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Should You Allow Pets in Your Rental Property?

by Sharon Vornholt on January 16, 2012 · 80 comments

  
pet policy for landlords

This has been a subject that has been debated for as long as I can remember; whether or not to allow your tenants to have pets. What I have always found, is that it really doesn’t matter what your policy is. They are probably going to bring them whether or not you actually allow pets.

When I bought my first couple of rental properties, I was very clear that I didn’t want pets in my houses. I didn’t want to have to replace the carpet after each tenant because of pet damage.  It was always in the lease, and I always discussed my policy with the tenants. I learned pretty quickly, that there is a segment of the population that will agree to anything in the lease while they continue to do whatever they want to do.

Pet Damage

While having to replace the carpet was the biggest problem and the biggest expense, pets can do many types of damage to your property.

They have:

  • Chewed the corners off cabinets
  • Chewed the vinyl flooring in kitchens and baths especially at the seams and doorways
  • Doors, window sills and screens have been damaged by clawing and chewing
  • One tenant removed the receptacle covers to paint, and the dog chewed a hole big enough to go into the next room.

Re-thinking my policy

It didn’t take very long for me to figure out as a new landlord, that my “policy” wasn’t working. So I had to either be unhappy all the time, or change my policy. That’s what I did. I changed my policy.

If you don’t allow pets, you will lose a certain group of potential tenants before they even look at your house.  Those folks that love their pets almost as much as they love their children won’t rent your property in most cases if they can’t bring their pets. That may be a choice that some landlords make.

What is even worse in my opinion is that some of these same folks will just say they don’t have any pets and bring them anyway upon hearing you don’t allow pets. When this happens, you often end up with a lot of damage you didn’t count on having to repair. And, you won’t have that damage deposit to help pay for it.

How I solved the problem

In the end, each landlord has to decide for himself whether or not to allow pets in their rental property.

Ultimately I decided to allow pets since the tenants always ended up with them anyway. If I told them that their pets were welcome that gave me the opportunity to charge for them. I could also have “the talk” with the tenants. I wanted them to understand that while the pets were welcome, they would be responsible for any damage that they did above and beyond the upfront or monthly fees I charged. They were also told that they were getting a “flea free home” to move into, so if there were fleas when they moved out, those charges would also be their responsibility.

Another thing that I did was to make some changes in the lease. I put in clauses that said that if they acquired a pet after they moved in that wasn’t on the lease, they had to pay the entire up-front pet fee plus the additional monthly fee of $20.00 from the beginning of the lease. What this did was lead to a lot of confessions at the lease signing — confessions about the pet(s) that they actually had, and I was able to go ahead and get the lease set up properly from the very beginning.

Whatever you decide is right for your business, will be the right answer for you. This might also be one of those times where a little trial and error is involved before you reach a decision.

What’s your pet policy for your rental property?

Photo: Wendy

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{ 80 comments… read them below or add one }

Keith January 16, 2012 at 7:31 am

I agree. I allow pets, but charge extra fees for them. If potential tenants have dogs I tell them they must either show me proof of obedience training or they need to bring the dogs at the time of application so I can see they are well trained. You’d be amazed at how many tenants turn down their own pets because they know they aren’t behaved.

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Sharon Vornholt January 16, 2012 at 8:38 am

That’s a great idea. I always ask what type/breed of dog it is also since insurance companies won’t cover some of breeds of dogs. Having the potential tenant bring the dog in lets you see for yourself exactly what type of dob it is.

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Di June 19, 2012 at 7:18 pm

I understand the insurance policy, but it is very frustrating to know that our “love” a lab/pitt/collie (yep) mix restricts rentals, especially when moving to a small city.

Is there anything we can do? If a rental is listed with a “cats only” or “no pets” should we even try to contact them at all, will they consider?

We have had renters insurance since first renting. Our record with our insurance company is excellent.
A meet and greet with the landlord will not be a problem for us, and showcasing his obedience skills will be more enjoyable than intimidating, plus, if need be, I can even create a pet resume.

Also, I’m not sure how honest we should be as his paper work list him as lab mix. He looks like a lab/collie mix and in-fact, we had to tell our vet that he had some pitt in him.

What is your opinion?

*p.s. . We didn’t choose our “love,” he chose us. It would be nice if he was a golden retriever -or some preferred pedigree generally accepted- but he’s not; and we would never let him go b/c of that simple fact. I’m just stating this sentiment aloud as perhaps landlords/property managers can gain perspective on the emotional issues pet owners like us will have to deal with.

-Di

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Sharon Vornholt June 20, 2012 at 7:49 am

Hi Di -

The insurance companies are pretty strict. If the dog every bit someone, the first thing the insurance company would do would be to ask for the rental application and the lease. When they found out that the tenant hadn’t told the truth about the breed, then they would sue the tenant personally so I wouldn’t advise that.

Some landlords will change their mind if they meet you in person. If they have a no dog policy, they may require a large enough deposit to replace any carpet installed. In my opinion, you are better off looking for pet friendly rentals.

I have pets and I love my pets, but I never had a pet in a rental that didn’t do a whole lot more damage than the pet deposit that was paid. So as a landlord, I didn’t really want pets.

Di June 20, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Thanks for the advice.

