Roofs with Meows and Woofs, do you allow pets in your rental properties?

11 Replies

I am a Real Estate Agent however, I do not typically handle rental properties.  My perspective on this question/discussion is as a tenant. 

You might find it odd that a Real Estate Agent doesn't own her home, that's a story for another day.  Suffice to say that when my family and I moved to Newton in September of 2013 our biggest issue was finding a landlord that would agree to even consider renting to a family that has two dogs, a cat and a very large bird not to mention two teenagers!

It got to the point where I actually considered becoming one of those people who gives up their pet in order to find appropriate housing.  Instead I ended up paying very high rent for a house in not the best location (safe, just not fun being near a businesses delivery door). 

What I would very much like to have a serious discussion about is the specific reasons why a landlord will not rent to pets and what (if anything) might change your mind?

Real Estate Agents are trained to handle all types of objections in seminars, webinars, trainings, mentorships etc and in all of the objection handling training I've received, none has ever been about trying to handle the pet objection of landlords.  

The ones I can think of are: 

  • allergies (other tenants might be allergic)
  • noise (my bird is the noisy one in our household)
  • property damage (yes, the little dog who is from California, pees in the house sometimes..ugh)
  • Fear (my big dog is 110 pound black lab) of Dogs/Cats/Animals
  • Fear of lawsuits if the animal hurts someone else

I'd like to discuss what can be done to alleviate these and any other objections as much as possible.  

You might ask why allow pets.. and that's a good question we can discuss as well. 

RJ Reynolds, Real Estate Agent in MA (#111679)

We do not allow pets in our multi family properties because people as a whole people want to live in a place that is quiet.  If you are not a pet owner than dealing with another tenants loud pet is a very big inconvenience.

I don't think any landlord wants a quality tenant moving out because there is a dog scratching above them or making noise, so if you can just prevent that by not allowing pets than that's what you will do.

Also, once one tenant sees another has a pet than everyone wants to get one and before you know it your property turns into Ace Ventura's apartment.

The damage the pet will cause is less of an issue for me because if we even consider a pet in a SFR it is going to be for a rockstar tenant candidate who will be willing to give 2 months security because of the pets. That quality of tenant tends to take better care of the property as a whole.

Michael Noto, Real Estate Agent in CT (#RES.0799665)
860-384-7570

I allow pets. I would be placing myself at a significant disadvantage if I did not do so, because in this market, people expect to be allowed to have pets when renting a SFR. That is one of the key things that differentiates a house from an apartment in many people's minds.

Liability is not a concern as long as the insurance company's requirements are met.  For me, the "banned breed" list is very short.  No pits, rotties or part-wolves.  I have family members who try the "ban the behavior, not the breed!" crap with me, and I just tell them to take it up with the insurance companies.  (I also occasionally mention that insurance companies make the decisions they do on the basis of a hell of a lot of information, and so may in fact know more about pits than the idiots who pick one up at the shelter and have their toddler wrestling with it a week later.)

This is one area where statutory limitations on security deposits can hurt tenants.  I cannot take two months security deposit, pet or no pet.  And I can't get around that be calling it a pet deposit or some such.  So I cannot do as Michael suggests (neither can he, with any tenant over 62.)

All that said, while I am very pro-pet, 4 animals for a renter is a concern to me.  I'd still allow it, but be watching closely for damage.  We had pets when we rented, but never more than one at a time.

I do allow pets in the rental I have, including large dogs.  In fact, I had one set of previous tenants that had an 80 lb. Lab.  But this particular rental is more amenable for pets than probably a lot of other rental homes.  There is a large, totally fenced in backyard.  And there are no carpets in the rental...just tile and wood laminate.

You've definitely hit the nail on the head as to why most LLs don't allow pets.  Potential property damage is the biggest one.  I've read horror stories on here where animal urine has not only completely ruined floors, but has sometimes even ruined the sub flooring.  Certainly that is a VERY expensive repair that most security deposits won't even come close to covering. 

Unfortunately, this is a completely non-negotiable issue for many LL's, which is why you are having a lot of problems.  Your best bet would be to be prepared to offer a larger security deposit, focus on how well behaved your animals are (if they are well behaved), and I would definitely focus on SFHs, rather than multis or apartment complexes, because of the loud bird.

In my specific situation, I may not have a problem with most dogs/cats, but I would never allow a tenant with a bird.  I own a duplex, share an interior wall with my tenants, and I do find most birds to be loud, obnoxious, and shrill.   

There are lots of threads already on here discussing pet/no pet pros and cons, so searching for it may help answer your question.  But looks like you've already listed the main ones.   I will say that the main issue for me, as I've had to re-evaluate my "well-trained family dog allowed" policy since I've gone to using a PM (and I can't evaluate the pet for myself from out of state), is that most states limit the maximum deposit allowed.   I'd be more comfortable allowing multiple pets if I could charge a large refundable security deposit, as a smaller non-refundable pet fee and pet rent doesn't incentivize the tenant to keep up the property.  Responsible owners would get most of it back, but I'd be protected from the ones that let their animals destroy the house.  I currently have one home where I allow 2 dogs because one of the tenants stays at home and they are very well-trained dogs (been there 4 years now, working well so far), and the carpet was already older, so not a big expense risk there.   I know several families with multiple pets like you mention having -- dogs, cats, birds, etc. -- and only one of them keeps their home clean enough that it doesn't smell like a zoo, so I won't allow it in my property.  Too blunt, maybe, but true.       

