What You Should Know When Renting to Pet Owners

Introduction

Americans are completely obsessed with their feathered and fur-kids. In 2014, they spent roughly $58.04 billion on their pets. That’s a lot of kibble and chew toys! As for where it impacts you – dear reader – according to the American Veterinary Association, nearly one out of every two renters in the U.S. has pets as a part of their household.

It’s understandable that these renters aren’t willing to part with their beloved animals due to non-pet-friendly accommodations. Potential tenants who have pets will often choose alternatives like paying more in rent, or even opting to stay in a rental that may not have been their first choice–all to avoid giving up their pet.

To be a Rent Estate™ owner today means that you’ll need to evaluate whether or not you wish to rent your home out to pet owners. To refuse this segment is to turn away a huge percentage of potential tenants resulting in a smaller pool of potential renters. Your property may sit vacant much longer than pet-friendly accommodations in your area.

But what about the potential drawbacks to putting out the welcome mat for Fido? The risk of property damage–and the thought of non-stop complaints from the neighbors about barking dogs is often enough to put landlords off the idea.

Still, there are plenty of landlords who rent their units as pet-friendly – with great success. Should you go ahead and make your rentals pet-friendly too? Before you make this decision, this guide will help you be better informed. You’ll learn all about:

Americans Spent $58.04 Billion on Pets in 2014

Click to Tweet

The Pros and Cons When Renting to Pet Owners

Pros Cons
Solid potential for higher rental income Property damage
Longer average tenancies Increased liability
Lower vacancy rates Increased insurance costs
Larger tenant pool to choose from Risk of injury
  Potential complaints from neighbors

The Benefits of Allowing Pets

While it may seem daunting, there are many people out there who are successfully renting out their beloved homes to pet-owners without much fuss or struggle. Here are a few benefits that come with opening up your home to furry friends – and their owners.

Solid Potential for Higher Rental Income

A 2011 study of the condominium market in the Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics found that landlords who placed no restrictions on pet ownership were able to enjoy an 11.6 percent rental premium over landlords who did not allow pets. Consider doing research into other available rentals in your area to see if pet-friendly accommodations are going for more that your current asking price.

Solid Potential for Rental Income

Longer Tenancies

Longer Tenancies

Landlords who allow pets often enjoy average longer tenancies from their renters. Tenants with pets were found to stay longer than tenants without pets by an average of 46 months, according to a 2005 Firepaw study. This is despite a higher rent being collected for the property and proves that people will be loyal, stay and pay when their pets are accommodated.

Lower Vacancy Rates

The same study also found that the vacancy rate for pet-friendly housing was significantly lower than “no pets allowed” rentals. Rent Estate owners also rented their properties faster, spending less than half the usual amount of time marketing pet-friendly accommodations.

Lower Vacancy Rates

Larger Tenant Pool to Draw From

Larger Tenant Pool to Draw From

The same study also found that the vacancy rate for pet-friendly housing was significantly lower than “no pets allowed” rentals. Rent Estate owners also rented their properties faster, spending less than half the usual amount of time marketing pet-friendly accommodations.

Pet-friendly accommodations receive 2X as many applications

Click to Tweet

Risks of Renting to Tenants With Pets

We’d be lying if we said that renting to pet-owners is all fun and games (or fetch and play)! There are several considerations to take into account before opening up your space to that Daschund with the sweet eyes–but very sharp teeth.

Property Damange

It’s clear that dogs and cats can cause damage–scratching the doors, chewing the floors, and having accidents on the carpet are just a few of the exploits that unattended, and improperly trained pets can have. There are costs associated with the cleanup and repairs to be factored in when making the decision to allow destructive animals into a rental home.

Property Damage

Increased Liability

Increased Liability

Increased liability is another concern for many members of the Rent Estate Club. 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. You do have the responsibility to report a dog that is dangerous and may be responsible for anything that should occur if the dog is under your care and an incident should happen.

Increased Insurance Costs

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

Increased Insurance Costs

Risk of Physical Injury

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. It’s important for you to screen the animal yourself in order to assess their temperament and behaviour within the home.

Potential Complaints From Neighbors

Another concern that landlords have is complaints about noise–even though noise complaints may be less common than you think. According to Firepaw, only about one-third of landlords have ever had noise problems. Modern buildings are quite soundproof and many animals eventually settle down after a short bout of barking or meowing.

Increased Insurance Costs

How to Minimize Risks and Concerns

Given the risks and concerns that property owners may have in renting to pet owners, there are several steps that can be taken to alleviate some of these potential issues. Sit. Stay. Don’t run away from the idea of pet-owning tenants.

