should I rent to a family with 4 dogs?

85 Replies

so my rental has been sitting on the market for a month and a half now. I've gotten a few showings but only one really interested prospective tenant who actually showed. everything on their app and credit report look good. I also have a good vibe about them. only concern is that they have 4 dogs, 3 of which are American pit bulls that are around 40 pounds each. 1 is a pomeranian. I have a monthly pet fee for each pet ($50 for one and $35 for each thereafter). my thinking was that this fee should more than cover any potential damage I can think of. but I'm still a little weary. should I rent to them?

Absolutely not. Chances are your insurance will be canceled. I would worry less about the property and more about the dogs killing some kid on the street.

The owners are irresponsible for owning that many dogs and not owning their own home. They will have a great deal of trouble finding any landlord to rent to them. Don't be the one that makes that mistake.

My insurance would cancel/not cover me if there was an issue with even one pit bull.

that could be a liability for you do you have a secure fence to contain 4 dogs? how close are you to neighbors? would noise be an issue? do you have carpetnot tile? do you think the property is priced correctly?

I have four dogs myself (all but one is a rescue), and I'd be pretty leery about renting to someone with that many dogs.  Insurance is probably your first issue and after that is how responsible is this person.  Is there a yard?  How likely are they to clean up after the dogs? I spend a lot of time picking up poop lol.  Are the dogs well behaved and not still in the "puppy" stage? Dogs can do a lot of damage.  I would try to see how their current residence looks and also find out their reason for moving.  Talking to the landlord is probably a good idea, but they may lie just to make them someone else's problem.  Is this just one person or a couple?  Four dogs is a lot for one person to handle.  As @Thomas S. said, they are irresponsible for owning that many dogs when they don't own their home.  I see it way too often where people have to get rid of their animals because they're "moving and can't take them with them."  Coming from a very responsible and huge animal lover, I would pass on this person.  

@Rubin Thomas absolutely not. I am sure you can find some pet lover here on BP who will tell you otherwise, but those pit bulls will tear your place to shreds. I own 13 units here in Chicago with zero pets, and I own 20 units in South Bend with zero pets. I have had multiple tenants request to purchase a "small dog" (translation: pit bull) and I have said no every single time!

My homes all have large fenced backyards to accommodate large dogs, but I have a restricted breed list due to my insurance, which includes any mix of breed containing what is commonly known as pit bull, akita, rottweiller, etc...  It also states they will not cover for any dog no matter the breed if it has a history of aggressive behavior, so make sure you ask that.  If you're in a state that doesn't target landlord for the first offense (I think it's a one-bite rule or something) and if this home has acres between neighbors so you don't have to worry about noise complaints or much interaction between, I'd consider it if they provided their own liability insurance that clearly stated it covered the dogs and I could find my own insurance company that didn't have restricted breeds.  Otherwise, I'd have to pass.  

I do pet friendly almost exclusively. 4 is a lot. And raise your monthly pet fee, $155 for 4 is 1/4 what I would charge. $100/ dog, $65/ cat. Don’t like it? Hit the road, or buy a house.

The real question is why is the property vacant for over a month? Are you charging too much?

Are you able to verify with previous landlord if they had any damages before.
I would consult with your insurance agent to see what are the details of your policy regarding the dogs.

I don’t think the breed of dog has anything to do with how much property damage they’ll do. There are thousands of well behaved pit bulls out there, but you only hear about the bad ones. One of mine is a pit bull mix and she’s a great dog. I hate the reputation they get because of irresponsible owners.

I’ve taken several PB’s with tenants and been fine. I screen well though. The ban on them is actually completely contrary to all evidence. Example: Toronto ...

I was quoted yesterday on my 3 family property that the annual property insurance would increase from $2,100 annually to $3,600 annually if I wanted to be able to rent to an inherited tenant with a pitbull.  Something to consider.. is it worth the additional cost and potential liability to you?

@Rubin Thomas - Are they currently renting? I would go to their listed 'current' residence and see what shape it's in.... That's what your house will look like in a month or less...... Stop by and ask them if you can 'inspect' their current residence. I'm sure it will speak "Volumes". Anytime I have an applicant with pets, I ALWAYS visit their current place to see what shape it's in... If they don't let me in, then .... NO!. If the yard is trashed with feces or tore up... PASS! You will learn very quickly how responsible the owners are.

