The Dos and Don’ts of Rental Pet Policies

System - Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Why don’t some landlords allow pets? As a landlord, you want to do everything possible to protect your investment, and sometimes, renting to tenants with pets add all sorts of headaches that aren’t present with tenants who don’t have pets.

So why rent to pet owners at all? First of all, there are lots of them. Second, those pet owners love their animals and will always choose pet over property. Essentially, by choosing to ban pets from your property, you’re shrinking your pool of prospective tenants, and you could face higher vacancy rates — which landlords want even less than they want pets.

To help you navigate the pet issue as a landlord, here’s a look at key considerations and how to draft a pet clause in a lease agreement that helps protect your interests.

Create a Strong Tenant Screening System

Many landlords find themselves asking: Should I allow a pet in my rental property? That's not always the right question to ask, though. Perhaps a better one is: Am I securing the right tenants for my property? Good tenants are always going to take better care of your property than less than ideal ones, which is why tenant screening is so important. 

Start with good tenants, and you shouldn’t have a problem. You can add in other protections, such as limiting pets to dogs of a certain weight, but starting with great tenants should deliver results no matter what your rental pet policy includes.

Should I Allow Cats and Dogs in My Rental Property? 

Fortunately, there are a number of tools that landlords can use to protect themselves against the damage a pet can render in an apartment or other property. One way is with additional pet fees that help offset your risk. As mentioned, most people adore their pets, and they will understand the additional cost of keeping them on site. Consider a higher security deposit for people with pets, too. This will give you additional funds to cover any pet-related damage after a tenant moves out. You can also consider a “pet rent” that is just money added on for the presence of each pet during the life of the agreement.

All of this should be outlined in a pet lease addendum, a pet rental agreement or a similar document. Make sure you're clearly outlining expectations and policies before the tenants move in. Also, if a tenant has a pet without permission, whether to avoid fees or for some other reason, this should mark a serious violation. It's essential to know about the presence of pets, so you can best manage your property.

Be sure to check your insurance policy for restricted or “dangerous” dog breeds, and include those same restrictions in your pet policy. Many insurance companies levy large fees if the presence of a specific breed is detected, and that is something you will surely want to avoid.  

Get Support from Harrisburg Property Management Group

Need a sample pet policy? Wondering what to include in a rental policy? At Harrisburg Property Management Group, we can answer these questions and provide the expert support you need when you own properties in Harrisburg, Mechanicsburg, and the surrounding areas in PA. Renting to tenants with cats and dogs is an added challenge, but it’s one you can overcome with the right know-how. 

Contact us today about our management services and expert guidance for your property. 

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