70% of the households in the U.S. own at least one pet, and nearly 50% of American renters have a pet. If you’re a landlord, this means that allowing pets in a rental can significantly increase the pool of tenants you can select from.
At the same time, though, there are definitely risks associated with letting your tenants have pets in an apartment.
Are you wondering what you should include in your pet policy?
Let’s take a look at some important aspects you’ll want to touch on in your pet policy along with the pros and cons of allowing pets.
What Is a Rental Pet Policy?
Pet policies are provisions within a rental agreement or lease that outlines the rules regarding tenants having pets. It’s always a good idea to make the rules about pets clear in your lease, as it helps to protect both the landlord and the tenant. When the expectations you have as a landlord are clear, it makes for a much healthier landlord-tenant relationship.
What Should You Include in Your Pet Policy?
When you’re creating a pet policy for your rental, you’ll want to think carefully about what you will and will not allow. Some landlords might choose to not allow pets at all to keep things simple. Others might choose to allow pets but only a certain number of pets and restricting the type and size of the animals.
Number of Pets Allowed
There are definitely some benefits to allowing your tenants to have pets, but you might want to set a limit on how many they can have. After all, pets can create wear and tear on a property, and the more pets there are, the higher likelihood they will lead to issues down the road.
Many landlords don’t want to restrict their tenants’ ability to have pets outright, as they recognize that having the ability to have pets is something that attracts tenants to the rental. One way you can deal with this is by asking tenants to get approval before adopting a new pet. This way, you are aware of how many pets are in the apartment rather than being in the dark.
Types of Pets Allowed
You can also outline what types of pets you allow in your apartment. You might only allow cats but not dogs, or you might only allow your tenants to have small dogs such as hamsters or bunnies.
When you’re deciding what type of pets to allow, consider the type of rental you are creating a lease for. For example, if you are renting a rural property with a big fenced yard, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to allow your tenants to have dogs. In fact, you might be able to charge a higher rent and attract a higher quality tenant if you do allow dogs in the rental.
On the other hand, if your apartment is a tiny studio apartment with gorgeous hardwood floors on the 20th floor of an urban building, you might feel that a dog isn’t appropriate for the space.
Another common provision in pet apartment policies has to do with breed restrictions. The reality is that not all dogs have the same temperaments, and some municipalities even have rules against specific breeds. While the first thing that usually comes to mind when it comes to breed restrictions are pit bulls, some landlords might choose to not allow Doberman pinschers, rottweilers, mastiffs, huskies, and other dogs that are considered by some to be potentially dangerous.
It isn’t unusual for pet policies to include a weight maximum for pets. For example, if you’re leasing out a small city apartment, you might feel that it is only appropriate for tenants to have a dog under 30 pounds. Some landlords even use these weight restrictions as a way to essentially impose breed restrictions without having to do so directly.
Monthly Rent Increase or Pet Deposit
You’ll also want to include any additional fees in your pet policy. You might charge a refundable deposit, a non-refundable fee, or an increase in monthly rent for tenants that have pets. You’ll want to check with your state and local laws about the legality of this type of fee before including it in your lease.
If you don’t allow pets at all, you’ll want your lease agreement to state this clearly.
A Note About Assistance Animals and Emotional Support Animals
Even if you include pet restrictions into your lease or don’t allow pets at all, it’s important to understand the federal laws surrounding assistance animals and emotional support animals. Under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), landlords are required to make a “reasonable accommodation” to allow pets that act as emotional support or assistance animals.
It’s also important to note that any associated fees are waived for service animals. Animal breed and weight restrictions also don’t apply to assistance animals, including emotional support pets.
Pets in an Apartment: The Pros and Cons
There are definitely some pros and cons to allowing tenants to have pets in a rental property.
Some of the pros are:
- You can charge higher rent
- Pet owners tend to be longer-term tenants
- You increase the pool of tenants you can select from
- Pet owners tend to be more responsible
Some of the cons of allowing pets in a rental include:
- Pets, particularly dogs, can create unwanted noise in complex or neighborhood
- Pets can cause damage to a property
- Pet odors can build up in the apartment and common areas
- Unstable pets could cause injury to other people
- Loud pets might drive out other tenants
If you decide to allow pets in your rentals, screen them thoroughly beforehand. You won’t just want to screen the person, but you’ll always want to ask them questions about their pet. You can ask them if their pet is licensed, who looks after the pet when they aren’t around, if they are trained, and whether they control fleas and other pests.
Should You Allow Pets in Your Rental?
Whether you allow pets in your rental is a decision only you can make. There are definitely some compelling reasons you might want to have a pet policy that appeals to the largest pool of tenants. At the same time, there are risks to allowing pets that you’ll need to consider before letting your tenants bring pets onto your property.
Are you a landlord that is looking for high-quality property management that can manage pets in the Memphis area? If so, contact us today.