renters or damage your interior. Therefore, the decision comes down to personal preference.
Whatever you decide, clearly outline the expectations within the rental lease and make sure all tenants read and understand the policy. That will make life more pleasant for all parties involved.
Rose Morrison is the managing editor of Renovated.com, and has written in the industry for over 5 years. Her work has been featured on NCCER, LevelSet, and other reputable publications.