Your Complete Landlord Guide When Your Tenants Want to Rent With Pets

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67% of Americans own a pet. Today, pets aren’t just animals, they’re family members.

Most pet owners only rent apartments or homes that are pet-friendly. That means landlords who have a ‘no pet’ policy have a narrower range of prospective tenants than those who let tenants rent with pets.

If you want to grow your pool of applicants, then you need to consider opening your properties for tenants to rent with pets. You’ll have a greater pool of quality applicants and an easier time finding tenants for your properties.

No matter how cute, cuddly, and friendly a pet can be, there are risks. You must establish policies, and guidelines for tenants who rent with pets and drafting a pet agreement.

Are you thinking about allowing tenants to rent with pets? Here’s what you need to know about pen renting and how to plan for people with pets.

The Growing Acceptance of Pets

As more people adopt a furry, feathered, or scaly friend, more businesses are becoming pet-friendly.

Many bars and restaurants have opened their doors to welcome both two-legged and four-legged customers. Hotels offer pet packages for both you and your pet to enjoy. Natural pet food and pet care stores are booming—businesses are

With so many people who have pets, it’s becoming almost discriminatory for businesses to not allow pets in their businesses. You turn away nearly half of your potential customers.

The lesson here? If you want to keep your business—or property—growing, you should consider allowing tenants rent with pets.

Why You Should Rent with Pets

You already know that opening your property to pet owners is a great way to grow your applicants and have an easier time filling empty units.

Having a wider range of applicants increases your chances of finding a quality tenant. It costs money to own a pet, so many pet owners at least have a job or some form of reliable income. Of course, there are exceptions so always run a background and credit check on all potential tenants.

Renting to pet owners can grow their income. Most places have a pet rental fee or additional deposit in case of damages. If there are no damages, you’ll have a little extra income.

Pet owners also tend to rent for longer periods than tenants without pets. If all goes well, they’ll be more likely to renew their lease. By not needing to find another tenant, you’ll save time and money.

Have you ever had a tenant who snuck a pet into their apartment without you knowing? People with pets are likelier to communicate with you that they have a pet.

Finally, pet owners are happy tenants. Pets, particularly cats and dogs, can reduce stress and make people feel happier. Who doesn’t like renting to a happy tenant?

The Risks of Renting with Pets

Despite the many benefits of opening your property to pets, there are several risks.

The biggest worry for any landlord is damage to their property. Cats, dogs, and other pets can scratch, chew, and leave stains. An accident with a large aquarium can leave tremendous water damage.

Loud pets can disturb neighbors leading to complaints and unhappy tenants. You’ll also want to check for tenants with pet allergies.

Most pets shed or leave behind odors. If your tenant doesn’t do a great job of cleaning up after their pet, you’ll have to do extra cleaning to remove fur, stains, and odors from the unit.

Not all pets are well-trained, despite what your tenant might tell you. There’s the risk that a pet might injure another tenant or passerby. Without the proper insurance or paperwork, you could be liable for that person’s injuries.

Planning for Pets

Before you open your property to tenants who want to rent with pets, you’ll need to do a lot of planning.

Start by checking your insurance and homeowners association (HOA) to see if there are any pet restrictions. Most have restrictions on certain dog breeds, dog sizes, and the number of pets. 

Make sure you have an insurance plan that covers dog bites or other pet-related injuries. It’s recommended that you request your tenants to purchase renters insurance that covers their pets, too.

If all the above is good-to-go, then you can start making your property pet-friendly. To cut costs, you’ll want to make a few improvements to your units.

Invest in durable flooring. Carpet is easy to damage and will need frequent replacing. Instead, invest in vinyl, linoleum, or stain-resistant wood flooring.

Prepare the yard with landscaping and a fence. Section off areas for a “pet-bathroom” to keep your yard clean. Add a potty bag dispenser and garbage to encourage pet owners to clean up after their pets.

Have a Pet Agreement

A pet agreement includes the policies and responsibilities of the tenant and the landlord. The agreement is usually part of the lease and lets tenants know they must follow these rules if they want to continue their tenancy.

A pet agreement also reduces the risks and protects you if an issue should arise. You can add as little or as many rules and responsibilities you want in your agreement.

1. Screen Pet Owners & Their Pets

You already screen potential tenants to find if they’re a good fit for your property. Well, you should screen their pets, too. You’ll get to know the pet and lower the risks associated with renting to pet owners.

Start by hosting a pet-interview to meet the pet and study their behavior. You’ll also learn about the tenant’s responsibility and how they handle their pets.

Ask the tenant questions about:

  • Their pet’s behavior
  • Age
  • Size and breed
  • Licensure
  • The pet’s training
  • Any aggression
  • Vaccinations
  • Spayed or neutered
  • How the pet gets along with other people and pets
  • Fleas
  • Who’s responsible for the pet
  • Care for the pet when the tenant is away

Take a photo of the pet to keep on record.

2. Limit Pet Breeds & Sizes

There are pros and cons of limiting dog breeds and sizes. Many rentals will have breed and dog size restrictions to minimize the risk of damages or injury to others in the apartment. Some places only allow small pets such as birds, hamsters, reptiles, fish, small dogs, and cats.

However, there are many well-trained large dog breeds and many poor-behaved small dog breeds.

In this case, use your best judgment. If you plan to screen the pet and pet owner, you’ll get a good idea of how the pet and pet owner behave.

Another popular restriction prevents tenants from renting with “dangerous dog breeds,” such as pit bulls or Rottweilers. This is a controversial topic but landlords have the right to ban certain breeds from their property. Fair housing laws only apply to humans, not pets. 

If you’re unsure whether you want to limit breeds, base your decision on the pet and pet owner’s behaviors over the breed.

3. Higher Rent & An Additional Security Deposit

Most rental properties charge a higher rent for pet owners as well as request an additional security deposit. This prevents you from losing income if there are any damages or legal issues due to the pet.

When tenants who rent with pets move out, you’ll need to do extra cleaning and repairs compared to those who don’t have pets. Before you rent a unit to another tenant, you should clean out all pet dander and allergens from the floor, air ducts, and vents.

The higher rent and security deposit can help cover that. You also have the right to make the security deposit refundable or non-refundable.

4. Tenants are Responsible for Their Pets

Tenants who rent with pets should be responsible for their pets. This is a clause or policy you should add to your pet rental agreement if you haven’t already done so.

Have tenants agree that they will keep their pets under control at all times to prevent disturbances and injuries to others. They should clean up after their pets in communal spaces, in their apartment, and other areas of the property.

Consider including these responsibilities:

  • Pet supervision outdoors
  • Don’t leave pets unattended for unreasonable amounts of time
  • Keep pets in pet-appropriate kennels, cages, or tanks
  • Pet owners must have liability insurance

5. Be Flexible

As you become accustomed to having tenants with pets, you may consider making changes to your pet policies. You may welcome more pets or prohibit others depending on your experiences.

In your pet agreement, always state that you have the right to change policies with a 30-day notice for tenants. If you don’t want to include every tenant with pets in a new policy, you can include a “grandfather clause.” This clause exempts tenants who already live in the building from following the new policies.

Be flexible, within reason, with your pet-owning tenants. This will keep them happy and your property safe and clean.

Ready to Welcome Tenants with Pets?

Welcoming tenants who rent with pets is a great way to grow your income, find quality applicants, and have happier tenants. By planning for pets, you can enjoy the benefits of owning a pet-friendly property with fewer risks.