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Tip #270:Caught Off Guard?

The popularity of pets seems to be increasing over time. And that means a greater number of renters are also pet owners. Your pet policy will impact each and every tenant.

Stories of animals left behind in rental properties, like the new tenants who just discovered a 9 foot boa tucked in a couch cushion, or the tenant who left behind 15 cats, are becoming all too common.

An alarming number of tenants are abandoning their animals, usually because the new place won’t allow pets. They think that the landlord will find a good home. In some cases, the tenant neglected to tell the landlord that the pet disappeared during the move and is still hiding somewhere in the apartment.

Regardless of your pet policy, you can reduce the risk of finding an unwanted pet by:

Keeping tabs on tenants throughout the lease term. That way, you’re more likely to discover if they’ve taken in an animal – or a half-dozen.

Scheduling a walk-through with the exiting tenant. Insist that all the tenant’s belongings — including any animals — have been moved out before you do your inspection. Don’t forget to check in the garage or yard. If the tenant skips out, it’s still important to do the walk-through.

Do the same thing again as the new tenant moves in. Make sure there are no signs of life that may jump out and scare your new renters in the middle of the night, or cause safety concerns.

If you do allow pets, be sure to identify the animals residing in your units in each lease agreement so it’s easy to track who is responsible for any incident.

The growing problem of animals abandoned by renters is cause to take a moment and reflect on your own pet policies. Even if you continue to go with a strict no-pets policy, encourage your prospective tenants to be honest about their pet preferences so you choose the right tenants. No one likes creepy surprises!

See last week’s Landlord Quick Tip.

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