The most common question asked by potential applicants is whether we accept pets. When you are renting a home, it is important to have a plan for how you will respond to this question. How you respond usually determines if the prospect has any further interest.
Identify the Kind of Pet
First, there are many types of pets so the question to ask is what kind of pet? From there determine particulars like breed, age and weight. Dogs and cats are most common but in the last few years we have seen more unusual pets such as birds.
Some tenants do not consider pets like rabbits and parrots in need of mention. Unfortunately these types of pets can often do much more damage. You may only find out about them after the tenant has established occupancy. So you want to make sure your lease is specific about what qualifies as an approved occupant so that action can be taken if you discover a home full of birds flying free.
The Pet Approval Process
Through the years we have utilized several different approaches to determining the approval process for a pet. Today, many insurance companies have exempted certain breeds of dogs and it is important that you check to make sure there is new liability exposure by approving an exempted pet.
Assuming the insurance coverage is not an issue, then it becomes a subjective decision. Owners rely a lot on past experience. If a previous tenant owned a cat that they allowed to do its thing wherever it wished in the home, owner’s might decide to never again allow cats. This of course is your prerogative but it also can eliminate some great tenants.
You might want to consider if there might be a different way to mitigate the risk.
Increase the security deposit or actually create a second pet deposit. Some managers have gotten away from requesting larger deposits. With some people it creates a point for debate at the end of a lease as to whether certain damage is pet related or not. Damage is damage. Increased security deposits are often the best risk mitigator.
Increasing rent is a risk measure that is often a good idea to reflect risk. Paying more rent is applicable whether a tenant poses a greater risk of default or they have a pet that you are concerned about potential damage or liability.
Non-Refundable Pet Fees
Some managers recommend charging a pet fee. This fee can be adjusted based on the type and number of pets. It takes into account a cleaning fee and risk of damage. Since it is non-refundable it is not open to debate at the end of the lease. It is collected at lease signing.
These three options can be used singularly or in some combination. There is no correct answer. As an owner you are attempting to mitigate risk in your investment. If you choose to not allow pets you are eliminating a lot of potential tenants.
It has been said that pets tend to reflect the behavior of their owners. Another consideration when making your decision.
These tools provide your best bet for managing this common issue.