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couple renter dog petsShould you allow pets in your rental property? While pets can do damage to your rentals, there are many good reasons for allowing pets, even if you’re not particularly fond of them. In this post, we look at good reasons for why you would want to lease to renters with pets and reasons for why you wouldn’t.

Reasons for Pets: Numbers of Pet Owners

If you’re not renting to pet owners, you’re missing out on a huge portion of the population. According to the APPA or American Pet Products Association has determined that Americans own 95.6 million cats and 83.3 million dogs. To put that in terms of households, 45.3 million households own at least one cat and 56.7 million households own at least one dog. If you don’t allow pets, you’re missing out on potential renters.

Reasons for Pets: Extra Money in Your Pocket

One of the side benefits many landlords receive is in the form of extra money coming from pet fees and increased rent. Pet owners need places to rent just like tenants who do not own pets. Because pet owners consider their pets as part of their family, most are willing to pay extra pet deposits and even pet rental fees. This equates to money in your pocket and good will toward the landlord.

Reasons for Pets: Stops Surprise Pets

A constant problem landlords face are tenants who “sneak in” their pets. Although tenants claim to be crafty, most landlords figure it out. If you already accept pets, be sure to state in the tenant’s contract that any unknown pets once discovered will cause an upfront pet deposit charge plus the amount of the pet rental fees since the the beginning of the lease. This way, you can be certain that the tenants will be forthcoming about pets.

Reasons Against Pets: Pets Damage Property

The problem most landlords face when a tenant moves out is the cost of replacing and repairing items damaged by pets. This includes replacing carpets, fixing scratches on doors, chewed items, and general damage. This is indeed a potential problem, especially if the tenant has poorly behaved pets. Have pet rent and a damage deposit should be able to mitigate those issues.

Reasons Against Pets: Landlord’s Liability

In some circumstances, landlords have been held liable for aggressive or vicious dogs. For that reason, some landlords have restricted the breeds to what is outside of so-called “dangerous breeds” or even have limited size when it comes to pets.

However, the landlord’s liability is limited. According to Nolo’s legal encyclopedia, the landlord can only be held responsible if the landlord knew the dog was vicious and did not have the dog removed, or the landlord cared for or kept the dog.

If you’re concerned about the potential dogs’ behavior, you could insist that the owner produce a record of the dog’s Canine Good Citizen® title that is awarded by the American Kennel Club or AKC. This title is offered to all breeds and mixed breeds by the AKC and demonstrates the dog’s ability to behave correctly in a variety of different circumstances.

Should You Limit Pets?

It’s very tempting to limit the size, breed, or number of pets. On the plus side, if you limit is size of the dog, the damage may be minimized. Or may not. A poorly behaved small dog or puppy may cause significantly more damage than a large dog that is well behaved.

While it is tempting to avoid dogs on a so-called dangerous dog list, pet experts are quick to point out that it is not the breed nor the size of the dog that causes viciousness. Unless there are laws in your area regarding illegal breeds, having the pet owner provide proof of their dog’s training in the form of certificates of completing training courses, obedience titles, or CGC awards as well as being spayed or neutered should provide adequate proof as to the dog’s behavior. Well-trained dogs that are spayed or neutered are less likely to pose a risk than those that are not.

Lastly, there is a question of numbers. Limiting to one dog or cat may limit the amount of damage, but it also reduces your tenants to single pet owner households. If you wish to capitalize on renting, don’t forget that there are a number of multiple pet tenants who are looking for places to rent. You can have a steady number of tenants thankful that you rent to them when others won’t, and you can charge higher rents, pet rent fees, and extra damage deposits if you do.

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