Pet Friendly or Not?

Before you begin to advertise a property to renters, it must first be decided if it will be pet-friendly or not. We have all heard the horror stories about pets destroying properties, but responsible pet owners can be beneficial for a property. Here are some important things to consider when deciding on a pet plan for a rental unit. The hard truth is that somewhere between 50 to 75 percent of all renters own a pet. Therefore, it is a common question in the property management industry as to whether a rental property will allow a pet or not. According to some studies pet owners make more money, while this isn’t always the case it may mean that you can expect rent paid on time. Pet owners are also known for longer terms of a tenancy because it can be difficult to find another rental that will allow pets. Many property managers believe that pet owners make for better tenants because of the responsibilities associated with pet ownership it ultimately translates into a more responsible tenant. Some pet-friendly properties can charge a higher rate of rent for the luxury of having a pet and added pet features that the property may offer such as a fenced backyard.

When pets are allowed, it also decreases the chances that a tenant may try to sneak unapproved pets onto the property premises. Animals are known for reducing stress in humans, therefore having a pet can make the property feel more like home and thus a happier tenant. Vacancies are filled more easily in a pet-friendly rental as opposed to one that doesn’t allow pets as the applicant pool will be much smaller.

With the benefits of offering a pet-friendly property come the associated risks. Some animals can be noisy and cause complaints by neighbors. In some cases, the loss of tenants may take place because they don’t want to put up with another tenant's ill-behaved pet. There is also a liability risk associated with dog bites and other pet related issues. In addition, pets can cause damage to a property through chewing and digging, which may run over the initial security deposit or pet fee, leaving the property owner to pay the difference in repair costs. In the case of a disabled person, Fair Housing regulations require that a landlord or property manager allow a pet.

Some property managers assess a pet fee while others suggest that fines be imposed instead to motivate the pet owner to ensure that the pet behaves well. Pet screening is another way to handle pets. Have a pet-owning tenant fill out a pet application for each pet including a photograph. This can be helpful in knowing what you are dealing with. Pet rules and policies must be put in place to safeguard the property and your property management business. A tenant should review and acknowledge these at the time of the lease signing. A great way to manage properties that allow pets is to be proactive in your management. While pet stains and accidents aren’t great, you can offer tenants solutions for dealing with them. Offer a list of recommended carpet cleaners, dog parks, groomers, and other related services that a pet owner may benefit from.

The number of pet owners is on the rise and so is the demand for pet-friendly rentals, with a no pets allowed strategy a property management company will potentially lose a large portion of its potential renter pool.