More and more Americans are choosing to become pet owners. And this figure is expected to continue to trend upwards in the future. But what exactly does this mean to a landlord?
Well, allowing a pet into your rental can be intimidating. You’ll need to know how you’re going to manage pet damage and noise complaints, for instance. It’ll all start with having an effective pet screening program. In this blog, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about allowing pets into your rental property.
The Benefits of Allowing Pets into a Rental Property
Allowing a pet into your rental property does come with a myriad of benefits to your bottom line. They include:
- Increased Tenant Pool - By allowing tenants into your property, you’ll be able to attract a large prospective tenant pool. After all, the majority of tenants in the U.S. are pet owners.
- Reduced Tenant Turnover - Tenants with pets are more likely to stay longer in a rental property because there are few pet-friendly rentals in the market. What’s more, they don’t want to disrupt their pets environment.
- Higher Rent Rates - Pet-friendly rentals are usually in higher demand no many properties accommodate pets, leading to higher rent.
What Does a Pet Screening Involve?
While there are plenty of of benefits to it, allowing a pet into your rental property does come with certain challenges including the following:
- Excessive Noise - Barking and meowing during all hours of the day and night can impact a neighbor’s quiet and peaceful enjoyment of their property.
- Stands and Smells - Pets can make a mess, cause odors and stain throughout the property. They are also usually difficult to get rid of.
- Yard Damage - Dogs may dig in a yard, which can create large holes and damage the landscaping.
- Hair Shedding and Dander - This can make the property look messy and difficult to clean up. What’s more the allergens can be hard to remove at the end of a tenancy.
With that said, you may be able to minimize issues by having a comprehensive pet screening program. It’s more or less similar to the regular tenant screening process. The goal is to make sure that the tenant’s pet is of good behavior and temperament.
You can do the screening yourself, or hire a reputable property management company to do it on your behalf. If you choose to do it yourself, the following are the questions you’ll want to ask the tenant:
- What breed is your pet?
- How much does your pet weigh?
- How old is your pet?
- How long have you had the pet?
- Have you vaccinated the pet against any viruses? If so, provide the proof.
- Is your pet in good health condition? Provide any supporting documents from your veterinarian.
- Has your pet caused any kind of damage to property? If so, please elaborate.
- Does your pet have any temperament issues?
If the pet is a dog, you may want to as specific questions like:
- Have you spayed your dog? If not, do you have any future plans to do so?
- Have you taken your dog to any specific training program?
- Do you keep your dog on a leash when going out?
- Is your dog house-trained?
If screening a cat, the following are the questions you’ll want to ask:
- Have you spayed your cat? If not, do you have any future plans of doing so?
- Is your cat indoor trained?
- Is your cat litter-box trained?
- Is your cat registered with the local animal care and control authority?
While having the prospective tenant fill out a pet screening application is all good, it’s also equally important to conduct an in-person screening. This will help you verify the information the tenant provided in the pet screening application form.
Please note, however, that some pets can get extremely nervous around strangers. As such, the initial interaction you have with the pet may not be a true reflection of the animal’s behavior or temperament.
The other option you have is to hire a reputable property management company to assess the pet for you. The benefit of taking this route is that a good property management company will have the experience and connections necessary to vet pets. And this will give you peace of mind, knowing that the pet is going to be a right fit for your property.
What Clauses Should You Include in a Lease Agreement?
A lease agreement is legally binding. By including certain pet clauses, you’ll be able to legally safeguard yourself against possible financial damage the pet can cause. The following are a few things you should include in the pet policy:
- The type of pet you allow into the property
- The breed of pet allowed into the property
- The number of pets a tenant can keep at any given time
- The recommended weight of a pet
Note that there may be exceptions for service and emotional support animals so check the Fair Housing Laws in your area to make sure that your pet clauses aren’t discriminatory.
Tips to Keep in Mind when Screening Pets
Make sure you observe the following tips when screening pets:
- Be mindful of service animals. Please note that “disability” is a protected class under the Fair Housing Act. Also, it’d be illegal for you to require them to pay a pet deposit.
- Screen all pets without exceptions. Don’t just screen the big dogs. Consistency is key to avoid a tenant accusing you of discrimination.
- Request updated records of a pet’s health at every lease renewal. This is because many things can happen over time that could impact the pets behaviour.
Screening a pet is always a good idea. It can help you avoid issues with your tenant and help protect your property’s value. For expert help in screening a pet, or the overall management of your rental property, look no further than Schambs Property Management. Get in touch to learn more!