Should Landlords Allow Pets in Rentals?

Real Estate

 

Benefits of allowing pets in rentals
Risks of allowing pets in rentals
Make sure your insurance allows pets in rentals
How to make your property pet friendly
How to screen tenants with pets
How to add a pet addendum to your lease agreement
What to include in a pet policy for renters
Tenant requirements to include in a pet addendum
Should you charge a separate pet deposit, pet rent or pet fee?
People love their pets. So much, in fact, that many pet owners won’t even consider a rental property that isn’t pet friendly. According to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2018, 46% of renters live with pets — and 47% list allowing pets as a requirement for their next rental.

While allowing pets in your rental property gives you access to a broader pool of potential tenants, it also comes with additional risks. Because of this, planning ahead, establishing rules and requirements, and creating a pet agreement are essential for landlords who are renting to tenants with pets. If you find yourself wondering, “Should I allow pets in my rental property?”, then you’re in the right place.

Benefits of allowing pets in rentals
There are many reasons to allow pets in rentals, including:

A larger pool of applicants. Many applicants are only interested in renting a house with petsand won’t even consider applying if you have a no-pet policy. If you allow pets, your rental will appeal to a larger audience and help ensure you find a great renter for your property.

Increased rental income. Many landlords who allow pets charge a pet deposit, pet fee or additional pet rent each month. And if there aren’t any pet damages, you’ll end up with additional rental income.

More renewed leases. Since pet owners often have a harder time finding a rental than those without pets, you may find that pet owners renew leases more frequently than renters without pets. Renters with pets fill out 1.6 times as many applications, on average, than renters who don’t own pets.

Reliable tenants. Since pets require maintenance and attention, a pet owner may be more likely to show the same care and responsibility when it comes to your rental property.

Happier tenants. Animals are known to reduce stress and can help a property feel like a home. Over a third (37%) of renters are single or never married — but 46% of renters have pets.

Decreased chance of unknown pets. Tenants are more likely to be upfront about their pets if you allow them from the start. You’ll have fewer instances of tenants sneaking pets onto the property and will be aware of the type and number of pets living on-site.

Risks of allowing pets in rentals
However, allowing pets in rentals does come with risks. There’s a chance your tenant’s pet may:

Damage your rental property. Animals like dogs and cats can chew, scratch and stain the surfaces in your rental. But any pet poses a risk — even an aquarium can cause damage if there’s an accident.

Disturb the neighbors or other tenants. If there are multiple units on the property, or if there are neighbors nearby, noise can be a concern.

Leave unwanted odors. Occasionally, pets can leave odors behind. From accidents to fur or hair, your rental may require extra cleaning to get rid of unpleasant smells.

Bother tenants with allergies. For multi-unit rentals, you’ll need to be aware of potential allergies among other tenants. This could be an issue in shared spaces like hallways or yards.

Injure a person or animal. As a landlord, you don’t want to be held liable for injuries caused by your tenant’s pets. Make sure your tenant has proper renter’s insurance that covers animal bites on the property.

Make sure your insurance allows pets in rentals
So you’ve weighed the benefits and risks and decided to allow tenants with pets. Before you do, you’ll need to ask your insurance company and homeowners association (HOA) if they have any restrictions or disclaimers about renting to tenants with pets.

Know what animals are restricted
Some insurance companies and HOAs have restrictions on certain breeds (or weights) of dogs, such as:

Pit bulls
Rottweilers
Doberman pinschers
Chows
Akitas
Alaskan malamutes
German shepherds
Siberian huskies
Saint Bernards
Wolf hybrids
The type of restrictions will vary depending on the HOA or insurance company. Make sure to check with your agent or HOA board and see what restrictions they have, if any.

Require adequate renter’s insurance
Be sure you are covered in the event of any injuries that may be caused by the animal. You’ll want to require tenants to purchase renter’s insurance and show you their policy to ensure it covers dog bites and other injuries.

How to make your property pet friendly
You can help minimize the costs associated with maintaining a pet-friendly property by making these improvements before renting to tenants with pets:

Install durable flooring. Linoleum or vinyl won’t collect pet hair, and they are more stain- and odor-resistant than carpet.
Landscape your yard. Consider designating a section of your yard as a pet potty area and covering it with small rocks or mulch.
Install a fence. A closed-off area will allow your tenant’s pet to play without worry of escape.
These minor changes will make your property desirable to pet owners, as well as make it easier for you to clean.

How to screen tenants with pets
You screen a tenant to determine if they’re a good fit for your rental property — by screening their pets, you’ll be able to help mitigate some of the risks associated with renting to pet owners. Before you approve the applicant and sign a lease, conduct a pet interview so you can:

Meet the animal in person and confirm that it’s well-behaved and friendly.
Take the pet’s picture and keep it for your records.
Ask tenants specific questions about their pets.
What to look for when meeting pets in person
When you meet an animal in person, you can observe its behavior and ensure it’s well-trained. You’ll also want to make sure the applicant is responsible, making note of whether they have necessary items like a leash and waste bags with them.

Questions to ask tenants with pets
How many pets do you own?
What is the pet’s breed and size?
How old is the pet?
How long have you owned the pet?
Is your pet properly licensed?
Has your pet ever acted aggressively toward another animal or person?
Are you solely responsible for your pet?
Is the pet trained?
Does your pet have all of its necessary vaccinations?
Is your pet spayed or neutered?
Does your pet get along with other people, children and animals?
Who looks after your pet when you’re away?
How do you control fleas?
How to add a pet addendum to your lease agreement
A pet addendum, sometimes called a pet agreement, is a document added to your lease agreement that requires tenants to abide by the specified rules, regulations and pet policies. By signing a pet addendum:

The landlord gives the tenant permission to live in the rental property with the animals specified.

The tenant agrees to be responsible for the pet and any damage caused by it.

If you allow pets in your rental, you’ll need to include the following in your pet rental agreement:

Pet policy
Tenant responsibilities
Pet rent amount
Pet deposit amount
Non Refundable pet fees
Zillow Rental Manager offers free customizable online lease agreements for select locations, which can be customized to include the type, gender, name, breed, weight and license number of a tenant’s pet.

What to include in a pet policy for renters
Create a clearly written pet policy — as part of your lease or as a separate pet agreement — that limits your liability if an incident with your tenant’s pet should occur. In a Zillow lease agreement, you can customize your landlord pet policy by listing the animal’s type, gender, name, breed, weight and license number. You’re also able to specify details about any required pet insurance or pet fees, if pets are allowed.