A number of people in the United States keep pets in their home and often they're thought of as part of the family. When they start looking to move into a rental, one of the things that they'll be looking for is if the property allows that furry family member to stay with them or not. This could be a make or break for some potential tenants.
In a booming rental market you may have an easier time being choosy as to the kind of applicants you will consider. While some things are federally and state regulated so that you may not use it to determine if you'd like the applicant to become your newest tenant, in most cases if the applicant has a pet is not one of them.
There are pros and cons to accepting pet owners as tenants. Pets may cause damage to the property that would not have been caused otherwise. They may tear up carpet, hardwood floors, blinds, and any other number of things. If a tenant's animal gets out from the yard or the home and injures a neighbor, even as the landlord and not the owner of the animal, you may find yourself in trouble for it simply because you allowed the pet on the property. Because of the liability there, some home insurances will not allow certain breeds to live within the home. If you knowingly accept a tenant with one of these restricted breeds and something happens on the property that causes you to file a claim, there is a chance that you will not be able to do so because you've accepted the animal. It's always best to check the details of the insurance policy.
Even if you allow pets, it's often a good practice to detail out in the lease how many may reside on the property and how much you charge for a pet deposit and, if you choose, pet rent. This will help offset any costs and repairs you may need to do after the tenant moves out and Fido has made your built-in bookshelf his newest chew toy.
Knowing what kind of animals reside in the property is also a good practice. Some landlords choose to avoid certain breeds (in part due to what was mentioned before about both liability and their home insurance policy), but it may also be a good idea to have waivers signed upon move-in that release the landlord/property manager from any responsibility if the pet should get loose and cause harm or injury to a neighbor or neighbor's property.
Enforcing pet clauses is important so that you can protect your property. If you decide to allow pets or not, you should detail everything out in the lease that both you and the tenant sign before they move in. Make sure they understand the rules for the property so that they cannot claim ignorance later on.
As with any rules, there are always exceptions, and if you receive a tenant that has a service animal you will need to make exceptions for them. A service animal is not considered a pet, so your pet clauses will not hold up if the tenant requests to have the animal there. There are certain qualifications for what is or is not a service animal, but if the animal does qualify then you will need to make certain reasonable accommodations for that tenant, including allowing the pet onto the property and waving the pet deposit for the animal.
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