FACT: People love their pets and consider them family
FACT: renters are people.
People search to find apartments and rentals that allow pets, in fact, 68% of households do, they love fido, which means that they’ll be ready to work diligently to find a home for him too.
As a landlord or property manager, consider the idea of renting out a pet-friendly property.
By allowing pets, you widen the pool of prospective renters, which makes it easier to rent your property.
Landlords can make slightly more income by charging a nonrefundable pet deposit, pet rent, or a similar nonrefundable fee. And since it can be difficult to find rentals that allow pets, renters with pets may sign longer leases, as well.
The key to allowing pets in your rentals is to mitigate the risks, which includes potential damage to carpets, walls, and other parts of the property; physical injury to neighbors or yourself, caused most often by large dogs; possible noise nuisances; and the presence of allergens and dander that get in the air ducts and carpet.
If you’re thinking about making your rental unit pet friendly, put some restrictions in place, such as allowing pets of a certain size and weight. or certain breeds.
Here are six things to keep in mind when renting to people with pets.
1. Add a pet addendum to the lease
Ask your renters to sign a pet agreement, attached to the end of the lease, that specifies the type of animals you allow in your rental. Have renters fill it out completely before moving in.
Here’s a sample template from Zenlord Pro:
PET ADDENDUM TO LEASE AGREEMENT
This Addendum is made on [ MONTH DAY, YEAR ] between [ LANDLORD’S NAME] (Landlord) and [TENANT NAME ] (Tenant), and is understood to modify the Residential Lease for [ PROPERTY ADDRESS ] (Premise) originally dated [ MONTH DAY, YEAR ].
Landlord grants permission to renter to keep the domesticated pet(s) on the Premise during the term of the Lease. Landlord may revoke permission at any time if renter fails to comply with any of the terms and conditions in the Lease or subsequent Addendums.
- SERVICE ANIMALS
Service, Guide, Signal, or Support animals are not “Pets” according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as long as the animal is being used by the renter to support a disability or handicap, or the renter is training the animal(s). Additional information on Service Animals and subsequent rights and protections can be found on http://www.hud.gov.
Is the tenant’s pet actually a Certified Service Animal or in training to be a Certified Service Animal? : ___ Yes, ___ No.
- ANIMAL PROFILE
Type of Animal: Dog, Cat, Bird, Rabbit, Pig, Reptile, Fish (circle all that apply)
Name of Animal(s): ________
Weight of Animal(s): ________ (lbs.)
Breed of Animals(s): ________
Age of Animal(s): ________
Spayed or Neutered?: ___ Yes, ___ No
Current on Vaccinations?: ___ Yes, ___ No
Posses Current Animal Licenses?: ___ Yes, ___ No
2. Require that the pet be spayed or neutered
Animals that have been spayed or neutered usually behave better and have a calm personality. Neutered males don’t feel the need to roam and engage in fighting, mark their territory, or display inappropriate sexual mounting. Spayed females won’t go into heat, which often causes them to bleed, urinate more frequently, and yowl loudly to attract males.
You can ask your renter to show proof that their pet has been “fixed,” which can be as simple as the bill from the veterinary clinic for the procedure.
3. Ask for references and screen the renter and their pet
When it comes to allowing pets at your rental, ask for references from potential renters. I recommend calling former landlords to ask about the behavior of the renter’s pet, and if the pet caused any damage to the walls, carpet, or other parts of the rental property.
Also ask about the renter as a pet owner. Some dog owners may have a well-trained dog, for example, but don’t let them out of the house enough or regularly clean the yard after the dog has relieved themselves.
4. Collect a larger security deposit or a separate pet deposit
In most states, landlords are allowed to charge a pet deposit, which is similar to a security deposit in that the money can be used to pay for any damage or problems caused by the pet. If the pet does not cause any damage, the pet deposit, like a security deposit, is refundable.
I require that all renters with pets pay for a professional carpet cleaning. Some people also tack on air duct cleaning, which removes pet dander and allergens, so future renters won’t be affected.
5. Charge higher rent or charge a separate pet rent
Landlords can often make more money by renting units that allow pets, given that there may be more competition for units that allow pets. Many pet owners are also used to the idea that they may have to pay a little more in exchange for having a pet.
You can charge pet rent, or other additional, nonrefundable fees for allowing pets—even a fee for large-breed dogs or dogs that weigh over a certain weight limit.
But don’t get carried away. By allowing pets, especially large dogs, landlords can charge a premium in the rent. But if you nickel-and-dime your renters with pet fees, prospective renters will find another rental, even if the rent is more expensive.
6. Evaluate personality over breed
Some animal breeds, like pit bulls, have a reputation for being violent, aggressive, or troublesome.
