Becoming a Pet-Friendly Community: Good Idea, or Asking for Trouble?
By Steve Boudreault, Buildium, Boston, MA
Ah, pets. What to do about pets?
There are all sorts of policies out there when it comes to renting to people with pets. Some properties adopt a hardline stance: no pets of any kind. Some properties only allow pets that are in aquariums or cages. Some allow pets up to and including cats, but no dogs. Some allow dogs, but impose a weight limit on the little guys. Properties that allow Great Danes and Russian Wolfhounds are rare, but are out there. Expect a hefty pet deposit, though.
So what's the story? Why so many different approaches to pets? What are some pros and cons? Read on ...
Having a pet-friendly policy can mean more revenue. Some families treat their pets as full-fledged members of the family, and would sooner live on the street with pet in tow than live someplace that forced them to give the pet up. By advertising a pet-friendly policy, your property can be a shining beacon to those who are finding NO DOGS ALLOWED signs everywhere else they look. And they'll likely spread the word to other pet owners who are looking.
More pets can equal a better community. There are numerous studies out there that show a direct connection between pet ownership and happiness. If you've got happy residents, you'll have a happy property. Everyone wants a happy property. Also, there's a greater likelihood that residents will bond because of their pets, meaning a closer-knit community as well.
Pets can be annoying or downright destructive. Some dogs head straight for the bed when their owner leaves and sleep until they come home, but some dogs will bark all day, ceaselessly, which can be a real headache for neighbors. Some cats only use the scratching post, and some prefer the unit's lovely wall-to-wall carpeting. Even an unstable fish tank that takes a tumble can cause hundreds or even thousands of dollars' worth of damage. Be sure to have a pet deposit in place, and make owners aware of excessive noise.
Some owners can be disingenuous. A new resident may hand over a pet deposit while showing the property manager an adorable teacup Pomeranian, and then after the paperwork is signed, sneak in their Great Dane under cover of darkness. If you suspect the ol' bait and switch, stop by unexpectedly to see how the tenant is settling in and listen for a tiny yip or a throaty woof.
Whether you choose to allow pets in your property is ultimately up to you. Just as you'll find pet-loving families who won't move in without their beloved pup, similarly you'll find families who prefer a pet-free zone, especially those with allergies.
So what's your policy when it comes to pets?