-Di

Jamie January 16, 2012 at 9:38 am

I would also check with the potential tenants as to the breed/age of the dog as well. As Sharon mentioned, most insurance companies won’t even insure homes with certain breeds (with more aggressive histories). Also, a teething/potty training puppy is a lot more likely to cause damage to a property than a matured dog. One possible solution to this: allow dogs (with an additional deposit, of course), but not puppies. This doesn’t alienate the majority of pet-owners, but will deter renters from using your income property as a potty-training grounds.

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Sharon Vornholt January 16, 2012 at 11:14 am

Jamie – Puppies are definitely bad news. Like Keith said, you can learn a lot about the dog just by having the tenants bring it by.

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Carole Murphy January 16, 2012 at 10:05 am

They sign a Pet Policy and Pet Rider which is attached to their lease. This form can be gotten from Office Supply Stores or o Online. The Pet Policyh spells outall terms and conditions. I also kept the pets to “cats” as dogs can attack other humans

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Sharon Vornholt January 16, 2012 at 11:16 am

Carole – I had a “Pet Addendum” right in my lease. Everyone should be sure to address pets in some manor.

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Stephen Russell January 16, 2012 at 10:07 am

I completely agree with allowing pets. Like you said, most people think of their pets as part of their family and you could lose a great tenant if you deny them because they have an animal. Of course you should have extra fees etc. Being an owner of three large dogs, I don’t like the breed restriction idea because some of the sweetest and well mannered dogs are considered “dangerous,” and I would have to do it on a case by case basis unless there was an insurance issue.

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Sharon Vornholt January 16, 2012 at 11:21 am

Stephen – I never found that big dogs were really more of a problem than smaller dogs. It’s more about the owner and what they expect from the dog.

I do know that if you don’t let them have their pets, they’ll just sneak them in anyway. So you might as well get some cash from them to help take care of the damage. My insurance company won’t insure tenants that have some breeds of dogs that they consider aggressive. Everyone should check with their insurance company to see if they have any restrictions.

Also, cat urine was a big problem for me.

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Keith January 16, 2012 at 10:56 am

Unfortunately breed restrictions have a lot to do with the insurance companies. I personally own a Rottweiler who is the sweetest animal on earth. My insurance company will allow me to have a Rotty in my personal residence. However, they will not cover “dangerous” breeds under my landlords policies.

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Sharon Vornholt January 16, 2012 at 11:21 am

Keith – I think that is pretty standard.

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george January 16, 2012 at 2:25 pm

i found out that 8 out of 10 people that come to see the houses have pets. it amazes me that people that try to bargain to reduce the price of the rent go ahead and get a dog, which actually increases their lease and makes it harder for them to find a nice place.

but anyway, i quickly learned that i have to accept pets or else i would lose 80% of the calls. so, we started charging $25/month extra, but that’s not enough. a new carpet in a 1k sq. ft house costs around $1100 and $25*12 is only $300. so if they leave in one year, you are spending $800 out of your pocket.

then i started asking for $55 for one pet and $80 for 2 or more monthly fee. but now i have on house with no takers. My realtor tells me that that’s because of the high pet fee. They recommended a one time cleaning fee of $350.

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Sharon Vornholt January 16, 2012 at 3:18 pm

I had the same problem. I had a one time pet fee of 1/2 the deposit ( that wasn’t enough) in addition to the deposit, plus $25.00 a month. The only way you broke even was if they stayed a couple of years. It’s usually a “lose lose” for landlords.

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Lucie Hauri January 17, 2012 at 12:45 am

I don’t have a problem with pets. I have 2 dogs and they are a part of my family. Why to pay more for the dogs?

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Sharon Vornholt January 17, 2012 at 7:53 am

I have dogs also Lucie, but I am a responsible pet owner. We spent a great deal of time housebreaking them and keeping them from chewing the house down. When they were puppies and wanted to chew everything, I crated them when I left the house.

I can tell you from experience, the vast majority of tenants aren’t that way. I have had dogs chew big holes vinyl flooring in the kitchen and bathroom. One dog chewed the whole corner of the kitchen cabinet and the door. They can really do a lot of damge.

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Ronald Cagape January 17, 2012 at 6:53 am

This is an eye-opener for me. Pets are not yet a big issue in the our country (Philippines) but is likely to become one as the pet industry grows. This is a great idea to add to our lease contracts.

Good thing carpets are not popular here…

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Sharon Vornholt January 17, 2012 at 6:58 am

Ronald –

Pets are definitely a big issue here. Folks love their pets.

A lot of landlords have been putting different types of flooring in their rentals other than carpet such as laminate and tile. If you can get away from carpet, it will save you money in the long run for sure.

How is the rental market in the Philippines?

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george January 17, 2012 at 7:28 am

the only problem with that is when dogs pee on the laminate and if it gets in between the joints and under the laminate, then the laminate floor needs to be torn out. i am not certain it can get underneath the laminate, but if it does, it’s bye bye laminate.

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Sharon Vornholt January 17, 2012 at 7:43 am

George – Someone else told me that they also had a problem with laminate.

I know one section 8 landlord that got so fed up with the whole flooring issue, that he put the old fashioned 12×12″ rubber tiles (they used to use in offices) throughout the entire house in each one of his houses. He bought boxes and boxes of the tiles the same color. He used them in all his houses, and he got rid of all his flooring issues.

