When considering how to protect your real estate investments, don’t forget about pets. It’s no secret that pets can cause serious damage to a home. In addition to home damage, certain breeds may also pose other liabilities. As a flexible and easy to work with landlord, you may want to welcome all breeds. However, insurance companies don’t feel the same. This can make it difficult for people with pets to find rentals willing to accept them. Especially, for renters with multiple pets.
So, the question stands: should you accept pets in your rentals? It really depends. Here are some reasons why you should accept pets in your rentals:
Not All Pets are Destructive
While it’s absolutely true that many pets are destructive (especially young ones), most are not. When carefully vetting prospective tenants through personal references, interviews, and so on, you can likely find out how a person cares for their pets and property.
Do they often exercise their pet? Do they work long hours away from home? Do they take their pet on day trips with them? Do they leave the pet alone for hours on end with no company, exercise, or potty breaks? These types of questions can be found out during casual conversation when interviewing possible tenants and make a huge difference in the way the pet will behave in your rental property.
You should also establish a pet agreement that includes a picture of the pet, its veterinary information and a pledge that there is no history of violence with the animal. Then collect a pet deposit, along with monthly pet rent, to cover possible pet damage to the property.
Some Rentals Are More Pet-Friendly Than Others
Does the property have a fenced yard? Does it have tile flooring? If so, you may want to consider accepting pets.
It would be difficult for a domesticated animal to harm tile floors. However, in properties where there are wood floors, you may not want to allow dogs as the potential for damaging these floors is much higher.
Just because you accept pets in one property doesn’t mean you need to across the board. If none of your properties are a good fit for animals it is OK to state that.
Pet-Owning Renters Are Willing to Pay Deposits and Fees
People love their animals; they’re part of the family. This is why many renters are willing to pay an extra security deposit plus pet rent each month to ensure they can house their animals.
Most follow through with the required additional payments and are responsible for their pets.
Offering a refundable pet deposit could help ensure that the tenants help preserve the property and guard against pet damage, as well.
There is no incentive to prevent an animal from damaging a place if someone pays a non-refundable deposit up-front, however, if there are a few hundred dollars on the line, it’s safe to assume renters will put in the effort to fix any pet-related damage prior to move out or adjust said pet’s behavior.
What to Do If Pets Cause Damage
If upon move out, you sense pet odor, deploy an odor bomb in the venting system. This is usually less than $60 and very effective to destroy pet odor.
What about puppy chewing damage? If these damages exceed the pet deposit, try to bill the tenant for the remaining costs. Most of the time, they will not want to be taken to court and will settle up for fear of the cost coming up on their credit report.
Overall, accepting pets in your rentals can help you appeal to families that are not accepted in other properties. It is usually less frightening than it seems and there are ways to help undo pet damage caused by your tenants. The pros outweigh the cons in this case and help ensure that you are a flexible property owner who is easy to work with. Just make sure to cover your bases and protect your assets.
Roberta L. Voss, JD, e-Pro, CNE, SFR, CDPE
The Voss Team