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Home · Property Management · Landlord Quick Tips : Smart Landlord Policies for Pet-Friendly Property Rentals

Want a surefire way to increase tenant demand for your rental? Take down the No-Pets Allowed sign.

The decision about whether to allow pets is a tough one for many owners, and there are no right or wrong answers. But some surveys show that nearly 75 percent of renters own pets. That’s a huge pool of potential tenants to turn away.

Tenants who find a welcoming home for Fluffy are also more likely to stay longer, which can reduce vacancy time. For owners renting their property as an investment, being pet-friendly makes good business sense.

But allowing pets isn’t always the right answer for owners renting out a home they plan to return to. For owners who have pets themselves, allowing renters to keep a cat, dog or goldfish will likely make leasing the home faster and easier. For those who haven’t had pets, keeping the rental pet-free is a reasonable choice.

According to a recent survey by, 9 out of 10 renters said deciding where to live hinged on the landlord’s pet policies. Seventy-two percent of renters said they owned pets.

Protecting Your Property When Allowing Pets

How can you avoid the dog that barks day and night and chews the cabinets, or the kitty that favors the closet floor over a litter box? Finding responsible pet owners is key to protecting your property and neighbors’ sanity.

The Humane Society suggests that landlords check references on both the tenant and their animal, including calling prior landlords, the veterinarian and neighbors to ensure the animal behaves and won’t cause serious damage.

The organization suggests owners limit the number of pets allowed in each unit and approve pets on a case-by-case basis, rather that create limits based on size or breed. The Humane Society recommends creating a pet policy that outlines acceptable pet behavior and requires that all pets be licensed, up-to-date on vaccinations and spayed or neutered.

Deposits and Fees

Beyond policies, landlords often charge extra deposits, fees or pet rent to limit risk and cover the cost of additional cleaning or wear and tear animals can cause to the unit, building and grounds. In the survey, nearly 80 percent of renters said they had to pay a fee or deposit for pets, with more than half paying $200 or more per year.

Be aware of what’s customary in your neighborhood plus local laws when deciding how much of a fee or deposit to charge.

D.C. law does not require that you rent to tenants who have pets. Service animals for people with disabilities are an exception. Under Fair Housing laws, landlords must allow service animals, even if a property is pet-free, and may not charge extra fees or deposits.

Whether you decide to allow pets or not, advertising your policy and targeting tenants most likely to appreciate your decision will help you find the perfect tenant faster.



  1. May 12, 2017

    I allow pets in my rental (a single unit below my house), but there is a caveat in the lease. Pets must be neutered or spayed, vaccinated and they must be taken care of pursuant to the Federal Animal Welfare laws. I retain the right to confiscate any animal that is not. I had one tenant who didn’t do flea prevention or vacuum and his apartment became infested, which threatened my indoor cats a floor above. Consequently, his cat had tape worms and was urinating and defecating all over the apartment–and by the way, cats don’t really like sawdust litter. I took the cat, resolved all of his health issues and found him a new home. I also had the carpets cleaned and told the tenant he could have no more pets ever. He stayed for months and finally moved. Another tenant allowed her dog to tear up the carpets, chew up a windowsill, and destroy a very expensive window treatment. Of course, her security deposit paid for all of this, but I am very careful about who I rent to these days. I want to rent to responsible pet owners because having good places for them to live means that fewer pets will wind up in shelters. As a renter, my landlords always complimented me on how clean and in what good repair I left the units I vacated and I always had a couple of cats in tow. But these days, my questions when interviewing a tenant include their perspectives and experiences with animals. I’ve found that good pet owners and their furry companions are great to have around. Irresponsible, inconsiderate tenants will trash your place, even in the absence of an animal.

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