The very worst problem I had with a tenant and carpet was one guy that brought his motorcycle into the living room and changed the oil right on the carpet. He did this just before moving out of the house without paying his rent for the month.

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Bilgefisher January 17, 2012 at 7:39 am

I do not allow cats period. Never had any luck with those overgrown rats (cat urine is one of the hardest odors to remove) Dogs are allowed with a $250 deposit for each dog and $20/mo fee per dog. I have one tenant with 3 dogs in a 700 sq ft house. That place is very clean and only minor damage which the deposit will cover. That said, they snuck the dogs in. Random inspections caught that real quick. Sec8 can be very helpful when resolving this issue.

Another option I have heard of is telling tenants via lease disclosed pets are $20/mo, discovered pets are $40/mo. I haven’t tried it, but have heard it works to get them to tell you right away.

Jason

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Sharon Vornholt January 17, 2012 at 7:48 am

Jason –

Your pet charges were similar to mine. They helped cover the damage, but there was almost always more damage that the deposit they paid. I like your idea about “discovered” pets. Just by telling them you have that policy will cause some of them to “confess” before they move in. And yes, cat urine is almost impossible to remove. A lot of tenants hide their cats. It’s easier because they can keep them inside.

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Jason Tan January 18, 2012 at 2:36 am

Totally agree! Pets are great but extra fees should be charged for potential damages. In my country, there are no such surcharges. I think it necessary to create a clean and comfortable neighborhood.

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Sharon Vornholt January 18, 2012 at 8:17 am

Jason – Extra fees should definitly be charged. It has been my experience that there is almost always damage.

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Andrew Isaacs January 18, 2012 at 2:11 pm

I recently reviewed the lease contracts my company is using. We resolved the issue almost identically to the way you described! Only thing I would add is that in Ohio, whether you call the up-front fee a “deposit” or a “fee” is very important. I make sure our tenants understand that the “Pet Convenience Fee” is not refundable and that this is clear in the lease. If it were a “Pet Deposit” they would be entitled to the return of the money–above and beyond damages, as you pointed out. Good read!

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Sharon Vornholt January 18, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Andrew-

I’m glad you pointed that out. We have to do the same thing here. It should definitely be a “fee” not a deposit.

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Rob Hayes January 18, 2012 at 5:37 pm

We spent quite a bit of time in our office discussing pet policy. In our market (Chicago Suburbs) most investors are not allowing any pets at all. Due to this being the case there is a large demand for rental units that do allow animals. Therefore, we usually suggest to our investor clients that they do allow animals. We especially recommend this when a client that has carpeting that already could use to be replaced. “What are you trying to protect, when the carpet is already in poor condition”. We also suggest that our investors ask applicants with pets to give a larger security deposit as appossed to a pet deposit. What happens when that pet no longer lives there? Well, the tennant wants their deposit returned… With the increased security deposit, the investor gets to keep that money as long as the family is in the residence. Thank you from Chicago!

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Sharon Vornholt January 19, 2012 at 7:25 am

Hi Rob –

Thanks for your input. I always charged a deposit and a non-refundable pet “fee” in addition to $25.00 per month per dog or cat like Andrew. It was just a given that there would be more damage with pets. It shouldn’t be that way, but unfortunately it is. I had the same opinion about carpet that was in poor condition.

Maybe you’ll get a snow day out of the snow coming your way. We dodged this one.

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Joel Owens January 22, 2012 at 4:45 pm

I see the pet fee is a hot topic. I have a bunch of tenants with apartment buildings. I agree with Sharon that tenants will sneak them in regardless and lie on the application.

I take a pet fee which is non-refundable for any reason.Even if the pet is perfectly kept you will need to clean carpet,paint,etc. I also have a property manager and maintenance man living onsite.We do inspections every month.I tell tenants the day a pet is discovered we will immediately start eviction.

We do not accept aggrresive breeds of dogs either.Insurance will drop coverage for all of the buildings. I like pets and have some of my own.However what I fault tenants for is trying to confine a large animal in a small space. Example we have 2 bed 2 bath town houses. A big dog HAS TO HAVE a big yard to move around in.

I can understand an older dog on it’s last leg will do less damage but those dogs cause other issues.They can’t hold it anymore and then the carpets get ruined because the tenant is never home.

Cats are fine as long as they have been fixed and the cat litter boxes are changed and claws are clipped little to no damage will occur.Sadly many people that have pets do not deserve them.

One item you really have to keep an eye out for is other people GIFTING free animals to your tenants. We will do an inspection and the gifted animal is always an aggressive breed or a puppy that does massive damage and barks constantly. We tell tenants they will face immediate eviction for it. Had them get rid of an animal the other day.

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Sharon Vornholt January 22, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Joel-

Monthly inspections are a great idea, if you have the man power to do that. I believe that you have to have policies and stick to them in your business. Pets are always tough to deal with in rentals.

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Chuck January 22, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Sharon,

I also accept pets and have started charging a $500 pet FEE. I make it clear this is a non-refundable pet fee and not a deposit. So far I have collected 2 of these fees. The $500 is not really enough to cover the damage pets can cause, but it helps.

What you really need is tenants that will stay a long time. I always ask my tenants how long they plan on staying? The answer i am looking for is “The rest of our lives”. In any event, I am really looking to get them to stay at least 30 months. If they can make it 2.5 years, I have made some money and can afford to fix some damage. I would like to think pet owners stay longer, but can’t really prove that yet..