That said, there’s a lot of misinformation on the internet about so-called “dangerous breeds.” Don’t rely on stereotypes and clichés. Many animals misbehave due to mistreatment, neglect, or a lack of socialization or discipline from their owner.
If you have a prospective renter with a pet, try to meet the pet before agreeing to rent to them. If the pet appears friendly and mellow, or even shy simply because you’re new to them, it’s a good sign.
“No pets” lease clause
If you still don’t want to allow pets in your rental, include a clause in your lease prohibiting pets.
Here’s a sample clause you can use:
ANIMALS. No animals (including mammals, reptiles, birds, fish, rodents, and insects) are allowed, even temporarily, anywhere on the Premise unless Landlord has provided authorization in writing. If authorization is given, renter(s) may have to pay a non-refundable pet fee or increased security deposit amount. A service animal will be authorized for disabled (handicapped) renter(s) upon written request and proof of disabled status and need for accommodation.
There are certainly pros and cons to allowing pets in your rental properties. If you do allow them, it’s wise to charge renters for the privilege since the possibility of damages becomes greater when pets are introduced. But which is best between pet fees, pet deposits, and pet rent, and what should you charge?
Whether you choose to allow pets or not is totally up to you—with the exception of service or companion animals (you must allow those).
Pets could damage your property, and they could become nuisances to neighbors. But you can probably charge more for your rental property if you allow them.
Renters with pets also tend to stay longer as well: 46 months on average instead of 18 months, according to a survey conducted by FIREPAW, Inc.
If you don’t allow pets, there’s always the chance that your renters will sneak them in anyway.
If you want to allow pets but aren’t comfortable with certain kinds, you can restrict the types of pets you allow. You might allow only cats and small dogs under 25 pounds, for example. You can also restrict the number of pets you allow, such as no more than two pets.
DECIPHERING THE FEE’S?
If you do allow pets, you’ll probably wonder whether you should charge a pet deposit, pet fee, or pet rent and what the differences are.
Good question! LETS EXPLORE THEM.
Pet deposits (REFUNDABLE) and pet fees (NONREFUNDABLE)
A pet fee is simply the one-time admission price to have a pet in the rental. It doesn’t typically cover any damages the pet might cause. We have a nonrefundable cleaning fee of $200 for ours.
If you charge a refundable pet deposit, you need to return it if there’s no pet damage when the renter moves out. If there is damage, you need to send your renter an itemized list of how much you spent to repair the pet damage, which justifies keeping all or part of the pet deposit—just as you do for a security deposit.
What about pet rent?
Pet rent is a different story. We charge $50 to $100 in pet rent. This is case specific.
It is simply an additional amount of money added to the regular rent, and this practice is becoming more popular. The amount of pet rent could vary based on the number and type of pets allowed.
By only charging pet rent (in lieu of a pet deposit or fee), you can significantly increase your monthly revenue.
Should you charge a fee?
The security deposit brings up the question of whether you should even charge a pet deposit or pet fee at all. After all, you can use the security deposit to cover damages a pet causes if you don’t charge a pet deposit or pet fee.
In some states, if you do charge a pet deposit or pet fee, you can’t use the security deposit to cover pet damage. You use the pet deposit or pet fee for that.
Given that the security deposit is generally more than the pet deposit or pet fee, you’re limiting yourself if there is major pet damage. So, many landlords don’t ever charge a pet deposit, even if they can. They just lump it all together into a simple “security deposit,” which is also easier to explain.
What should you charge?
Landlords have a lot of options when it comes to fees and pets; they could mix and match any of the following:
- Regular rent
- Security deposit
- One-time pet fee
- Recurring pet rent
- Pet security deposit
While some renters might complain about extra pet rent, pet deposits, or pet fees, many renters are just happy to find a place for their furry, feathered, or scaly friends.
But just because a landlord could charge a plethora of pet fees, doesn’t mean they should. Here’s what we recommend:
Sample pet fee structure:
- Regular rent—market rate
- Security deposit—equal to one to two months’ rent
- Recurring pet rent—$50 a month
Why not a one-time pet fee?
I don’t suggest charging a one-time pet fee on move-in simply because it creates an additional financial hurdle for a renter. When moving from one rental to the next, money can be tight, usually because the renter has to come up with a security deposit and possibly pay for some overlapping rent. If you add in an extra pet fee, you’ll eliminate some otherwise good renters.
Why not a separate pet deposit?
If you charge a pet deposit, you might be limiting yourself if the damages exceed the deposit amount. It’s better to simply charge a single deposit for all damages—regardless of who (or what) caused them.
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