Pros & Cons: Allowing Pets in Your Rental Property

Written on Friday March 9, 2018 by Bob Hinrichs

Allowing pets in rental property

Do you have a rental property? Are you struggling to decide whether or not allowing pets in your rental property is a good idea? You’re not alone. This is a hugely important decision landlords are facing today. While the final call is up to you, we’d like to provide you with some food for thought. Below are two lists – pros and cons – that can help you decide what is right for your property.

Pros of Allowing Pets

Being pet-friendly can help your rental property stand out from the masses.

With the internet being a common way to search for housing these days, filters like “allows dogs” or “allows cats” can quickly dwindle down the list for prospective tenants. Your property will be easier to find amongst pet owners.

You can rent to a larger group of people!

According to a survey done by Apartments.com in 2014, 75% of renters have a pet. This easily becomes one of the top reasons to allow pets; you may not want to close yourself off to 75% of the prospective market.

You will maintain long-term tenants.

Because housing can be tough to find in the rental market when you have pets, once tenants find a place that is pet-friendly, they are more likely to stay there. Most pet-friendly rentals require a non-refundable pet deposit. This mean renewing their lease can actually save them more money than moving to a slightly cheaper unit.

Mentally, people associate pets such as dogs and cats with families.

Just by allowing furry friends in your rental units, people will perceive your property as being good for their family! Family-friendly atmospheres give a sense of safety, which everyone desires. You could see a quick increase in occupancy of your units.

You can charge higher rent to pet owners.

There’s two main reasons you can do this. The first is just simple economics. If your property is in an area where less rentals allow pets, the supply for pet-owner housing will be low and demand will be high. This means you can absolutely ask for “pet rent” to increase the costs for those with furry friends. The second way you could charge more is if you provide pet amenities. Even if you’re battling against other “pet friendly” communities, you can increase your rent and still set yourself apart to prospective tenants by including pet amenities such as dog parks or pet washing stations. This added convenience will usually be well worth the increased cost of rent to your tenants.

Cons of Allowing Pets

Pets often cause property damage.

Let’s face it! The most obvious downfall of allowing furry friends in your units is the damage they can cause. Not all pets chew where they’re not supposed to or have accidents inside; however, any type of claws constantly going across the floors will lead to some wear and tear. You can limit damage by using weight restrictions, but if you allow pets, it’s unavoidable.

Pets can smell!

This goes right along with the damage argument. Not all pets will create a strong or long-standing odor, but some pets (like cats or birds) can leave a very distinct stench behind that can be off-putting for future tenants viewing the property.

Pets – in particular dogs – can cause a greater mess in common areas.

Because dogs use the bathroom outside, it can cause cleanliness issues for other neighbors trying to enjoy these spaces. Landlords can limit these issues by providing dog waste receptacles and clean-up bags for residents to use; however, these receptacles will need to be emptied frequently to be effective, which will require a bit more maintenance.

Another annoyance to neighbors can come from noisy animals.

Beyond their messiness, some pets are also noisy. As you know, birds sing and dogs bark as well as run across the floor, causing noise for the neighbors below. This can lead to very frustrated tenants and cause higher tenant turnover if the problem isn’t resolved.

Some pets can increase risk of danger to staff and residents.

Our first instinct when we think about pet dangers is for our brain to jump straight to dog bites. Certainly, this is a valid concern. If staff has to enter a unit for emergencies, showings or routine repairs, they could be attacked/hurt if the pet isn’t properly contained. Other tenants could be harmed while dogs are out for a walk if the owner doesn’t keep the leash on or warn others of their dog’s temperament. But more than just biting or scratching risks, the dander itself caused by pets can actually be just as harmful to others who have serious allergies. Depending on the person, this could cause serious itching or even breathing trouble.

Because of these exact risks, insurance premiums can go up!

Since there is greater risk associated with pets (to people and to the property), the property owner’s insurance rates will often jump when pets are allowed. This can be mitigated slightly in some cases if the landlord restricts “traditionally aggressive” breeds from the property, but even then, it may not impact the premiums substantially.

One Exception to Your Choice

Regardless of the pros and cons, it’s important to know that there is one situation in which you will not have a choice on whether or not to allow a pet in your property. When it comes to prospective tenants with service dogs (which may also include certified emotional support animals), it is against the law to deny them residence regardless of your pet policy. These pets are seen as a disability aid and if you’re reported for denying an applicant because of their pet, you will face serious legal consequences.

In any other situation, the decision is entirely up to you. As you can see, we can go back and forth with the positives and negatives that come with being a pet-friendly property, but at the end of the day, you must do what is best for your given situation.

Please keep in mind that this article’s content was solely designed to provide information and should, by no means, be considered direct advice for any particular situation.

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