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Tip 176: Can’t Beat ‘Em?  Join ‘Em!

Despite the overwhelming number of landlords who want to reject every tenant with a pet, the numbers of pet-loving tenants continues to rise.

There is no law that says a landlord can’t maintain a no-pets policy (companion animals are not considered “pets”),  but those who do may see a shrinking pool of qualified rental applicants.

The main objections to pets stems from the vision of urine-soaked carpets, complaints from neighbors over incessant barking, and fears over possible liability if Fido gets too feisty.

These factors can be managed short of an all-out ban on pets in apartments.

Here are a few ways to go pet-friendly without tenants ruffling your feathers:

Consider the finishes in the unit.  Carpet may not be the most economical, nor the most attractive flooring option.  Other options may be easier to maintain.

Make the tenants prove the pet is apartment-friendly.  Ask for a pet reference from a previous landlord, or a local humane society.

Grill the tenant on their daily routine — how often do they walk the dog? Where are they planning to keep the cat box?  Look for signs that they’ve thought this through.  Experienced pet-owners should have no trouble answering questions.

Pad your lease agreement with pet rules.  Make sure that it is clear what the pet can and can’t do.  While companion animals must be given free rein, pets do not have to be allowed in common areas.

Also, stress to the tenant that if the animal doesn’t behave,  it will have to go — or they’ll both be living in the dog house.

Provide the space that animal lovers need to care for their pets — mark out the areas that are okay for play and provide easy access, so tenant won’t feel inclined to walk through lobbies or front lawns where conflicts are most likely to occur.

Ask for additional deposit funds to cover potential losses and give the tenant a reason to take responsibility for their pet.

See last week’s Landlord Quick Tip.

American Apartment Owners Association offers discounts on products and services for landlords related to your rental housing investment, including rental forms, tenant debt collection, tenant background checks, insurance and financing. Find out more at

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