Common Landlord Pet Questions
Over 70 percent of renters have pets. If you don’t accept any pets, your pool of applicants will be much smaller. To help you make up your mind, we’ve rounded up answers to common questions landlords ask about pets.
Why should I allow pets? Accepting pets allows you to attract the broadest pool of possible renters to each vacant unit, rather than choose from the smaller pool of renters without pets. Since pet owners have experienced difficulty finding pet-friendly rentals before, they may be more likely to stay in your apartment. Reducing turnover keeps your costs down and creates community. Finally, if your community is a renter’s market, this change can help you fill vacancies and make units profitable. As you can see, there are many benefits to allowing pets.
What if the pet damages the apartment? Tenants are responsible for their pets. If a pet causes property damage, you may use the security deposit to repair the damage. You may also collect a separate pet deposit, which can be used for pet-related damage. Some landlords collect pet rent, which is an extra fee per month. Whatever you decide to charge, be transparent about pet-related expenses when advertising your apartment.
What about service animals? Landlords cannot charge pet deposits or rents for service animals, since the Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on ability. Emotional support animals, which need not undergo any training, are not covered by the Fair Housing Act. Thus, you do not need to treat an emotional support animal any differently from a standard pet.
How will renting with pets affect landlord or property manager duties? Ideally, renting with pets won’t affect your landlord responsibilities because pet owners will be responsible. Issues may occur. However, these can be mitigated by a detailed pet policy that mandates rules such as quiet hours, waste pickup and disposal, and more.
Do I have to accept all pets? You do not have to accept all pets if you decide to offer pet-friendly housing. You may wish to limit dog breeds based on municipal restrictions (if any exist), if your homeowners insurance premiums would go up based on pet breed, or for any other reason. You can also meet any potential pets and approve or deny them based on what makes you comfortable. For instance, if a dog seems aggressive when you meet, it could cause problems for other renters. Thus, it’s in your best interest to deny the applicant.
If you decide to allow pets, put together a landlord pet policy that explains your policy regarding pets. When you have a comprehensive policy in place, you can look to the policy to make consistent decisions. A pet policy may cover number of pets allowed, size or breed restrictions, rules and requirements for pets, and more.
To stay up to date with pet agreement information, consider becoming an American Apartment Owners Association member. Members receive discounts, educational webinars, low-cost landlord forms and much more. Find out more or join today.