Investing in rental properties is perhaps one of the most lucrative real estate investment strategies in the business. However, one of the biggest challenges for every landlord is tenants with pets. One fact that a real estate investor cannot deny is that a pet is a part of the family. Therefore, you can’t expect tenants to leave behind their pets only to be able to rent your property. So, for this matter, you want to make sure you invest in pet-friendly rental properties. Having a solid pet policy in place is an important first step in protecting your rental from the potential damage that can be caused by pets. What goes into your pet policy comes down to you, so it’s important that you carefully weigh the pros and cons of allowing pets into your rentals as well as understand best practices for setting a pet policy. Here is how to set the best landlord pet policy.
Include a pet agreement in the Lease
You can reduce the additional risks created by having pets on your property by creating smart pet policies, putting them into a pet agreement, and including the agreement as part of your lease. As such, your lease should refer to the pet rules and incorporate them as part of your lease. This provides notice to tenants that their continued tenancy depends on honouring these rules. Require that all tenants sign the pet agreement, even non-pet owners. That way, if a tenant gets a pet later, they already know what the rules are and what is expected if they want to stay on the property.
How to set the best landlord pet policy
Identify the types of pets allowed
First, your pet policy for renters should specify what types of pets are allowed. This means specifying details such as how many, what types, and even the size. Common types of pets are dogs, cats, birds, fish, reptiles, rabbits, hamsters, and gerbils.
Make sure tenants are responsible for their pets
Your pet policy should also list the responsibilities the tenant has towards their pet once they are living in your rental. For example, all pets should have the required shots and identity tags. Check your local laws to determine the vaccines and licenses required. Other things you should include:
- All dogs will be on a leash at all times outside of the rental.
- Other animals, such as birds, reptiles, rabbits, and hamsters, will be appropriately caged.
- The tenant is responsible for cleaning up after their pet inside the property and outside.
- The tenant is required to pay for any damage their pet has caused.
- Require the tenant to get renters insurance with liability coverage.
Pet screening as part of your pet policy
Just like when you are selecting your tenant, you should screen the pets that come into your property. You won’t be able to do anything as comprehensive as a background check, but you can certainly ask the tenant some pointed questions. Questions to ask prospective tenants about their pets:
- Where did you get the pet?
- How long have you had the pet?
- How old is the pet?
- Are they house trained?
- Have they ever caused damage to a property?
- Has the pet ever bitten a human?
- Who is primarily responsible for caring for the pet?
- Who will care for the pet when the owner is not home?
- Does the animal have the proper vaccinations and licenses?
Meeting the animal is important, firstly, because you will be able to check if the tenant is lying to you about the animal. You will also want to determine as much of the following as possible:
- Is it aggressive or friendly?
- Is it trained?
- See how the tenant interacts with their animal, does it listen to them, are they close, and does the tenant discipline it if it misbehaves?
One fairly common method landlords use to protect themselves from pet damages is to get them to pay a fee for having their pet on the property. Most tenants understand why and are happy enough to pay if they get to keep their pets with them. This can take the form of pet fees, a pet deposit, or even pet rent. It’s worth noting that while general security deposits are legal in every country, separate pet fees are only legal in some. You will want to check with your local country’s laws for more information. If your country does allow you to charge a separate pet fee in addition to the security deposit, determining the cost may depend on a variety of factors, including the type of pet, size, and value of the property.
Just like protecting yourself from bad tenants doing your due diligence when it comes to allowing pets will help protect you from possible damages and extraneous expenses that are associated with having animals on your property. You should always state in your pet policy that you have the right to make changes to the pet agreement. Remember to give proper notice, at least 30 days. This protects you in case, for example, you decide not to allow dogs in the future. By defining your pet policy in writing from the very beginning, your tenants will understand what is expected of them as pet owners. Moreover, it’ll highlight the consequences if they do not follow the rules.