Renting to Pet Owners

As a property manager, there are a lot of things to consider when taking on a new tenant. In addition to checking a renter’s income and running a background check, you have to take special consideration for tenants that are bringing their furry companions along with them. Dogs may be a man’s best friend, but they aren’t necessarily a property manager’s best friend. Animals are wonderful companions, but they can wrought a fair amount of destruction. When considering renting to pet owners, there are three questions you should ask yourself.

1. What restrictions should I place on the type of pet?

Many property managers decide to protect their investments by placing restrictions on the number and types of pets allowed. Let’s start with the number. You don’t want to rent to someone who is going to turn their home into a makeshift animal shelter. Limiting the number of pets allowed to two or three will limit the amount of animal-induced property damage. Next, look at the size of the pet. A 200 pound Mastiff is capable of doing more damage than a 5 pound Chihuahua. A lot of property managers will choose to place a limit on the weight of pets, only renting to pet owners with pets under 50 pounds. Some people also decide to take the restriction a step further, allowing cats, but not dogs. While cats are better for noise pollution, there is no way to get the smell of cat urine out of a carpet.

If you decide to place restrictions on breed, size, or weight, keep in mind that no two animals are alike. That 200 pound mastiff may be incredibly quiet and well-behaved, while the 5 pound Chihuahua may chew on the baseboards, make on the carpet, be vicious to other residents and pets, or bark into the night. You may consider requesting interviews with the pets before renting to a pet owner. If the potential tenant’s companion tries to attack you, won’t stop barking, or decides to take a dump on your shoes, they may not be the right tenant for you.

2. Should I charge a pet deposit?

A good way to protect yourself as a property manager is to charge a refundable pet deposit. If the pet ends up being a property owner’s dream with no damage inflicted to the property, great! Simply refund the deposit; there is no loss to you or the tenant. On the other hand, if significant cleaning or repairs are in order, that deposit will help cover the costs. To decide on amount, consider how much carpet cleaning and other likely animal-caused needs for repair will cost. This is usually a few hundred dollars.

3. Should I charge pet rent?

Another tactic used by property managers to cover the cost of renting to pet owners is to charge an increased monthly rent to tenants with pets. This doesn’t have to be a significant increase. Just an extra $25 each month will give you an extra $300 per year lease. Before you decide to go this route, though, make sure you check local laws. Not every state allows pet rent, or even pet deposits. You want to ensure you’re following regulations. After all, a lawsuit is going to cost you a lot more than a rambunctious Rottweiler.

If you’re considering renting to pet owners, talk to one of our rental specialists today.