The APPA’s (American Pet Product Association) national survey of pet owners reveal that nearly 50% of homeowners own a dog and 45% of them have a cat. If the findings of this survey are anything to go by, then any serious landlord needs to soften his or her stand and allow pets into the property. After all, barring pets from the property equates to shutting yourself from half of the prospecting renters in the market. Besides, when you turn away a prospect because he or she owns a pet, the individual will not abandon his or her furry friend. They will only move on to the next available pet-friendly property.
Hence, instead of prohibiting pets on your property, why not allow them, but put in place measures that will safeguard your investment from damages and problems associated with pet ownership.
The following are some useful tips on how to diminish such risks.
6 Things to Think About When Renting to Tenants with Pets
Discuss with Your Insurance Company
One of the immediate things you should do before allowing a pet into your property is to find out from your insurer, whether or not they have any disclaimers, restrictions or reservations about pet-owning tenants. Are they comfortable with you hosting pet owning residents, and to what extent do they offer protection? For instance, do they protect against all injuries or damages likely to be caused by the animal, or do they just cover dog bites?
Have a Pet Interview
As absurd as it may sound, you need to carry out a personal pet interview to make a first-hand observation of the pet in question. Find out about its personality. Is it well-mannered and friendly, or is it wild and extremely territorial? During the interview, ask the owner some basic information about the animal, such as whether the pet-owner has renters insurance coverage, what risks does the policy cover, as well as whether the owner has a copy of the insurance coverage. Lastly, do not fail to take a picture of the animal for record keeping. It is not unusual for renters to present a well-behaved animal during the interview only for them to check into your property with a different animal after signing the lease.
Thoroughly Screen the Tenant
After meeting with the prospecting tenant and their pet, you need to take the selection process a notch higher and do thorough background tenant screening. Ask the applicant for contact details of his or her previous landlords/ landladies, as well as neighbors, and call them to determine the kind of tenant the applicant was. Such an inquiry might provide some interesting revelations. For instance, you might learn that it is the owner who was a poor pet keeper. At times however you might come across impressive reports. Depending on the feedback you get, you should be in a position to decide whether or not to continue engaging the applicant.
Include a Pet Clause in Your Lease
If you choose to allow pets on your property, it is prudent to create a clearly articulated pet policy. The policy should clarify the type of creatures you will allow on the property, the weight restrictions, the number of animals, as well as the duties, liabilities, and responsibilities of both you and the owner concerning the pet. When crafting the rules, however, be careful not to violate the fair housing laws or to unintentionally discriminate against service, assistance, and emotional support animals. Nevertheless, a standard clause should require that the tenant looks and picks up after the pet or face a fine, the resident ensures the pet does not inconvenience the neighbors and that the occupant sees to it that the pet is neutered and sprayed.
Charge a Higher Rent
Besides exposing you to a wider pool of prospective renters, allowing pets enables you to charge a higher rent. Surprisingly, most pet owners will be more than willing to pay a premium rate not to be separated from their furry companions. The extra amount is meant to pay for any damages that the pet might cause on your property. If you please, you could even ask the occupants to put down an extra pet deposit. Experts, however, caution against such a move as it tends to repel some clients. Besides, some states have restrictions on the amount of pet deposit fees you can charge.
Demand that the Animal be Neutered and Sprayed
A proven method of keeping the pets well-mannered is to have them sprayed and neutered. Doing so gives the animals a calming personality. As a result, the males will not roam around the neighborhood, engaging in fights or exhibiting inappropriate sexual behavior. Likewise, the females will not go into heat, urinate or bleed on your carpet, or howl annoyingly to attract males.
Even though having pets on your property exposes you, your tenants and property to risks such as noise nuisance, allergens, danger, physical injury as well as property damage these risks are manageable. Besides, allowing the pets has numerous benefits. These include access to a wider pool of renters, longer staying tenants, additional income in the form of rent or pet fees, as well as increased tenant enjoyment.