PET GUIDANCE FOR RENTAL PROPERTIES
Pet Starter Facts
Pets are almost a fact in life. According to 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA), over half of all Americans own a pet, and the number is only going up. The downside is the absolute wreckage that pets can leave in their wake. Cats, dogs, fish, ferrets, guinea pigs, and as mentioned previously the occasional peacock, fill the American Household, and yes, occasionally destroy that same building.
Most landlords don’t allow pets for these very reasons. Repairs, noise complaints, dog remnants on the street all add up to a distinct lack of likability to property owners. While disallowing pets means lowered costs after a tenant moves out – or even during their tenancy – it also means longer periods of vacancy and a reduced pool of rental applicants. With over half of all Americans identifying as pet fans, that means an incredibly lowered amount of people are willing to even consider a place that would ban pets in the first place.
As landlords credit check, they have a choice to make when considering the state of their property. You need to know how to deal with pets, one way or another.
Pet Deposits Guidance
When it comes to pets, the first defense a landlord has is its pet fees. This can mean pet rent, pet deposits, or other non-refundable pet fees. Most tenants should be responsible pet owners if they have pets at all. For those that aren’t, charging standard pet rent or fees can make up for any damages.
It’s possible to make an extra $300 per month by charging pet fees if not more. The fees can build up to a nice little cushion should any tenant turn out to be irresponsible or leave damage behind, but with the majority knowing how to take care of their little bundles of love, this leaves landlords with some extra equity to enjoy on their own.
All the fees and rent, and deposits add up to a tidy sum, with multiple thousands of extra income each year. With the right kind of screening of both person and pet tenants, allowing four-legged fur babies on your property ends up being a gold star for everyone around.
Types of Pet Fees
Types of Support Animals
Most service animals are dogs - or occasionally a horse - trained for a specific purpose.
Emotional support animals can be a variety of species and breeds. Verifying documentation can be difficult.
Support Animals of All Kinds
If the extra equity from pet deposit, fees or rent isn’t up for you, there may still come a time that you have to accept emotional support or service animals anyway. It is legally required to make exceptions to standard rules for service animals or emotional support animals. You can learn more about emotional support animals in our review here, but what’s important to know is that sometimes, you may not be able to say no to an animal even if you want to.
A support or service animal covers a broad range of animal types. Most true support animals are dogs – and occasionally horses – that are trained for specific purposes. The first that comes to mind for most people are seeing eye dogs that can help the blind. There are also mobility service dogs that help people with limited physical abilities do anything such as retrieving water bottles from the fridge, turning lights out, etc. Emotional support animals have more varied species and breeds but can be just as important. While you may have a no pet policy, these are animals you may be forced to put up with. On the bright side, these are often very well trained animals. Read our piece on the different support animals here to make sure you’re up to date.
It can be easier to think of all support animals as serving a disability, just not the specific disability you were expecting. For more details, consider contacting a lawyer to go over the specific laws in your county, city, and state.
The Average Cats and Dogs
If you ask people about pets, their mind goes to two immediate categories: the YouTube playlist classic of felines with more attitude than size, or the happy go lucky bundles of barks ready to fall face-first to greet you. Thankfully, because cats and dogs are so popular, there are a lot of ways to manage their more destructive instincts.
It’s pets like cats and dogs that are thought of first, from shedding to scratching to pet waste on the streets. Because these particular pets are so popular and allow a wider pool of rental applications, there are several ways to create policies that serve and encourage responsible pet parent tenants.
Ask them to keep up with trimming their dogs’ nails. Cats with proper amounts of scratching posts shouldn’t cause claw damage or can have ‘nail caps’ to limit the actual amount of scratching in the first place.
Tenants are Responsible for:
Dealing with Aquariums
Aquariums are home to anything from snakes to craps to spiders. Find out what is going in it and if its dangerous.
Some tenants may think because it's not a dog, it doesn't count. Remind them aquarium-based animals are included.
Aquariums and their Contents
There are a lot of aquarium-based animals but the first that come to mind are fish. When most people hear about pet fish, they think of starter pets. A small bowl with a goldfish, or a tank with a few colorful sets of fish swimming around, fish are thought of as easy and relatively risk-free.
That isn’t always the case. While fish aren’t likely to scratch up walls or leave behind urine stains in carpet, when a tenant carries an aquarium up to their space, there can be other problems involved.
Consider adding fees for larger tanks. Ask your tenant how much the aquarium will weigh, and what is going in it. It’s only natural that the larger the tank, the more that it weighs and the bigger or more animals will be inside.
If you have a ‘no pet’ policy, remind your tenants that this includes fish and other aquarium-based animals. You don’t want to deal with snakes escaping their enclosures or crabs snipping at people’s ankles.
Animals You May Not Have Considered In the First Place
There is a lot more to the world than the standards of cats, dogs, and fish. Hamsters, guinea pigs, snakes, turtles, rabbits, and chinchillas are just the start to the long, long list of animals that people can have as pets. Every pet in the world has its downside – but at least with a renter, they’re not likely to bring tigers and lions into the mix. Most of these smaller pets can be kept in enclosures of varying sizes, with a limited amount of water, smell, and weight that do make them better contenders for rented spaces.
Guinea pigs are an apartment favorite, as they’re quiet, small, and are happy to chew on nibble toys or cardboard instead of walls. Ferrets can have a smell in the same way that cats do. While snakes and turtles may require water or heat lamps, but most likely these tanks will weigh a lot less than that of fish.
Once you have decided how you want to handle pets, it’s time for your next step. Check over your current pet policy and make sure that it is up to date. See that you have written down what you want tenants to be responsible for when it comes to scratches, stains, smells, or escaped reptiles.
Other Kinds of Pets Mean:
Now, let’s move on to getting a tenant screening background check. Check out our how-to guide on getting a credit check on tenants and their background. After that, see that you’re developing the best questions for your pre-screening interviews along with our tenant screening guidance.
Make sure you’re properly questioning your potential tenants from their background to their pet care. Register your account here for all of ApplyConnect’s no cost tenant screening tenant screening solutions.