Enjoying your blog – Take care,
Ch.

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Sharon Vornholt January 23, 2012 at 6:42 am

Chuck –

I didn’t have any luck getting a pet fee that was that large althought I think it’s a great idea. What percentage of tenants with pets are willing to pay that amount? I think it’s great if you can get tenants to stay several years. Like you said, it sure helps with the financial end of the equation. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I’m glad you are enjoying it.

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Jim January 24, 2012 at 6:48 am

There are a lot more considerations than the tenant is going to do what they want to do. The single biggest thing the aurthor did not address about pets, especially dogs, is insurance. Most insurance compamnies have a very long list of prohibited breeds of dogs. Therefore, allowing a dog on the insurance company’s prohibited list in the house,could render the insurance null and void. Also, if the “prohibited dog” bites someone you are going to be drawn into the up coming law suit. In Texas evictions are very easy, 21days from the mailing of the 3 day letter to getting a writ of possession. So, eviction for a prohibited pet is fast.

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Sharon Vornholt January 24, 2012 at 9:08 am

Jim -

I did have that addressed in my lease. My insurance company had a list of breeds they did not allow. I had everyone sign off on this clause because you are right about the fact that they can cancel your insurance if you allow those types of dogs. Thanks for your comments.

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Elizabeth April 24, 2012 at 9:45 am

As both an owner of a Pitbull and someone who is interested in leasing out my condo, I’m curious as to whether or not there are exceptions to the list of breeds insurance companies will not allow. For example, if in the lease you require the tenant to carry his/her own insurance and/or you state something along the lines of the landlord not being responsible for any injuries that may be a result of the animal.

Before purchasing my condo I had a terrible time trying to find a place that would allow my dog despite the fact I’ve met chocolate labs more aggressive than he is. I’d love to find a “loop hole” of some sort that opens up the breeds of dog allowed, although I’m sure it is very dependent on the insurance company.

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Sharon Vornholt April 24, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Elizabeth-

As far as I know, certain breeds of dogs are banned by most insurance companies. In the end, if someone were injured by one of these dogs, you would get sued no matter what you had written in the lease. That’s just the way our legal system works.

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Sharon Vornholt June 20, 2012 at 5:02 pm

@Di – You are very welcome.

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Katherine June 24, 2012 at 3:39 am

I’m a tenant and I’m renting a house with a large backyard and have a puppy (dalmatian), i have with some man power built a (removable) fenced dog yard which the dog is in while we are at work and in bed so we know no damage to the property is made. She has dug up a bit but filling in holes is something we can easily cover up upon the lease ending. She has been inside but always supervised. Me and my partner the other lease holder are only a young 22 yrs old, and treating the leased property how we’d treat our own. Some pet owns have absolutely no respect!

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Sharon Vornholt June 24, 2012 at 11:45 am

Katherine -

If everyone treated their rental property with that much respect, pets would be welcome everywhere. I will thank you for all of the rental property owners out there. Everyone would love to have a tenant like you.

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Sailly Hernandez September 26, 2012 at 5:54 pm

Miami Dade County Animal Services has fined me for 2 pit bulls that were residing in one of my rental units. I was the one who reported the dog because neighbors were complaining that they were loose and they are illegal in this county. Well, because I am the owner I have a fine of $10,000 per dog and animal services will not take my word that I was the one who called to report it. They say that I am the owner of the property, therefore I am responsible. Is there any legal recourse on this?

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Sharon Vornholt September 26, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Sailly – This is happening all over the country. We had a supreme court ruling in KY this past June about a similar problem. If you own the property, you can be liable especially if you knew the dog was on the property. I would get an attorney and see if they can help.

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Tami October 2, 2012 at 6:47 pm

I keep seeing and hearing that most insurance companies will not insure homes where agressive breed dogs reside. This is not true. Do your homework. State Farm, USAA, and so on. We are renters who care for our home as if it is our own and take very good care of our dog who is a Rottie…a old fat rottie that prefers to sleep, be pet, eat, and poo. We are finding it almost impossible to rent a home in Chattanooga do the insurance and agressive breed statement. Doesn’t anyone do their own homework on this or everyone just accept the blanket statement? I am so frustrated. We are leaving ID and had no problem. Homeowners please research this blanket statement and widen who you rent to. You may be surprised.

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Sharon Vornholt October 3, 2012 at 6:50 am

Tami -

I had two different insurance companies and neither one of them allowed those types of dogs.The breeds were specifically named.

I did check around with several insurance companies regarding rates, and I always asked about the dogs at that time.The insurance companies that I personally spoke with seem to be pretty much alike when it came to their pet policy.

Also this year in June, the state of KY passed a law that basically says if your tenant has a dangerous dog (one of the breeds classifed this way) and you know about it, you are equally responsible if the dog injures someone. The landlord/property owner is also the dogs “owner” in the eyes of the law.

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Ashley November 26, 2012 at 3:59 pm

We are a family of six .me my husband and four children. We are renting in a small village in England have paid how whole rent fees for the year in advance and a huge deposit .

However we are still not allowed to have any pet even tho this is our family home and want to rent here for years to come. We are willing to repaint, lay new flooring have the carpets cleaned every six months . We adore this house and it’s our children’s home . I just feel that for a family like us to not be allowed pets is crazy and I am gutted. Needless to say we will be looking for a new home that will allow pets in the village soon. We are more then willing to pay an extra fee.

