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