Fluffy Fido or Hound From Hell? A guide to pets in rental properties for Landlords

You love dogs, puppies are adorable, but you have also heard the NIGHTMARE stories of pets destroying rental property and causing thousands of dollars in damage. It is a tough question every landlord must ask themselves…. Will they accept pets or not? Or even cat vs. dog and how big of a dog, what breeds of dogs, cats – don’t they spray?

Hi, I’m Becca, and I make owning and managing rental properties simple and landlord life fun.

If you have a rental property, you can bet the question will come up sooner rather than later. As soon as you get your fantastic marketing flowing (http://rebeccap5.sg-host.com/top-3-tips-to-get-your-rental-home-leased-fast-and-to-the-most-qualified-tenant/ to how to be a rental marketing genius), you will have folks asking to see the home even if you write in big, bold letters on the ad NO PETS.

It’s best to think through your options in advance, make a pet policy, then stick with it. Ask all potential residents about their pets in the pre-screening phone call (LINK) to save you tons of time showing the home to potential tenants who do not meet the criteria.

Can cats and dogs cause major damage? YES! Do I accept cats and dogs? YES!

Wait, what?

I accept cats and dogs because I am a numbers girl who does regular inspections on my properties.

Let me break it down for you by the numbers. The National Association of Realtors quoted a 2017–2018 National Pet Owners Survey, 68% of US households own a pet. Let’s adjust that down to 50% for renters just to be conservative. My average rent is $1400/month and 30 days average on the market. If we eliminate HALF of the potential renters in the market, it’s safe to assume it could take twice as long to rent. That’s $1400 in potential lost revenue, on EVERY home, EVERY time it rents. That’s a ton of lost revenue!

Is it possible that a pet can cause more damage than the deposit and the pet fee (I charge $250/pet)? Yes, but I find if I follow these four steps the damage is rarely more than a few hundred dollars at worst.

  • 1) This is the most important one… Do regular inspections! Every 6 months is best. If a pet is causing damage then you issue the tenant a notice to cure. The tenant must provide you proof the issue has been repaired or face eviction. After a tenant replaces a door frame or two you can bet they are going to crate train their dog!
  • 2) Limit the number and size of pets – I say max 2 pets and no more than 50 pounds
  • 3) Limit the dog breed. This is really important also. Many insurance companies will not allow a renter to have certain breeds of dogs and won’t cover a claim if something goes wrong. All insurance companies are unique but if you want a copy of our Resident Selection Criteria that lists the dogs we consider restricted click here LINK
  • 4) Always use a pet addendum with your lease that lists out the tenant’s responsibilities, pet fee, name/breed/size of pets. You don’t want to approve a chihuahua and later discover the tenant has a pit bull but the lease allows her to have “one dog”. You need to be specific about the pet you approve.

Here is a friendly reminder that service animals and emotional support animals are NOT PETS. Read this guide to ESA’s here http://rebeccap5.sg-host.com/7-super-simple-tips-to-clarify-service-animals-for-landlords/

If you follow the four steps above, you may find that you rarely see major pet damage in your home. That’s the case with me. I manage close to 100 homes, and I have not had a single time the pet damage was more than the pet fee + security deposit. However, if I had limited my renter pool, I would for sure have had lost revenue.