Benefits Pet-friendly rentalsOne of the many important decisions required of a landlord is whether pets will be allowed on the rental property.

Creating a pet policy will either establish that pets are not allowed or establish clear rules about what types of animals are allowed, what fees are required of pet-owning tenants, and rules all pet-owners must follow during tenancy. Your pet policy should be included in your lease agreement, even if you do not allow pets, and reviewed with your renters during lease signing.

Pets cause damage, why would I allow my renters to have one? Great question! It turns out, there are several benefits for landlords who allow pets at their rental properties.

Here’s a look at the top 5 reasons landlords should create a pet-friendly policy for their rental properties.

Widen Your Tenant Pool

By allowing pets at a rental property, landlords have the opportunity to expand the number of potential tenants, increasing their odds in finding the best quality renters. More than 75% of renters own a furry friend, according to an survey. And the majority of these renters (60 %) claim to struggle when finding a pet-friendly rental. If you allow pets at your property, your listing will be the first pet-owners respond to.

Increase Renewals

Vacancy rates are decreasing nationwide, creating a highly competitive market for renters looking to move. Add to the fact, the scarcity of pet-friendly rentals and you have a property that your pet-owning tenant won’t want to let go of.  

Tenant turnover and vacancy can quickly turn a profitable investment into a sinkhole.  Pet-friendly properties will lower your vacancy rate and increase your renewals. In an analysis of landlord surveys by FIREPAW, Inc., tenants with pets were found to stay significantly longer, by an average of 23 months compared to 15 months.

Make More Money

Consider collecting a monthly pet fee when you accept pets at your property. This is different than a pet-deposit, which can only be used to repair damage caused by the pet. Instead of a pet deposit, landlords can ask their tenants to pay a monthly fee or pet-rent if they choose to keep a pet on your property. Pet fees are non-refundable and become income off of your investment. Even a $20 pet rent/month will add up to $240 in additional income each year.

A pet fee should be in addition to a pet-deposit – just make sure to check your local laws about how much, if at all, you are allow to collect for a pet-deposit or pet fee.

Protect Your Property

When you allow pets on your property, your pet policy provides protections against pet damage in the way of a pet deposit, liability coverage through renter’s insurance, and established rules and expectations regarding pet behavior. If you do not allow pets at your property you run the risk of your renters sneaking in an unauthorized pet. Unauthorized pets will cause damage and have the potential to hurt people on your property, all of which the property owner will be responsible for if the tenant leaves.  

By allowing pets on your property under certain conditions outlined in your lease and pet policy you decrease the occurrences of unauthorized pets. You can ask your tenants to issue a pet deposit to cover property damage (if allowed by your state laws).

Additionally, when you collect a significant pet deposit from your tenants ($200+) they will be more likely to prevent pet damage because they have money on the line.  If you simply collect a non-refundable pet fee, your tenants have no monetary incentive to prevent pet damage.

Improve Your Reputation

Pet-friendly properties gain the support of their community by creating pet policies that save animals’ lives. In an article by CNN,  San Francisco animal welfare nonprofit SF SPCA states there’s been a surge in owners abandoning their pets due to an inability to find pet-friendly housing.  Unfortunately, landlords are being blamed for these instances of animal abandonment as the reason for a lack of pet-friendly housing.  

While it is up to every property owner to make their own decision as to the reason they want to allow pets or not, we have to pay attention to the positive effect a landlord can have in offering homes to pet-owning renters  and their pets.

How Much Damage Do Pets Actually Cause

In the FIREPAW, Inc. study, 85% of landlords permitting pets reported having some amount of pet-related damage at some time.  But in most cases, the cost of damage was covered by the required pet deposit and the homeowner experienced no real loss.

In reality, the data suggests there is little difference in damage between tenants with or without pets.  In this FIREPAW, Inc. study, the biggest differences in damage from tenants with pets and those without was under $40, with an average for $323 in damage for tenants without pets and average of $362 for tenants with pets.

Ok pets don’t sound that bad, now what?

Having a clear pet policy, outlined in your lease agreement, will help minimize risk and establish clear expectations about acceptable animal behavior in your rental property.  A good pet policy provides the foundation for charging more rent from all tenants, collecting a pet rent or an additional fee on top of the monthly rent, and asking for a pet deposit to cover any cleaning or damages.

With more potential applicants, it is even more important to screen your tenants.  Beyond a standard background and credit check for your tenants, landlords can do additional screening for pet owners.  Pet screening can include requiring applicants to submit references, vet records, obedience training certificates and proof of renters insurance with pet coverage.