5 Ways to Mitigate the Risk of Renting to Tenants with Pets

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Many American households own dogs and cats. But surprisingly, there is a shortage of pet-friendly rental properties.

Many landlords are cautious about accepting pets in their rental properties due to affordability, inexperience with choosing responsible pet owner tenants or had a negative experience with a tenant’s pet. They may also have had difficulty getting insurance for accidental pet damage.

Flexibility to rent your property to pet owners increases your chances of renting out your property much faster.

Typically, in real estate, there is great risk and there is also the opportunity for great gain. Here are the pros and cons of allowing pets:

Pros

  • A bigger pool of tenants to choose from
  • Increased income from added rent or pet fees
  • Tenant satisfaction is high and they tend to sign longer leases

Cons

  • Pet damage to the property
  • Noise disturbances
  • Allergens and pet dander in the air ducts and carpet

If you are considering to make your rental unit pet-friendly, it is recommended to put some restrictions in place to lessen the chances of potential problems. Here are ways to do so:

1. Determine what types of pets are allowed

Generally, fish, small birds, and reptiles don’t cause problems.

But what if the tenant has a large exotic animal?

Details in the lease agreement should be very clear about the types of pets that are permitted. Indicate the size restrictions, breed, and the animal’s temperament.

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You will decrease the occurrences of unauthorized pets by creating specific conditions that should be outlined in your lease and pet policy. You can also inform your tenants that there will be a pet deposit to cover property damage.

2. Screen the tenant carefully and get references

It’s important when screening to ask the prospective tenant’s previous landlord about their pet maintenance.

They may have a well-trained dog, but do they clean up after them?

Ask their neighbors about their pet’s behavior to determine whether you can consider renting out to this applicant.

When allowing pets, attach a separate document to the end of your lease for new tenants or for current tenants who want to add a pet to their lease.

3. Charge a higher rent

It is in your best interest as a landlord to charge a higher rent and to add a pet deposit fee.

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While many landlords may be concerned that the extra fee may drive away potential tenants, it is said that two small children are more likely to damage your property than a small, well-behaved pet. Therefore, the extra fee won’t discourage many of them.

4. Collect a pet deposit fee

When you allow pets on your property, make sure that your pet policy provides protection against pet damage. Protect yourself and your property by charging a pet deposit and pet fee. You can also add liability coverage through renter’s insurance. Ensure that you establish clear rules and expectations regarding pet behavior.

Most landlords use the pet deposit to clean the property when the tenant leaves. They can also write in the lease agreement a pet cleaning fee that is included in the security deposit. This will help you defray expenses incurred when cleaning the carpets, upholstery, and drapes as well as the air ducts or any other maintenance work needed.

Alternatively, you can put in the clause that the tenant, before moving out, has to have the property professional cleaned.

5. Require all pets be spayed, neutered, castrated, or otherwise “fixed” depending on the animal.

Animals that have been neutered are generally better behaved and are calmer than those who have not been spayed. This helps with litters and animals marking their territory and avoids having noise complaints.

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By advertising your property as pet-friendly, you will be more than likely to get more applicants and more potential tenants. Aside from the standard background, history and credit check, landlords can also conduct a pet history check. Some landlords also require pet certificates such as obedience training, vet records, and renter’s insurance that includes pet coverage.

In order to minimize and mitigate the risk of having pets, a clear pet policy needs to be implemented. Be specific about acceptable pet behavior in your property. Having a clear pet policy will also provide the foundation for charging higher rent, charging a pet fee and deposit to cover any necessary cleaning or to fix any damages in your Jacksonville property.