I love dogs and have always owned one. Over the years WILMOTH Group has developed specific guidelines to allow applicants to have their dog approved to occupy one of our rentals. This post is about dogs because more applicants own dogs, or decide they want a dog, than any other pet. Dogs also offer the largest variation of potential issues based on the large differences in breed behavior and also human training and interaction. Through fees, insurance, and most importantly, renter cooperation, these risks can be managed. I will be the first person to stand up for the companionship a dog provides and support the value of owning a dog for responsible renters and homeowners.
Risks for Rental Owners
Dogs present two risks the rental owner wants to mitigate:
- Risk to the property.
- Possible threat to people who visit the home.
The final decision belongs to the home owner. It’s their prerogative and we will always honor this decision. Most owners do not exclude pets because frankly, it eliminates a lot of potential applicants. In a market where rental housing is short of demand, taking this approach may not hurt the chances for renting. Most of the time it increases the time on the market to locate a tenant.
The first step to get a dog approved is for the dog owner is to agree to the requirements of the WILMOTH Group Pet Application. If it appears that other parts of the applicant’s application meet the guidelines for approval, the owner is then requested to complete our Pet Application form. This form is for all pet owners but it contains many references that are specific to dogs.
Issues With Certain Breeds
The application is clear that a dog may not be approved if it’s a breed the owner’s property insurer will not cover. We may ask the owner to check with their insurer before proceeding. It’s a good idea that an owner familiarize themselves with what their property insurance states regarding pets in their rental. In all cases the County license must be up to date and all shots up to date.
We have discovered that insurance companies often identify dog breeds they will exclude from liability coverage (for the renter or the owner). In the case of one specific company, their list includes breeds such as Akita, American Bulldog, Beauceron, Caucasian Mountain Dog, Chow, Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd, Great Dane, Pit Bull, Rottweiler, Staffordshire Terrier, Wolf Hybrid. This list is one of the most comprehensive we have seen and it exceeds the basic list we outline as prohibited in the Pet Application. The biggest hurdle commonly for getting a dog approved is the breed of the dog and the ability to adequately cover the liability risk.
Tenant’s Renter Insurance Requirements
ALL owners of dogs must carry renter’s insurance with a minimum liability coverage of $100,000 to include pets. The primary liability both the dog owner and home owner are exposed to is dog bites. Based on the size of the dog, a larger amount of coverage may be requested. For instance, larger breeds typically dictate the minimum liability coverage is $300,000. The need for both the tenant and owner to be insured is part of the process to getting a dog approved.
Finally, upon passing these other tests, we determine a non-refundable pet fee amount to recommend to the owner. The amount of this fee is based on the dog and its characteristics such as size and age. A typical fee is $250 per dog.
A dog can be a great companion for anyone. The best dog owner in the world may never have a bit of trouble with the breeds that insurance companies exclude. As a renter though, they must accept that there are more parties who are exposed to the risks associated with their dog than just themselves. It’s for this reason, I always suggest renters carefully consider the type of dog they wish to obtain before they actually own it. Otherwise, they may find themselves limited in their housing choices.