Sometimes there are bad tenants and other times there are unreasonable landlords.

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Sharon Vornholt November 27, 2012 at 7:37 am

Hi Ashley -

I can understand your frustration. And for you, this is probably not a fair situation.

I had a couple of good tenants that were responsible pet owners over the years. But by and large, they were almost always terrible tenants when they had pets. There isn’t a chewable surface in the house that hasn’t been eaten by dogs including cabinets, window sills, doors, walls, and every type of floor covering.

There was not even one instance that I didn’t have to replace the carpeting which was thousands of dollars each time. Pets have accidents, and when they do it goes a lot further than cleaning the carpet. You have to replace the carpet, the pad, and in most cases have a professional seal the subfloor where urine has soaked in. If you don’t take that step, the urine smell persists.

I also had it in my lease that they were responsible for all of these damages. No one ever paid, and even if you take them to court, you never collect.

I did eventually allow pets in my property because the “sneaked” them in anyway, but it wasn’t by choice. You sound like a pet owner anyone would welcome.

Thanks for leaving your comments.

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Jason S. November 27, 2012 at 8:13 pm

I’ve seen the comments about the pet fees and the damage that pets can do to the interior of the property. I have a question though regarding the exterior. What policies do you have in place to ensure dog waste is kept cleaned off the lawn? Do you charge more if tenants fail to keep the yard in good repair? Would it be feasible to outsource the yard maintenance to a professional dog waste removal service? If so, what recommendations would you have for a company that would approach you?
Please feel free to contact me offline, if this post is not relevant to your discussion.

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Sharon Vornholt November 28, 2012 at 7:46 am

Jason –

I think that it probably should be in your lease if you allow pets that any damage they cause they will be responsible for (but good luck collecting). It also should state that dogs must be kept securely in the back yard, and should list which breeds aren’t allowed. As far as their yard goes, if they want to have dog waste all over the yard then that is their problem if they don’t clean it up. As a landlord, I wouldn’t pay someone to clean up their mess because they are lazy.

I did a post recently on the new laws states are being instituted with regards to landlord liability for their tenants pets. In many places now, you as the landlord, are also considered to be the owner of the pet since you own the property. So if the tenant’s dog bites someone, you are also liable regardless even if they have insurance. If they have a breed of dog that isn’t allowed, you’d better hope you have your personal assets in a trust where an attorney can’t find them.

The bigger debtate is how you prevent these folks from “sneaking” in breeds of dogs that aren’t allowed by your insurance company.

Here is a link to the other post:

http://www.biggerpockets.com/renewsblog/2012/10/09/liability-allow-pets-dogs-rental-property/

I hope this helps.
Sharon

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james January 27, 2013 at 9:51 pm

Hi Sharon,
I have come across a new wrinkle in the pet/landlord issue and am not sure how to address it. My tenant snuck in a pet dog; after I found out and told her she was in violation of the lease, she told me that this was a “service animal” for her depression and by law I couldn’t evict her or raise the rent or the security deposit. She had a therapist write a prescription for the puppy dog. Above all this the puppy is a pitbull that she “rescued”from an abusive home. My insurance doesn’t accept that breed on my policy but yet by law I can’t treat it as a “pet” or evict her service animal. What a predicament. Does my insurance have to take any breed as long as it is labeled a service animal? In the future how could I filter a mentally ill applicant who may want to do this after they move in (I can’t ask if they are mentally ill)? This law is so ambiguous on the “mental” side of the disability issue that this pushes a landlord into court, where it is always a lose lose situation for the landlord. If the mentally disabled truly had to get a properly trained service animal (like a seeing eye dog for the blind) than at least it would filter the types and quality of animals that are available to help them. As the law is now it could be anything from 12 cats to a 10 foot python that helps soothe a mental disability; only a court could decide! What are your thoughts?

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Sharon Vornholt January 28, 2013 at 6:35 am

James -

I would probably require her to bring me a legal document stating what she has said about it being a trained service animal, then take it to my attorney and let him handle it. I have necer heard of a pit bull being used as a service animal. I wouldn’t rent to her without it. This brings up another good point.

This is something that should probably be in everyone’s lease. Something about “needing a formal document stating they have a service animal because of “existing state laws and insurance requirements”. That way, you couldn’t be accused of discrimination; it’s in your lease.

I think this is a notch up from the regular pet problem, and it should be handled by an attorney. I will see if I can find answer though. That’s a really good question.

Sharon

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Sharon Vornholt January 30, 2013 at 10:05 am

James -

I contacted my closing attorney here in Louisville who is an expert in all things real estate. He had a great answer to the question which was inline with what I said. His response was this:

If someone hits you with, “but my pit bull (or other what is considered to be a dangerous breed of dog) is a service animal, tell them you must have a paperwork from the doctor or medical provider stating that. It cannot be deliverd by the tenant; it must be mailed from the medical provider’s office and be on their letterhead. You should then follow up with a phone call to the medical provider to verify that the paperwork actually came from them.

Step 2 is to call your insurance company, and provide them with the paperwork you have been given. They insurance company must sign off on this and say they will cover this “service dog”.

I wanted to add, that I think It would also be a good idea to put this in your lease. Put in a provision that states you follow all fair housing requirements, but your insurance company has to sign off on these “service animals” if they fall into one of those categories.