I would follow @Jim C. advice and talk to your insurance company.  these 2 factors will help be a deciding force in your decision.  The bottom line is if your insurance company won't cover you, it really doesn't matter either way it is a no go.  If they do but the insurance rates increase you need to increase your rent and deposits to cover for it.  Also you need to decide if the damage risk is worth it.  If the tenant leaves in 6 months but does $20K in damages that you have to repair before you can rent again, it probably isn't worth the trouble.  

I understand that your getting vacancy panicked, but you really need to weigh the pros and cons in this situation, as well as your liabilities.  On a side note, i always require that a renter with animals have renters insurance.  It is in the rental agreement that they carry it, as it give me protections and recourse if their pet does extensive damage.

I would not rent to them.  Too many dogs!  I would look at lowering your rent and/or examine how you are marketing the place to attract better tenants.  Better to get less rent and a higher quality tenant.  

@Rubin Thomas Yikes! You may want to look at your rent price. If you can price it a little bit below market rent, you may get more people interested. Other thing to look at is the condition of the unit and curbside appeal. Good luck! 

You are making a management mistake in wasting any time in determining if these applicants are worthy of renting to. They are not, do not waste a second of your time trying to make a square peg fit a round hole, that is insane behaviour.

Pit Bulls - No.  Not even 1.  They are HUGE liabilities.

4 Dogs - No.  In many states, you need a Kennel license to have more than 3 dogs.  So, your city may not even allow you to accept 4 dogs.

Speaking of kennels, how do you know these aren't pit bull breeders??!!  Ug.  It would be very easy for 4 to turn into 6,7,10.

BTW, did anyone see that story about the pit bull that attacked his own owner while they went for a walk in the woods?  Not only are pitbulls a danger to children in the neighborhood, but even their own owners!!

Pit Bull Owner Mauled

If you want to know the best answer, ask yourself whether you would lease to a tenant who had a mountain lion, or bobcat for a pet.

No. lol. Better off not rented. 

Unless these are some insanely classy tenants with Paris Hilton pooches. (I'm certainly not one of those and I don't know anyone who is.)

Better off paying the mortgage than 1 year's worth of damage from 4 dogs. 
Forget it. 

@Cara Lonsdale

"ask yourself whether"

Better question: Should you lease to someone if you feel it is necessary to come on a forum and ask the opinion of others if you should lease to them. My advice is that if you feel it is necessary to ask then you definatly should not be even considering leasing to them.

You already know the answer, what you lack is the necessary skill set to manage your business.

Again, it has nothing to do with the breed (other than for insurance purposes) of the dog. ALL dogs have the potential to bite/be aggressive. I have a chihuahua and a pit bull/cattle dog mix. I always tell people to be careful with the chihuahua but the pit bull/cattle dog is fine. I think the comparison between having a bobcat or mountain lion is the same as having a pit bull was a little overboard.

@Chris Szepessy

"the pit bull/cattle dog is fine."

I have had dogs all my life, all different dog should ever be considered as fine...never fully trust any dog/animal.

Yes, I know. Which is why I said prior to that that ALL dogs have the potential to bite/be aggressive. My point was that just because a dog is a pit bull doesn’t make it any more or less aggressive.

think of how fast a dog can eat chew dig piss poo away $1000.  I would need MAJOR financial coverage for four dogs.

Originally posted by @Chris Szepessy :

Yes, I know. Which is why I said prior to that that ALL dogs have the potential to bite/be aggressive. My point was that just because a dog is a pit bull doesn’t make it any more or less aggressive.

 This is actually not true.  Pit Bulls are wired for violence.  That is why they are made with a lock jaw.

The reason why I compared them to a mountain lion or bobcat is because they are just as unpredictable.  Just as the story that I linked to of a woman who just LOVED her friendly loving pit bulls....who ended up mauling her to death while on a walk in the woods.  There are too many of these stories to count.

There will always be a dog owner like you who is either in denial, or has yet to experience their wrath, but pit bulls are bad news.  It's not a matter of IF, it is only a matter of WHEN.

More importantly (and back onto point), is that pit bulls are a HUGE liability for a landlord.  So, regardless of your thoughts on the breed, it just simply does not make ANY sense to rent to someone with 1 pit bull, let alone 3!

Free eBook from BiggerPockets!

Ultimate Beginner's Guide Book Cover

Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!

  • Actionable advice for getting started,
  • Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
  • Learn how to get started with or without money,
  • Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
  • And a LOT more.

Lock We hate spam just as much as you

Create Lasting Wealth Through Real Estate

Join the millions of people achieving financial freedom through the power of real estate investing

Start here