United States

Pros and cons of allowing pets in rental properties

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Young woman smiling and petting her dog while resting on couch

Looking for ways to increase demand for the properties under your management?

Property managers needing to fill rental properties may want to consider a creative strategy outside their usual tool box – and that is talking to landlords about allowing pets in their rental properties.

The American Pet Products Association reports that 70% of US households have a pet, and a substantial 72% of pet-owning homebuyers would pass on their dream home if it didn't accommodate their furry friends.

Not only do pet-friendly single-family rentals open up a larger pool of potential tenants, but they can also generate additional income for landlords – and hence additional percentage-based income for the property manager on non-refundable pet fees or additional pet rent.

Depending on the size, type, and number of animals, rental properties can fetch between $25 and $500 in one-time pet deposits and fees, or between $10 and $100 per month in addition to the regular rent. Check your local regulations before charging – some states limit how much can be charged for pets, while some ban pet deposits completely.

Assuming charges are allowed, these funds can be used towards any damage that might be caused to the property by a pet, such as scratched floors or chewed furniture – as can a refundable pet deposit. Extra cleaning may also be necessary to remove pet hair and other debris.

But while you may be able to recover these costs on behalf of the landlord, the time needed to repair pet-related damage could require a longer vacancy period before you can get another renter in. Additionally, pets have the potential to cause a public nuisance. For example, excessive barking or aggressive behavior may lead to tenant-neighbor disputes that landlords and property managers seek to avoid.

For these reasons, it’s understandable when property managers and property owners are hesitant to allow pets in their rental properties.

It's important to note that the decision isn’t always up to the property owner. Service and emotional support animals don’t count as pets and are protected by the Fair Housing Act. Reasonable accommodations must be made for tenants with disabilities who require assistance animals, and extra fees or deposits cannot be charged.

First discuss the risks and benefits with your clients, who are likely to have their own opinions on allowing pets in their properties. To make pet-friendly rentals work for you, your landlords, and your tenants, it's important to set guidelines and rules for pets in the lease agreement. These could include limits on the number, type, or size of pets allowed, requirements for pet insurance, or additional pet deposits or rent.

With a clear pet – or no pet – policy in place, you can ensure that everyone is happy or at least in the clear, and that your property is protected.

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