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It’s Time to Paws and Reflect on Renting to Pet Owners | By: Renters Warehouse

It’s Time to Paws and Reflect on Renting to Pet Owners

By: Renters Warehouse


These days, it’s not unusual for pets to be considered a key part of the family. In light of this new status, it’s not surprising that40 percent of those who keep family photos in their wallet also have pictures of their pets in there too. From luxury pet clothing to breath fresheners for dogs – each day there are new ways for us to find to spoil our furkids.

Given this absolute devotion to our pets, it’s understandable that many renters who have animals are unwilling to part with them due to non-pet-friendly accommodation. Would-be tenants with pets will often opt for alternatives, like paying more in rent, or even choosing to stay in a rental that may not have been their first choice to avoid giving up their furry friends.

According to theAmerican Veterinary Association, nearly one out of every two renters in America own pets. That’s an enormous number of potential tenants that non-pet-friendly landlords are missing out on!

Opening up your rental to pet owners can help you draw from a larger pool of potential tenants, allowing you to rent your property out faster. You must however, consider the drawbacks to welcoming Fido and his humans into your rental. The risk of property damage - and the idea of receiving numerous complaints from the neighbors about rabid, barking dogs is sometimes enough to dissuade landlords.

Regardless, there are plenty of landlords who rent out their units as pet-friendly and do so with great success. Should you consider making your rentals pet-friendly? Before you decide, here are some of the pros and cons associated with bringing pooches into your properties.

The Benefits of Allowing Pets

  • Higher Rental Incomes

According to a 2011 study of the condo market in theJournal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, landlords who placed no restrictions on pet ownership enjoyed an 11.6 percent rental premium over landlords who didn’t allow pets. Consider checking out other available rentals in your area to see if pet-friendly accommodations are going for more.

  • Longer Tenancies

Landlords who allow pets often enjoy longer tenancies from their renters. Tenants with pets were found to stay longer than tenants without pets by an average of 46 months, according toa 2005 Firepaw study, despite higher rents for this opportunity.

  • Lower Vacancy Rates

The same study also found that the vacancy rate for pet-friendly housing was significantly lower than rentals that didn’t allow pets. Landlords also rented their properties faster, spending less than half the usual amount of time marketing their pet-friendly accommodations.

  • Larger Tenant Pool to Draw From

Less than 10 percent of rentals have no pet restrictions, according to Firepaw. The study also found that landlords with pet-friendly accommodation received twice as many applications for a vacant unit, offering them a much wider tenant pool to choose from, and allowing them to select the very best applicants.

The Risks of Renting to Tenants With Pets

  • Property Damage

Dogs and cats can cause damage –scratching the doors, chewing the floors, and having accidents on the carpet are just a few of the adventures that unattended, improperly trained or nervous pets can have.

  • Increased Liability

Increased liability is another concern for many landlords. It’s worth noting however, that most states have strict liability statutes which hold dog owners, not landlords, responsible for the behavior of their dogs.

  • Increased Insurance Costs

Pet-friendly landlords can face higher insurance costs. For example, duringthe Firepaw study, pet-friendly landlords reported an average annual insurance premium of $150 more. Check with your insurance provider to see if this will affect your rates, but do keep in mind that these expenses can be recovered easily in rent premiums.

  • Risk of Physical Injury

With dogs, especially large breeds, there’s always an increased risk of physical injury –to other residents, visitors, and even the landlord. This is one reason that some landlords impose size restrictions on animals. Smaller breeds can, and do bite, but the risk of serious injury is much lower when the dog is small.  

  • Potential Complaints From Neighbors

Another concern that landlords have include complaints about noise, although these complaints may be less common than you think.According to Firepaw, only about a third of landlords have ever had issues with noise related to their pet-owning tenants.

  • Allergies

Future tenants can be allergic to animals, and a rental that’s had tenants with pets may require significant cleaning or even renovations to make it suitable for tenants who are environmentally sensitive.

Reducing Risks

Consider raising the security deposit to cover any potential damages that may be caused by pets. Just be sure to check your state’s legislation first, to make sure you’re within your rights to implement pet-related fees. Note that there may be limits on how much you can charge for a security deposit.

Consider charging a monthly pet fee, or outlining what pets are allowed in your rental –such as size restrictions, limits on the number of pets, or requirements that pets much be spayed or neutered.

If you own a multi-unit complex, consider taking extra precautions and requiring that all pets be up-to-date on vaccinations. You may also want to require health and obedience-training certificates. These measures can help reduce your chances of ending up with a dangerous or improperly trained dog.


Special Consideration for Service Dogs

While the decision to allow pets, or not to allow them, is at the complete discretion of the property owner, there’s one situation where the landlord cannot refuse to rent to someone with an animal. That is, in the case of an applicant who has a disability and requires a service animal.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, service animals including guide and signal animals are not considered as “pets.” Landlords who have a no pets policy can’t refuse to allow a disabled person to have a service dog.

There are plenty of benefits to opening up your rentals to pets, but there are just as many arguments against it. It’s important to do your research to help make an informed decision - one that’s best for both you and your property.

While a “no pets” clause in the rental agreement may seem like a simple solution, keep in mind that there’s really no such thing as a risk-free tenant. While pets can inflict a tremendous amount of damage to a property –tenants can easily cause just as much damage, even more, on their own. Make sure you have an airtight tenant placement process to screen applicants, or hire a reputable property management company to do this for you. Careful assessment is the key to reducing the chance of damage, from both humans, and their furry friends!