People love their pets and consider them family, including renters. If someone has a beloved pet, they’ll search for a rental property that allows animals.
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.
And if you don’t allow pets at your rental, you may find yourself offering a lease to a renter who will turn you down: a renter will choose their pet over your apartment.
There are other benefits. 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.
Six ways to mitigate the risks of allowing 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:
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.
2. 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.
3. 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 and 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:
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.