If someone is just calling their pet a “service dog” , this process will eliminate this problem.

I hope this helps.
Sharon

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Chad Ballard March 1, 2013 at 1:58 pm

Has anyone had any experience with tenants with pets deterring potential tenants from the property? If you are showing the property to someone who is not a pet person they might shy away just because a pet used to live there.

On a second note I was a professional carpet cleaner in a past life and there are products (commercial enzyme products) that we used to clean up just about anything having to do with pets, however they were pretty pricey. Thankfully I never had to use them much not the funnest part of the job.

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Sharon Vornholt March 1, 2013 at 7:31 pm

Chad -

I haven’t really come across that problem. Tenants are a lot more tolerant that someone that is buying a home that has problems with pets.

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calgarth November 25, 2013 at 12:29 pm

I have seen on some websites maintained by realtors that pets can, and do, deter both renters and buyers. Renters and buyers are now being advised to visit the property at different times of the day and night and listen for barking dogs, walk about the property to see if dogs are using it as a toilet, drive around the neighborhood to check for “loose dogs,” particularly the dangerous varieties like pit bulls and Rottweilers. I do not allow any pets in my rental property except fish in a tank and I save so much money that I seldom have to raise the rent. If you’re looking to rent an apartment and move into a place where pets are allowed, you can bet the rent will be raised every year to cover the exorbitant costs incurred from repairing damage done by dogs.

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marsha March 2, 2013 at 7:20 pm

Hahahah well behaved. I would think that if the pet is not well behaved then the owner is not well behaved.. why rent to them anyways? And why oh why would you rent to someone whose willing to give up part of their family for a roof over their heads? I have heard horror stories of tenants whom destroy the rentals. Wait, what about toddlers? They have several accidents.. draw on walls, accidentally pee or poo, vomit sometimes.. should you require that the toddler come with a training cert? I see your point, but just be aware that renting is a business, you will get some good and some bad. Don’t blame the dog, blame the owner.

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Sharon Vornholt March 2, 2013 at 9:12 pm

Marsha -

The dog’s training or lack of is indeed usually an owner problem. But sometimes dogs are just destructive.

In all the years I had rental property I never has a toddler or child do any of the following things: chew up a kitchen or bathroom floor, eat wooden cabinets, chew doors, door frames or window sills or destroy the screens in the windows. I also never had one chew drywall when they were locked in one rso that they ended up in another room because the owner of the dog left a receptacle cover off. Needless to say, the dog got sick all over the carpet. The tenant didn’t bother to have the carpet cleaned.

I have never had a single tenant with a pet that didn’t leave the property with a considerable amount of damage; a whole lot more damage that the damage deposit would cover. I do believe that many times the pets do damage when the owners are away at work, and have been left in the house.

Children and families are hard on paint and carpet at times which is to be expected. I’m just curious; how many rental properties do you have?

Sharon

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Christina March 25, 2013 at 9:32 pm

I’m going to add to the toddler comment. I have both owned homes and been a renter. A good friend of mine has two toddlers, and they are in the midst of potty training. Both kids have peed on the carpet and pooped on the carpet, they destroyed the garage door, there are crayon markings all over the vinyl siding on the outside and on the garage door, and the bathrooms are a mess because the water damage from leaving baths spilling over, etc. have destroyed flooring.

My dogs have no ‘official training class’, just good old house breaking that I did myself. I have no problems doing a ‘doggie interview’ and would like to add….my dogs have never peed or pooped on the carpet. I have 3 dogs and rent, and it is a nightmare! I had one landlord ask for $3000 upfront, of which $1000 was nonrefundable. My closing costs on buying a house was about the same.

I understand the pet fees. I have no problem paying $5000 in deposits up front…but make them refundable for pet owners who leave a home clean and in good condition! I’ve had great references and landlords praise me that I’ve left homes in better condition than young families with children. I know it’s scary, but many many pet owners are being discriminated against as being ‘dirty and filthy’ without even meeting in person! I had one lady tell me I must be a dirty person because I had 3 dogs without ever meeting me.

I’ve seen tenants with kids break through screens on both doors and windows, and tear through carpets because they walked through the home with their shoes on, regardless of mud and clay.

Landlords also think it’s okay to hand over a dirty property to pet owners, because they assume they are dirty too. I’m sorry, why should I have to move into a place with nasty stained carpet that wasn’t cleaned after the last tenant left, pay you a $500 nonrefundable pet fee, pay to have the carpet cleaned myself because it stinks from the last guy smoking inside even though he wasn’t supposed to, and then have the landlord laugh all the way to the bank because I left the place in cleaner condition than I received it? That’s not exactly fair either.

I’ve been on both sides of the fence, and pets have become a situation for landlords to become ‘opportunistic’.

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Sharon Vornholt March 26, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Whether it is pets or kids Christina, it is really a “grown up” problem. The real problem is the parents of the kids or the owners of the pets. I have kids and they never did any of the things you mentioned. Did they break a dish here and there? Yes. They never chewed and completely destroyed cabinets, doors and flooring.

You can have pet policies and charge pet fees. However, Fair Housing Laws prevent discrimination agianst almost all categories of people. You can’t legally even ask if children will be living in your rentals. You should go online and print out the Fair Housing Laws for your own protection.

