Many landlords and property managers struggle with deciding on a pet policy. After all, there are pros and cons that need to be carefully weighed in order to determine whether you should allow pets. Here is a guide to help you explore which option is right for you, and how to protect yourself in case you do decide to allow pets inside your properties.

The Benefits of Allowing Pets
There are a number of clear benefits to allowing pets inside a property, and for many property owners and landlords, these benefits make it worthwhile to allow pets. Here are the main benefits to consider:

  • Tenants who can have pets on their property are much more likely to be happy with their living situation and far less likely to try to sneak a pet into their dwelling. Tenants with pets might also stay longer at your property, partly because they might have difficulty finding another pet-friendly rental, and partly because they’re happy with what they have.
  • You can often command slightly higher rents with a pet-friendly policy, especially if there isn't a huge selection of pet-friendly rentals in the area.
  • By allowing pets, you are going to significantly increase the amount of applicants you can choose from. In fact, Firepaw indicates that around 50 percent of renters have a pet, so you’d be losing out on many of these applicants by not accepting pets.
  • Pets are often a reason for neighbors to get to know each other, especially for people who are walking their dogs outside. That’s why pet-friendly apartments often help improve the sense of community in a rental space, which is also likely to increase your tenants' happiness overall.

The Disadvantages of Allowing Pets
While pets can be great, there are also significant drawbacks that every landlord should be aware of, including the following:

  • Certain pets can disturb other tenants, such as barking dogs or a cat that won’t stop running across a wooden floor.
  • If a tenant doesn't clean up after their pet, their dwelling may start to produce obnoxious odors that also disturb other tenants.
  • Pets can cause significant property damage, including scratching wood and tearing up carpet
  • You may be liable for an animal that bites one of your tenants and, for large dogs, there is a risk for serious injury to other tenants.
  • Other tenants may simply be afraid of certain animals or may even be allergic. Although you may be able to move a tenant to another dwelling in your complex that doesn't have any pets around it, this may be an issue that arises from time to time.

How to Protect Yourself
If you do decide to allow pets into your property, it’s a good idea to follow some general guidelines to make sure you reap the benefits and minimize the risks. For one, you should be screening tenants to ensure they have a good track record with other landlords. Although a good credit score won’t tell you if they’re great pet owners, it may show you that a tenant is responsible and likely able to look after their pet.
Don’t be afraid to ask what kind of pet an applicant has or what breed of dog they plan to have on your property. If it’s a dog that’s considered a "dangerous breed," you might want to say no and add an exclusion of dangerous breeds to your pet policy.
You should also check with your insurance company to learn what your liability coverage is for tenants who are bitten by a dog or injured by an animal on your property. You may not be covered if you allowed a "dangerous breed," so ask for specific details about your coverage.
All landlords have to decide whether a pet-friendly policy is right for their property. Use the above information to help you reach a decision that you’re happy with, and ensure you approach a pet-friendly policy the right way if you decide to allow pets on your property.


POSTED May 20 2015 12:14 PM

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