Should Landlords Accept Tenants With Pets?

One of the interesting discussions I have with property owners is about pets and whether they should accept them. It is a hot topic, so I thought I would lay out the pros and cons and some of the things you can do to offset the potential risk of accepting pets.

60% of Americans Own Pets!

To start you need to understand that about 60% of Americans have pets. If you decide not to accept pets, you are eliminating almost two-thirds of the population as potential tenants. Also, if you have a high-end single-family home that number may be as high as 70% to 75% of families are going to have pets.

If you own lower end properties or student housing that percentage might be lower. But either way, if you do not accept pets, a large chunk of the population is not eligible to rent your property.

Pet Owners Tend to Stay in Apartments Longer!

Pet owners tend to be very good tenants in that they tend to stay longer. Because it’s difficult for pet owner to move or find another place that accepts pets, they are going to stay at their current property much longer. Obviously, that helps with turnover and with repair costs so it’s better to have longer term tenants.

Pet Owners Tend to Make More Money and Make Better Tenants

Pet owners tend to make more money than non-pet owner tenants. Because owners of pets have pay for food, vet bills, and all the other stuff pet owners buy it indicates a higher disposable income than non-pet owners. Higher incomes should allow them to afford higher rents and be able to offset any short term financial trouble.

Charge Extra Rent and Security Deposit

You should make more money with accepting pets. We charge an extra $25 per month, per pet. If the tenants have two pets, then we would charge an extra $50 per month of rental income. We also charge an extra $300 per pet in security deposit. It is refundable if the place is perfect when the tenants moves out, but if pet does any damage then we have additional monies to be used to make repairs. Also, if the carpets were not clean when they left, one of the things we will be using the $300 security money for is to clean and shampoo the carpets.

Use Pet Addendums to Lay out the Pet Rules and Regulations!

We recommend that you should have the tenants sign a full pet addendum. The pet addendum lays out all the rules and regulations of owning a pet and the ramifications if they don’t take care of that pet.

Do Not Accept Aggressive Dogs

We do not accept any aggressive dogs. If tenants own a bull dog or other aggressive dogs we would not recommend accepting them. Additionally, I would not accept dog that are over 50 or 60 pounds as they are adding a lot of additional risk for your building and other tenants or neighbors. One of the reasons for this is most property insurance companies will void your insurance if you accept aggressive or large dogs.

Professional Shampoo Carpets Once the Tenants Move Out!

We require pet owner tenants that they must professionally shampoo the carpets when they leave. They must pay for the cleaning and provide us a receipt proofing the cleaning was done. If for some reason they were not to do it, then again as I mentioned earlier, we’d use that extra $300 in security to have the carpets professionally shampooed and cleaned.

Hard Wood Floors and Pets?

One major concern is hardwood floors. If you have a property with hardwood floors, accepting pets is a real risk factor. We do recommend mitigating the risk by requiring that they have rugs over some or all the hardwood floors. But either way, if you have hardwood floors, it is an extra risk and make sure it is worth having a dog in the property with hardwood floors.

Service Animals are NOT Pets!

It is very important that everybody understands is that a service animal is not a pet. If you decide to not accept pets, that’s fine. But if the tenant has a service animal you cannot decide to accept to decline a tenant based on a service animal. So just make sure you’re aware of that as an owner that a service animal is not a pet.