The Pets in Rentals Debate: Should Landlords Allow Them?

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Understanding the Pets Debate

Whether or not to allow pets in your rental property isn’t a cut and dry question. After all, nearly half the population looking to rent has pets, so offering them a pet-friendly option can be a serious benefit to you.

At the same time, pet-related damage to your rental can eat up some of the profits you gain by becoming the go-to property renter for a family with pets. To understand what matters most to you, consider some of the common pros and cons of allowing pets.

Pros of Allowing Pets:

  • Pet owners, by having to find pet-friendly apartments, often will stick with a lease that has a pet-friendly clause, promoting tenant retention.
  • If the pet causes no damage or little damage, all of the pet rent or fees are additional income for you.
  • There is a chance residents will sneak in pets anyway. This way, you will have an understanding of which units will be housing pets up front. Not only should this help limit surprises, but it will better allow you to take stock of which properties might have taken potential pet-related damage.

Cons of Allowing Pets:

  • Other tenants may decide to leave if they are disturbed by the animals you allow on the premises or if they have a dog or cat allergy.
  • If your tenants don’t control their animals appropriately, you can be held liable in some circumstances.
  • Your apartments may have a strong odor or physical damage to them after the pets have lived there.

Distinguishing Assistance Animals and Pets

One crucial factor is that, if a tenant provides a doctor’s note explaining their need for an assistance animal, that animal has a different standing than a pet. To abide by the Fair Housing Law, you must allow service/assistance animals to stay with their owners without a pet fee.

If you worry that there will be damage, you can charge a pet security deposit, but it will have to be returned if the assistance animal causes no damage. Your decision of whether to allow pets is independent of these animals.

Adding a Professional Pet Addendum on the Lease

Make sure you get the correct legal language added to your lease regardless of whether pets are or aren’t allowed; this is part of making sure that your pet policies aren’t discriminatory. Even if you suspect that some kinds of pets or particular renters will be more likely to return the rental without pet-related damages, you must have an equitable policy regarding pets.

Make it clear in your lease whether pets are or aren’t allowed, how many are allowed in the spaces you rent, and what the schedule of fees are. You may also want the right to terminate the lease if the tenant isn’t keeping up his or her end of the pet agreement.

Create a Fair Fee or Pet Rent Rate

Just as you set a rental rate, set a fair pet rent/fee rate. Look into what other similar rentals charge pet owners, and consider whether there are many pet-friendly rentals in the area.

If most people are desperate to find a place that will allow pets, you may find yourself with an eager pool of applicants who will pay a slightly higher than the average fee, given the demand exceeding the supply of pet-friendly rentals.

At the same time, remember that the higher the fee, the more likely tenants are to try to sneak in a pet, so keep the price fair so that applicants will be honest.

No Pets Means Less Maintenance, but Smaller Tenant Pool

Plenty of investment property owners opt to say no to pets. After all, there are some serious maintenance issues, and pet dander/hair can stay in an apartment even if you’ve cleaned it very thoroughly.

Avoiding those maintenance projects makes a lot of sense! However, understand that limiting pets also limits your pool of applicants, which may mean having to work hard in other areas—amenities, competitive rent, etc.—to woo the smaller portion of the tenant pool who do not have pets.

How PM Companies Can Help You Solve the Pet Conundrum

As you can see, there are both upsides and downsides to the issue of allowing pets. Luckily, when you’re renting in the Dallas area, you can partner with an experienced property management firm who can help you tip the scales on the pet debate.

Their experience with various kinds of rentals will help you decide whether a pet-friendly route makes the most sense for you. To learn what Uptown Dallas Properties can do to help your rental property, get in touch with us today.