Sharon

Stacy April 18, 2013 at 3:19 pm

Sister had a one day surgery,asked me to watch dog for that day. I did now leasing manager is charging me 300.00 for pet fee/20.00 a month pet rent.I dont have a pet I watch her pet because she couldnt move! So im payn for something i dont own…this is greedy to me!

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Sharon Vornholt April 18, 2013 at 4:46 pm

That’s unfortunate Stacy. Because of fair housing laws, they have to be enforced across the board.

Sharon

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Richard April 26, 2013 at 9:04 am

Hi, Sharon,
My townhouse is for rent, $1750, no-pet policy. A prospective tenat would like to put an addtional $250 as security deposit for her 5-year-old dog. But I was thinking charging her $20 more each month, instead of $250 deposit. What would you suggest? Thank you.
Richard

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Sharon Vornholt April 26, 2013 at 9:29 am

Richard -

That’s not enough money for a security deposit in my opinion. If the rent $1750, the security deposit should be $1750, and the pet deposit $1750. You absolutely should charge a monthly fee.

If there is any carpet in this place, just count on it being ruined. I have dogs myself and I like them. But from a business perspective animals can do a lot of damage. Quite frankly, $250 wouldn’t cover much of anything. The really big question is: how much money do you want to have to pull out of YOUR pocket when the tenant moves out?

Typically pet deposits are non refundable. If the tenant balks at deposit equal to one months rent, then ask her, “If you are certain your pet won’t do any damage and I offer to refund the deposit if no urine or damage can be found, what is your objection?” Most professional carpet cleaning companies carry a type of “black light” that finds any trace of pet urine on carpet. You will have to replace it for the next tenant if there is any trace of urine. If you have hardwood, pets can completely ruin hardwood floors with urine.

I wouldn’t do it on that priced rental myself. Just my 2 cents.

Sharon

Sharon

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Richard April 26, 2013 at 10:28 am

Sharon,
Yes, it’s now $1750 monthly rent, $1750 security deposit, and no-pet.
So you’re suggesting $1770 monthly rent ($20 more for pet), $1750 security deposit, and $1750 pet deposit? Thanks.
Richard

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Sharon Vornholt April 26, 2013 at 11:00 am

Yes. It has to be painful if they tear the place up.

Sharon

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Laura Bee August 2, 2013 at 5:15 pm

Loved everyone’s comments, experiences and suggestions. This truly helped me as my tenant kindly texted me “Oh, I have to ask what the pet deposit is as, we now have 2(yes 2 in a NO PETS property!) nice pooches.” He has been living by himself in one of my nicest 3 bedroom properties, cherry cabinets and the like. He recently asked if his ex wife could move in, as they were getting back together. With that also comes his adult mentally challenged daughter and her son. I agreed to that with a lease increase. But NEVER the dogs. I’m going to meet them tonight, I have a very important decision to make here and it’s wrenching my stomach.

Needless to say, I am NOT thrilled with this whole thing.

Thanks again all!

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Sharon Vornholt August 3, 2013 at 10:29 am

Laura -

This is the point where you have to decide whether you will work something out with them or make them leave. I have found that once you allow them to break the rules without first asking you in writing such as with the pets, they will continue to ignore the terms of lease. You also set yourself up with setting a “precedent” allowing them to break the rules as far as the courts go. I personally wouldn’t do that,

Sharon

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Laura October 15, 2013 at 3:00 pm

Hi Sharon~

I did not renew their lease. When I went for the home inspection I found that
the “Two really nice pooches” had already chewed weather stripping around the
door. Not to mention the daughter that was “Home all day to care for the dogs”
(on my tax dollar) was lazy and the dogs never quite made it out as they should
have !!! Thankfully they didn’t damage the property too much beyond repair, they
did not clean a thing (typical)
However they did leave me with a $250 water bill (the average bill in the past was about $96) and flooring that had to be replaced. Those animals had to be there longer than he admitted to, or they just NEVER took them out.

I will have to stand firm on my “NO PET” policy. I just read the new comment above. If
tenants were truly like that, we would not be having this conversation.

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Sharon Vornholt October 16, 2013 at 12:25 pm

That is a decision each person has to make for themselves. There is no right or wrong decision; it just has to be right for you.

Sharon

David Goldinger October 15, 2013 at 12:55 pm

I didn’t read All of the comments above but for the several dozen I Did read..it appears that ALL landlords have stereotyped ALL dogs together…If this one tears things up..they ALL do……Well, my dog is completely housebroken & well behaved & has Never destroyed anything…but He along with me are being chastised by the common referal that ALL dogs are destructive…..I am in the process of moving & before I Get Rid of my dog I will live on the street. I am Not on welfare…I have worked my entire life & am a Veteran…I deserve to have the comfort of my friend as I grow older….I know this comment won’t change anyones mind regarding “pets”…but look at yours when you go home & think….If I am forced to move…how will I kill you?

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Sharon Vornholt October 16, 2013 at 12:28 pm

David- My pets are not destructive either, and I have had good tenants with pets. But by and large, folks are not like you and me and their pets have done a tremendous amount of damage in the past. That is just a fact.