  1. Consider raising the amount of the security deposit to cover any potential damages.
  2. Consider charging a monthly pet fee or pet deposit. For a one-year lease, 71 percent of pet owners surveyed by rent.com said they’d expect to spend $200 or less on a pet deposit. 29 percent would spend more than this amount. Just be sure to check your state’s legislation first, to make sure you’re within your rights to implement pet-related fees. There may be limits on how much you can charge for a security deposit.

    71% of pet owners expect to spend $200 or less on a pet deposit.

    Click to Tweet
  3. Outline what pets are allowed in your rental –look at size restrictions, limits on the number of pets, or stipulations that pets must be spayed or neutered.
  4. Add a ‘Pet Addendum’ to the lease when allowing a pet in your rental home so your agreement will be in writing and on the books. Building detailed parameters into your rental agreement will help to ensure everyone is on the same page. Ensure you use clear language to indicate the number of pets allowed as you may end up with a menagerie in your rental if not specified outright! With multiple pets, you could request an additional deposit to stay on the safe side.
  5. 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 a health certificate and obedience-training certificate. These measures can drastically reduce your chances of ending up with a dangerous or improperly trained dog causing trouble for their neighbors.
  6. Ask for a pet resume when screening pet-owning tenants.
  7. At move-in, make sure to validate the pet information the tenants provided to confirm that they are indeed the proud parents of a proper poodle and not owners of a hateful husky.

What to Look for on a Pet Resume

What to Look for on a Pet Resume

Pet resumes are an ideal way for potential tenants to provide wary landlords with all of the necessary details on their much loved animals. It’s also a great document for landlords to reference in order to see if they’re about to give shelter to a good canine or feline citizen or if they will be harbouring My Cat From Hell or need Cesar Milan on speed-dial.

Mention of Age, Breed, Temperament

While everyone loves a great headshot of a smiling Goldendoodle, it’s important not to be swayed by a pretty face. Stick to what’s important, but remain flexible in your evaluation. Be it a puppy or an older dog, the risk is still present for howling from separation anxiety no matter the age. Don’t judge a dog by its breed either. While some may have a bad rap in the press, they may have been raised well and are perfect sweethearts. Temperament is the key. Work with the owner to determine if they are anti-mailman, don’t play well with children, have a nervous disposition or are just generally mean.

Past Behavior

Have they lived in a previous rental before? What was that experience like for the animal, for their owners, and for the previous landlords and tenants? Get an idea of how they were in previous locations and be wary should it seem like a move was spurred because of the pet’s behaviour.

Training

Any formal animal training listed on their resume? Are they house-broken? Do they know any basic commands? Do they need training? Knowing if they have been trained gives you the confidence in knowing that your property and the neighborhood won’t be disrupted when Fido moves in.

Hobbies

What do they like to do? Are they active or fairly sedentary? What is their schedule like? How often do they take walks? What time(s) of day? Is the owner active and do they meet the pet’s needs? A high-energy dog cooped up all day in a kitchen is a recipe for disaster.

Health

Is the pet up to date on their vaccinations? Any health concerns to be aware of? What is their grooming schedule? You don’t need to have a flea circus moving in with you!

References

Check in with previous landlords, neighbours or roommates who can vouch for the pet’s character. See if they have any concerns about noise, damages or behavioural issues.

Special Considerations for Service Animals

Service animals are an essential element of many households and are not considered pets according to the Fair Housing Act. This means that landlords cannot discriminate against tenants who own such animals and “no pets” policies or any other pet restrictions cannot be used to deny or limit housing to those who require an assistance animal.

The best website to consult for information on service animals and your rights and responsibilities as a landlord is Service Dog Central. Sure it may be a little biased towards man’s best friend, but much of the information relates to all other service animals.

Landlords cannot discriminate against tenants who own service animals

Click to Tweet

Conclusion

When you look at the question of to rent to pet-owners or to not rent to pet-owners, there are as many benefits to opening up your rentals to pets as there are arguments against going this route.

It’s essential to do your research ahead of time in order to 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, or more, all 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 property damage, by both humans, and their four-legged friends!

Contact Renters Warehouse today for quality tenant placement–both two and four-legged alike! We vet all potential candidates so you don’t have to, leaving your more time to go for long walks, fill up on tasty vittles, play frisbee and enjoy your free time. Hey! If humans don’t get nine lives, we’d better live this one fully!