ATTN: People who rent to Pet owners *Newbie seeks advice* Thanks!

10 Replies

Hi Everyone, 

So after countless hours of listening to podcasts, surfing these forums learning from you all, and reading tons of articles/books I am super pumped to finally be closing on my first property in about a week (house hacking a 4plex)! 

I have done my research and have heard countless arguments re the pros/cons regarding renting to pets and I am about 99% sure I am team PETS!! I am fairly set in stone as far as being willing to risk damages in order to increase my potential tenant pool and my rent potential. I do plan to charge an up front pet fee and then to also charge monthly pet rent per pet to hopefully offset some of the inevitable damages :D 

My biggest worries pertain to the personal liability component (Tenant A's dog bites Tenant B, the mailman gets bit by Tenant B's Cat, etc) and I want to make sure I am doing my best to protect myself. I am hoping to get advice pertaining to the verbiage you use in your pet addendum/leasing agreements and am also interested in any other precautionary measures you may take in order to limit your liability. 

I will be not allowing certain "dangerous" breeds (per my insurance) but again I want to make sure I am wording this correctly to ensure I don't get sued for "discrimination". Any other advice/tips etc. pertaining to renting to pet owners are greatly appreciated! 

Thanks in advance for taking the time to read my huge wall of text and for helping the new guy out. Once again, I appreciate it! 

- Mike 

On the liability side, many states have their own requirements and you can’t necessarily contract out of those. Check your state laws on that issue. Otherwise, make your pet people carry insurance and have them sign a liability language (although the insurance policy is what matters because their agreeing to be liable often means little)

As for breed restrictions, we use the exclusions that our insurance company requires. When pressed on breed restrictions for service animals, we rely on the fact that is would not be a reasonable accommodation to pay thousands of dollars extra per year or shop for a new insurance policy because a tenant wants to keep their emotional support Rottweiler. 

One other thing to be concerned with is clean up of pet waste. Unless you are there to monitor your tenants will be lazy and not clean up. We just rolled out Poo Prints at one of our properties recently which DNA tests dogs so hopefully it helps. We will know more when Spring comes on that

I've not had any damage over the years when I've rented to tenants with pets, perhaps I have been lucky.

Allow small dog breeds and cats. Most of the damage will likely be on your tenants own furniture. Worst I've seen is friend's dog chew trim. Though this is easily fixed out of security bond.

Include in your ad that nuisance pets (barking, aggression) is not acceptable, include this also in your agreement. If this is legal in your area to do so.

Originally posted by @Michael Wegner :

@John Lenhart Thank you for the help man. I appreciate it! How much did installing the poo prints cost you? That a pretty interesting idea - I did not think about the waste build up at all, great point. 

 I forget exactly, I believe it is like $75 per dog to do the initial DNA swab and registry and send it to the lab. Then each time you have a sample and run it, it costs another $75 or $100. We have not had to do this yet. We make the tenants sign an addendum and let them know that the fine for not picking up after their dogs is $400 per occurrence. So far no one has tried to test us on this yet. In the past, they all claimed plausible deniability when confronted. They cant do that anymore. 

@Wendy Brockman thanks for your input. It seems to me that the majority of people who rent to pet owners do avoid the major damage if they are doing their own due diligence when it comes to screening properly, making your properties as pet proof as possible, quarterly or at least bi-yearly inspections, etc. 

Thanks for the nugget on nuisance! I know from years of renting how annoying it is to hear another persons dog bark all day long. I am hoping I can screen for these things during "Pet interviews". 

@Michael Wegner   I have never had issues with pets.  One tenant kept her dog food in an enclosed trash can in the back hall and her dog scratched the back door a lot when he was hungry.  

As for your liability, I would make sure you insurance covers things like bodily harm done by animals, and also require your tenants to carry insurance that covers the same.  Per this article from a couple years ago, it sounds like most renters insurance covers their animals and damage their animal may do to person or property, but you need to confirm that have it to protect yourself.

And as @John Lenhart mentioned, adding rules and fees to keep common areas clean and tidy are well worth it.