I allow pets in my rentals.  I am an animal-lover and don't want these pets getting dumped off at the shelter.  Having said that, I make sure the properties are kept neat and clean, no feces around the property, etc.  By being a pet-friendly Landlord, I have access to a larger pool of potential Tenants.  As for the excuse that pets cause damage, IMHO children cause a lot more damage than pets.  I'll take a pet over a child any day.

Hello all,

We have 2 triplexes, and allow cats but not dogs.  The second one we bought had a tenant with 2 small dogs in it- they were couped up all day, messed on the floor, and barked a lot.  They made it difficult to see the property before we bought it and impossible to show it to potential tenants.  They scratched up the wood doors in the unit and messed on the carpet.  Before I saw all that, I probably would have considered allowing small dogs.  

We just looked at another MF this weekend with a large dog in one of the units who growled at us so we left immediately.  I don't blame the dog- we were entering his home without his owner there, my dogs would have growled too.  If we purchase the place that lease will not be renewed with the dog on it- dangerous for us to do any repairs, not appealing to others in the building who must share an entrance with this apartment.  Same building had guinea pigs in another unit, I am not the biggest fan of that since they can escape and do damage or die somewhere you can't get to them, but less chance of that with those than with hamsters!

If we had a SF home I would consider dogs (one or two) with a larger security deposit.  I have 2 labs myself and think that all dogs, particularly large ones, need a place to run outside.  None of the MF we own or are looking at really have much outdoor space for this.

Kelly

I appreciate all the responses, even the blunt ones :)

Thank you all very much.  My goal is not so much for myself as I'll be buying my next home, however I do want to influence others.  If there are issues that can be solved to the satisfaction of the landlord then I'd like to find it and fix it.

For example, there are many concerns about damage which I completely understand as Dogs scratch at doors and their nails can scuff up hardwood.  As a responsible pet owner I take reasonable precautions AND as someone who typically owns her own home and is simply in transition, I am ready and willing to repair the damage or pay for the repair. That said, I also know that there are 'tenant friendly' laws which may prevent the appropriate recourse for landlords which is to be able to hold a larger deposit against damage or something like that.  I intend to learn more about that in hopes of finding a solution that will work for at least some tenants & landlords. If it requires changing the laws it might take longer but I believe it's worth doing to keep pets with their people. 

Of course as soon as I become a landlord, I'll have yet another perspective. I was one once upon a time and allowed pets without difficulty. Perhaps I was just lucky.

note: as a foster parent, we were not allowed to have certain breeds either so it's not just insurance that has concerns.

RJ Reynolds, Real Estate Agent in MA (#111679)

When it comes to the "small dog" question I must say I was amused that so many landlords, if they allowed pets, had a "small dog only" policy.  All I could think was "these people have never had a small dog".  Small dogs are great but I'm a big dog person myself. Our small dog was inherited and is wonderful to have around but phew, small dogs require so much attention!  Meanwhile our big dog is quiet, respectful and only barks for good reason (intruder alert for example...).  It's just been my experience with dogs over the decades that the big ones are less noisy & damaging and yes, I'm assuming responsible dog ownership & training.

It also surprised me that more landlords did NOT have a problem with my bird. Yes, birds can be noisy and when they start screaming for whatever reason, if there is no one home to discipline them, they can keep going and going and going...  Also, if the birds owner aren't careful to monitor them when out of cage, they can do a significant amount of damage to woodwork.

Good discussion, thanks all, I'm searching for the other threads and digesting as much as I can.  I don't expect all landlords in every situation to allow all pets and I do want to find ways to convince more landlords to allow at least some pets if at all possible.  

RJ Reynolds, Real Estate Agent in MA (#111679)

I do not allow any type of pets at all.

I can give 80,000 good reasons.

All of them have $ signs attached.

That is the aggregate of damages I have incurred with pet damages.

Not just "no" to pets, what about fleas!  Controlling them is a nightmare and the tenant may call you constantly about fumigating!

Originally posted by @Amy L. :

Not just "no" to pets, what about fleas!  Controlling them is a nightmare and the tenant may call you constantly about fumigating!

 Good point, especially in a multi-unit situation.  I've been in flea infestations and have a very bad reaction now when fleas show up. Fortunately, that means I know immediately if they show up!  Fleas are a fact of life AND do NOT have to become a part of the home as long as correct precautions are taken.  I wonder if it's possible to have a clause requiring the tenant to be responsible for any infestations brought about by the presence of a pet.

Something to think about....

RJ Reynolds, Real Estate Agent in MA (#111679)