Pets & Property Management
Pets are doggone fun additions to any household, but the related policies and procedures needed when housing pets in a rental property can make even the toughest landlords tuck their tail between their legs. From determining if you’ll allow pets at all to pet fees and pet rent, you have a number of decisions to make. While your first instinct may be to bar pets completely, the stats we found might make you reconsider that position.
If expanding your potential tenant pool and potentially reducing your vacancy cycle aren’t reason enough to open your rental to Fido, it’s worth noting that the Humane Society lists issues with finding pet-friendly housing as one of the top reasons why pets are surrendered to shelters. If you’re interested in keeping four-legged friends with their families but aren’t sure where to start, we’re here to help you.
Key points you should include in the pet addendum
The tenant must agree that the pet(s) are and will be properly licensed and vaccinated following the applicable laws. Don’t forget to ask for proof of licensing and vaccination. They should also agree that they are responsible for compliance with all local laws and regulations relating to pets.
The tenant must agree that the pet(s) are housebroken and that they don’t have vicious tendencies or a history of threatening or causing harm to persons.
The tenant must agree to clean up after their pet(s) and properly dispose of all waste.
The tenant must agree to keep the property free from pet odor and stains.
The tenant must agree to be responsible for and will be charged for any damage caused to the property caused by their pet(s). Damages include, but are not limited to, damages to floors, carpets, drapes, screens, landscaping, and fencing, including odors due to the presence of pets.
Licensing, Identification, and Vaccinations
Cats and dogs are the most common pets in U.S. households. These animals are required to have certain vaccinations, and their owners must have proper identification and licenses for them, the Realty Times states.
Before approving of a pet in a renter’s unit, the source says you should ensure they have all proper documentation for their furry friends, and that the pets have received the proper vaccinations.
If you are going to allow pets it is important to have a detailed pet policy in place. This policy should outline the rules for both tenants and their pets and should be included in your lease. The first thing you need to decide is what type of animals will you allow? Some common pets are dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, fish, hamsters, reptiles, and gerbils. The next step is to determine the number of pets you will allow. An example is the tenant may have a maximum of 2 dogs or a maximum of 2 hamsters. An important thing to also include is what type of dog breeds will you allow. If you don’t wish to put the type of breeds, you could put a weight limit. A key point to add is that you must add a clause that says the tenants are not allowed to have any other pets on the property other than those designated, including any pets that are just visiting. Many insurance companies have specific breeds that they do not cover, so be sure to check with them when drafting a pet policy.
The pet agreement is usually added to an existing lease agreement through an addendum or amendment and becomes a part of the original lease agreement. The pet addendum should include a list of the pets, including their names, age, and a picture. This will help prevent from the tenants changing the pet you approve, for example from having a poodle to a pit bull. You want to keep all these on a record.
Start With The Rental Application
Make sure your property listing is clear about what types of pets are allowed at your property, including uncommon pets like hamsters or reptiles. Some landlords will exclude certain breeds with a history of aggression, such as pit bulls, or they’ll put a weight limit in place for any animals to ensure that you don’t end up with a horse in your rental’s living room.
When someone applies to your property, be sure you get information about the prospective tenant‘s pet, what breed it is, and details about its temperament. Use an online rental application that allows you to tailor questions around the pet det
Charging Pet Fees, Pet Rent, and Deposits
Most landlords who do allow pets charge an additional fee for each animal. There are a few different approaches you can take for charging pet rent.
Pet Deposit: You can ask for a pet deposit in addition to the property’s security deposit. If you choose to charge a deposit, this money should be refundable if the property is not damaged, just like a normal security deposit.
Pet Fees: Some landlords opt for charging a non-refundable, one-time pet fee. You can charge one standard pet fee to your tenants or you can charge a pet fee for each pet that will be living in the rental unit.
Pet Rent: Another option is to charge pet rent each month. Make sure if you choose to charge a monthly pet rent that the amount is reasonable, or you may lose your competitive advantage. Petfinder found that pet rent premiums were 20-30% above the average monthly rent.
It is important to note that even if you decide to implement a no pet policy, this will not apply to trained service animals. Service animals are not pets and you must amend your policy to accommodate persons with a disability who make a request for a reasonable accommodation to use and enjoy the premises. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) clearly outlines what constitutes a reasonable accommodation from a legal standpoint, and every property owner must comply with the law.
Landlord Pet Policy FAQs
What are the rules for pets in rentals?
The property owner can define the pet policy for their rental unit however they see fit, as long as their rules don’t infringe on the Americans with Disabilities Act or the Fair Housing Act. This means that landlords are not able to discriminate against service animals, emotional support animals, or any companion animal. When in doubt about a policy or specific instance, the property manager should speak to an attorney.
How do you get around pet restrictions?
If the property owner clearly defines their pet policy in the rental lease agreement and it does not violate any fair housing, ADA, or local laws, then the signed tenant must abide by those policies.
Landlords are not able to discriminate against service dogs, companion animals, or any tenant with a disability that requires a service or emotional support animal.
American's favorite furry friends
Approximate number of household owning the following pets in the United States(2021-2022)