One of the top concerns my owner/clients have when first entering the world or property management is pets. Pet lover or not, this is a major concern. It is completely justifiable, everyone knows someone with a terror of a pet. A dog that chewed baseboards or a cat that sprayed all over new carpet. Even the good ones still get sick and accidents happen. So, when you are leasing out your home or investment what should you do? In my professional opinion, do not say no. At least not automatically …
According to the 2015-2016 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, 65% of U.S. households own a pet, which equates to 79.7 million homes. The two biggest reasons owners hire me is to protect their investment and reduce vacancies. When I first began my journey in property management, I would never disagree with an owner when they said “no pets.” And during those years, time after time, I wouldn’t show pet owners these homes. Time would go by and the property would sit vacant. Owners would inquire why their properties were not getting leased and eventually they would agree to allow pets. For most animal lovers, a no-pet policy is a deal breaker and according to the National Association of Realtors, “when finding a home, 95 percent of animal owners believe it is important that a housing community allows animals, and 81 percent of U.S. households say animal-related considerations will play a role in deciding on their next living situation.”
Team Residential Management may say “yes” to pets; however, we state there are pet restrictions. In many cities, there are restrictions on how many pets can be in a household. As a company, we do not allow more than 2 pets. We do not allow aggressive breeds due to homeowner’s insurance. Some companies have size restrictions, we do not. A bad pet is a bad pet, regardless of size.
There are things a property manager can do to alleviate the stress of having a four-legged tenant.
- Include a pet agreement with specifications about the pet along with a pet deposit and/or pet fee.
- Add special provisions specific to your client’s concerns. For example, we had a historic home with the original hardwood floors. On top of the pet deposit, the tenant had to provide monthly receipts of getting their dogs nails trimmed. They included this receipt with their rental payment.
- Meet the pet. Verify age/breed. (A 10-year old dog is a lot different than a 10-month puppy!)
- Check out social media. You can tell a lot about someone from social media, including their pet. This is a great way to figure out if they are a good pet owner.
- Call up their old landlord. Did they have any issues with the pet?
- Review any written documentation: Has the pet completed obedience school? Are the vaccinations up-to-date?
Some tenant’s do not have a pet upon move in and get one down the road. This is why there should be a clause in the lease for unauthorized pets. If the tenant violates the lease due to an unauthorized pet, they will be fined an initial amount on date of discovery as well as daily until the issue is resolved. If a tenant wants a pet, the lease must be amended adding the pet agreement prior to acceptance. And yes … some pet adoption places will contact the landlord prior to releasing the pet.
Renting to pet owner’s does not have to be scary. You just need an experienced Property Manager to know what to look for and what to add to the lease. Say “yes” (with restrictions) to pet owner’s because the pet owner may be a better choice than the pet-free tenant. You don’t know unless you’re open to choices.