Should You Allow Pets in Your Rentals?

Should You Allow Pets in Your Rentals?

3 min read
Chris P.

Chris Prit has been investing since 2015, reached financial independence in 2016, and retired in 2017.

A longtime writer and consumer of all things related to the FIRE (financial independence retire early) movement, Chris went from working 50+ hours a week to less than 20 thanks to her real estate investment portfolio and side passion projects. Articles about her journey and information about her current projects have been published on LinkedIn, BiggerPockets, Kiplinger, and many other financial news sources.

Prior to joining the FIRE movement, Chris worked as a program and acquisitions manager on various projects and started a successful, world-renowned non-profit organization. Today, she uses these skills as a real estate investing consultant to help others reach their FIRE-related goals. Her average portfolio return is 30%.

Chris was a guest on the BiggerPockets Podcast episode #183 and has also appeared on the BiggerPockets Money podcast, the Best Ever Show with Joe Fairless, and Passive Cashflow, among others.

Chris’s graduate studies include an MS conferred in Human Factors Engineering and an MBA/MS in Entrepreneurship/Management. She is particularly skilled in operations management, budgeting and planning, optimization modeling, cyber security, and data analysis.

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It’s no secret. Pets can cause serious damage to a home.

Certain breeds pose other liabilities, as well. As a landlord, I would love to welcome all breeds. But insurance companies don’t feel the same.

For these reasons, it can be difficult for people with pets to find rentals willing to accept them. And for renters with multiple pets, it’s even more challenging.

Should you accept pets in your rentals? It really depends. But I do! Here’s why.

Most Pets Are Not Destructive

While it’s absolutely true that many pets are destructive (especially young ones), most are not. When carefully vetting prospective tenants through personal references, interviews, and so on, you can likely find out how a person cares for their pets and property.

I also ensure through a pet agreement that I have a picture of the pet, its veterinary information and a pledge that there is no history of violence with the animal. I collect a pet deposit, along with monthly pet rent, as well.


Related: What Should Condo Unit Owners & Landlords Know About Pet Policy Laws?

Some Rentals Are More Pet-Friendly Than Others

Do you have a fenced yard? Perhaps tile floors?  If so, you may want to consider accepting pets.

It would be difficult for a domesticated animal to harm tile floors. However, in properties where I have wood floors, I tend not to allow dogs due to the potential for damage to occur.

Just because you accept pets in one property doesn’t mean you need to across the board. And if none of your properties are a good fit for animals, that’s okay to acknowledge, too.

Pet-Owning Renters Are Willing to Pay Deposits and Fees

People love their animals; they’re part of the family. This is why many renters are willing to pay an extra security deposit plus pet rent each month to ensure they can house their animals.

Most follow through with the required additional payments and are responsible with their pets. Is everyone? No. But the majority are.

I’ve been able to ensure that pet owners are good about preserving the condition of my properties by doing something many landlords don’t: offering a refundable pet deposit. I am personally astounded this isn’t more common.

There is no incentive to prevent an animal from damaging a place if someone pays a non-refundable deposit up-front. But if there are a few hundred dollars on the line, I think it’s safe to assume renters would either put in the effort to fix any pet-related damage prior to move out or adjust said pet’s behavior.

gray cat lying on floor

Related: Why I Will Always Allow Pets in My Rental Property

What to Do If Pets Cause Damage

Overall, allowing pets in my rentals has been a roaring success. All but two tenants have received their pet deposits back in full.

The first problematic pet owner I encountered had essentially gone nose blind to their animals. Upon moving out, you could definitely smell that pets had been there. To remedy this issue, I deployed an odor bomb in the venting system. It cost $60.

The other incident involved puppies. I knew about them, and allowed them in the property because the tenant promised to crate them. She did not, however, and they chewed up some wooden banisters and carpet. In this case, the damage exceeded the pet deposit. Thankfully, the renter paid for the additional damages in full.

Covering All Pet-Related Bases

I do charge pet rent throughout tenancy, and collect security deposits to ensure damages are covered if not repaired prior to move out. If for any reason I come out behind and someone doesn’t pay for related damages, the pet rent is intended to help cover those costs.

I have tenants with two dogs and a cat paying $50 a month extra; other tenants pay $25 for a single cat. In my time as a landlord, I’ve made thousands of extra dollars for simply allowing renters to live with their furry companions.

It hasn’t always gone perfectly, but even if neither of the renters with problematic pet issues had paid for them, I’d still have come out ahead.

Also, keep in mind that therapy and service animals have laws protecting their status. (These are different from emotional support animals and the like.) Landlords should familiarize themselves with the applicable laws.

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Do you allow pets in your rentals? Why or why not?

Comment below.

It's no secret. Pets can cause serious damage to a home. For this reason, it can be difficult for people with pets to find rentals willing to accept them. And for renters with multiple pets, it's even more challenging. Should you accept pets in your rentals? It really depends. But I do! Here's why.