Sharon

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calgarth November 25, 2013 at 12:20 pm

The idea that you will appeal to more people if you allow pets is erroneous. Less than 40% of households in the US have a dog, which means if you have a strict “no dogs” policy, you will appeal to at least 60% of renters. A single dog can absolutely ruin a unit in no more than a month. I own rental property and when I purchase a property that allows pets, I send all tenants a letter announcing the new policy and letting them know they must either get rid of their pets or move at the end of their leases. It costs at least three times as much to prepare an apartment where a dog has lived, sometimes more, than one where there has been no dog, or dogs. I have gone into apartments vacated by dog owners and found baseboards, window sills, etc. chewed so badly they had to be replaced; blinds, curtains, etc. totally destroyed; doors scratched so badly they had to be replaced; screens torn up; linoleum scratched and sometimes pulled up and chewed; and the list goes on, and on, and on. Carpets and padding ALWAYS have to be replaced when a dog moves out because NOTHING will remove the “dog smell” and if the dog urinates on the carpet and the unit has hardwood floors, the floor also has to be replaced. Even if the unit has concrete floors, it sometimes takes professional cleaning to remove the smell from the floors. I have gone into such units wearing khaki pants and looked down and my pants were literally covered in fleas and fleas can easily migrate to other apartments. One building I own has six floors, with carpeted center hallways on each floor, and when I purchased it, ALL the carpeting had to be replaced because they were full of fleas and although we hired a professional pest control company and everything known to man was used, the technician finally told us there was nothing else that could be done except to replace the carpet and padding — and this was NOT cheap! Additionally, in buildings/apartment complexes that allow dogs, more than three-quarters of all complaints are dog-related — barking dogs, fleas, people not picking up after their fleabags, aggressive dogs, etc. Once we buy a place and get rid of the dogs, residents stay longer, there are hardly any complaints at all and we save so much money, we do not have to increase the rent nearly as often. I have asked residents if they would prefer to live in a place that allows dogs, or one that seldom increases the rent, and I have yet to find a resident who prefers dogs over lower rent!

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Sharon Vornholt November 26, 2013 at 11:08 am

Calgarth -

It has been my experience that most pets do so much damage their pet deposit and the monthly pet fee never covers it.

I know there are responsible pet owners out there because I am one of them. I just never had any of them rent my properties. The even bigger problem was that they brought in pets and hid them. Then there was a lot of damage an no deposits. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

Sharon

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Joe November 28, 2013 at 12:21 pm

I do not allow pets of any kind. I agree with you in that very often the deposit doesn’t cover the damages. Besides, even if it does cover the pet damages…what is left over for the other reasons you charge a deposit in the first place – all the human damages.

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Sharon Vornholt November 28, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Well said Joe. It’s too bad that this has to be the case. But in all the years I had rental property, I never has one tenant that didn’t do some type of damage to the property. Thanks for your comments.

Sharon

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Emmie June 12, 2014 at 11:57 am

I allow cats only because after having a few dogs tear up my couches, and another my fridge (not even sure how that happened), I decided to stop taking them. I have never had a problem with cats, as long as I see vet records that indicate they are up to date on shots and spayed/neutered (prevents or stops spraying in most cases unless done when the cat was well set in his habits, that’s why it’s best done by 6 months of age). I also ask the renters to clip their claws before they come and bring at least one small scratcher toy and some other toys. Like I said, no problems with them. The dogs messed up my stuff despite also asking that owners bring toys for them.

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Sharon Vornholt June 12, 2014 at 4:54 pm

Emmie -

I think ultimately each of us has to decide whether or not to allow pets. I found that they bring them in whether or not you allow them, so you may as well charge for them to cover any damage they do. Thanks for your comments.

Sharon

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dee August 3, 2014 at 7:25 pm

What about people who may want to rent after a person who had a dog ,some of us can’t stand the smell.

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Sharon Vornholt August 4, 2014 at 6:40 am

Dee –

That is a difficult question. Most landlords would prefer not to have dogs and cats in their properties because there is always damage (usually at least to the carpet), and because of the odors they leave behind that folks like you can’t tolerate. But the reality of the situation is that they “sneak” them in anyway, then we are left fixing damage without any damage deposit.

That problem is one of the reasons I hate being a landlord. As a renter it is really difficult to find property to rent that has never had a pet in it. If you can find one without carpet, and ask them to add Nilium to the paint and repaint the property you won’t have any smell. The nilium will get rid of all traces in the drywall.

In return, that landlord is going to want you to sign a longer lease in most cases to cover the additional cost.

Sharon

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Robin August 13, 2014 at 8:40 pm

Really. I want to live in a pet free environment. It isn’t fair to me to move into a no pet property and have rude people bring pets anyway or have the landlords give in to pets without even telling the tenants who moved in solely because there were no pets. I am hyper-sensitive to fleas and end up having to take medication. I am not allowed to move or given money to move away from the pets. I have to pay to get the fleas out of my living areas because the pet owners pets have fleas that jump. There are more places that allow pet than don’t. Leave the no pet zones free of pets please. Put them in pet care or store them at someones home who can have pets. How about suing for pet damages in no pet properties. How about thinking about all the other tenants who are following the rules.

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Sharon Vornholt August 14, 2014 at 8:42 am

Robin – I only wish it were that simple. I tried for a long time to have homes that didn’t allow pets. In the end, they got pets anyway. As far a suing someone, that is never the answer. Financially a landlord can’t afford it. Secondly the tenants rarely have any money if they were to lose the suit.

Sharon

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