Tenant wants a small dog

24 Replies

Hello BP, my tenants in California would like to get a small hypoallergenic dog. I love dogs and see no issue with this but would like to know how to proceed in terms of the month to month lease they are on and if it needs to be changed, the liability that could fall onto me, any documents I should have sent to me like shots and so on. Thank you!

I can say from experience that very very few tenants truly take care of their dogs well and you will likely have some damage or adverse affect to deal with from it. Even small hypoallergenic dogs. Given that, charge monthly pet rent (in NH we cannot charge a pet deposit order but can monthly pet rent is allowed, check your state). Do quarterly inspections to prevent damage from persisting.

Animals will just about always cause problems. It’s frustrating because I love dogs too... except I walk mine 3 times a day, many dogs are cooped up in doors all day and it’s awful.

There is a very good chance you will have some repairs due to the animal. I recommend you have a pet rider on the lease, that addresses a non refundable fee for cleaning, monthly pet fee or increase in the lease payment, and the rider needs to specifically address what the liability and costs are if there are damages, or if carpets have to be replaced instead of cleaned.  You could probably hit up a local broker or property manager to see what is customary in that area.

Unfortunately a lot of people have pets, so you're going to limit your potential rental pool if you don't have some provision that will allow pets.

I kicked out some renters a couple years ago after a quarterly revealed literally piles and piles and PILES of poop in every single room.  It could not be cleaned up - I had to grind 1/2 inch of concrete off the slab to get rid of the stench.  50 pet deposits wouldn't come close to covering that expense.

@Sean Carroll I manage over 300 rentals and completely disagree with Jonathan and Blair. If you screen your applicants properly and they are good prospects, they will likely be good pet owners. They will take care of their pet and take care of any issues caused by their pet. In my experience, far more damage is caused by 5-year-old boys than from dogs, particularly small, hypoallergenic dogs.

When you have a risk, find a way to mitigate it and make more money. In this case, I would start by inspecting the unit to ensure the tenant is already taking care of things. If it's nice now, there is a 99% chance it will stay nice even with the addition of the dog. You could limit the tenant to one dog under 15 pounds. Charge a non-refundable fee (if allowed) and then an increase to the monthly rent (I recommend $50). The rent alone is an extra $600 a year which will more than pay for any door scratches you may incur from such a small animal.

Make sure you have this all in writing. You can search Google (or BP) for "Pet Lease Addendum" and find plenty of samples or just get one from a local attorney.

I agree with @Nathan G. So far dogs haven’t really been an issue for me. I had inherited tenants that had a pitbull (that I was unaware of) and didn’t have any issues with that, so I can’t imagine it being much worse

@Nathan G.   to each their own, and I'm convinced that humans are much more capable than a dog of trashing a property, but I have yet to do a moveout inspection of a pet-occupied property and not have at least some kind of animal related mess or damage to deal with.  Many tenants will clean up after their pets, but in my experience, often times they will leave a good amount of previously digested pet food on the ground - hopefully outside.

You are right - it is a risk, and like i said, if you don't take that risk, you really limit your potential renter pool.

Often times these repairs are minor like scratches on the door or chewed baseboards, but without the animal those scratches and the expenses wouldn't be there.  Probably a circular argument because without the pet, I might not have a tenant, and many tenants have pets, so if you don't allow pets.. and on and on...

$600 would have covered about 8% of the clean up on my poop house. 

I allow pets. So far no major issues. Pets increase NOI and I gladly accept them. I require a renters policy. My insurance company states they have a list of 10 or 12 breeds they do not cover.

@Blair Poelman honest question: what did the tenant application look like? Decent credit? Landlord reference? Good income with long-term employment? Were there no signs to indicate this person was a bad choice? How long did you go between inspections? Did they pay rent on time, take care of the landscaping, and otherwise seem like good tenants?

I'm seriously curious because I've known thousands of tenants with pets and none of them would willingly allow a dog to crap in the house regularly over a long period of time. Even my worst tenants that get behind on rent or have other issues still don't get this bad.

I would allow the dog only if they submit proof the the dog is spayed or neutered. It shows that they are responsible owners, will prevent puppies in your property, and dogs make less mess when they are fixed. Also make sure that your homeowners policy covers the dog and that the tenants have renters insurance which covers the dog. This is how we handle pets and have not had issues.

@Nathan G.   tenant passed background check, referrals were good, credit score was right about where it should be to live in that area.  No evictions, no criminal history, no negative credit hits for any previous rental damages.  She is a casino worker, he is a cab driver, no kids.  Just regular people (so I thought),  gave no reason to expect that kind of behavior.

That deal was by far the most extreme tenant related damage case I've had.  It's uncommon, but it happens.  Silver lining is I picked up the place for less than 55k at the trustee sale in livable condition - renters were there for nearly 4 years at $1200 /month. After they bounced I rehabbed and sold at 126k.  It sucked to deal with such a mess, but it was still a cash positive deal.  Now we just need the market to crash again so these deals come back.

$100/ dog monthly. Add this amount to deposit also. Use pet addendum allowing you to evict animal without evicting owner (doesn’t absolve them of rent obligation). Inspect 3x first 3 months. Quarterly after that. Needs to be licensed at all times. Confirm tenant insurance with animal coverage 2x annually.

Excellent profit centre of done correctly.

I allowed a small dog in one of my rentals and I regret it. Reason being is the lady does not walk the dog. She uses those pee pads and it's horrible. But seeing as I already allowed it and I didn't have that provision in the lease, I have to deal with it until she is ready to move out. Sometimes the front hallway smells like pee =(

Make sure you put that the dog must be walked.  No PEE PADS!

We have found that accepting pets conditionally, after an in-person interview by me, is a key differentiator in our market.

Most landlords in our market will not consider pets of any kind.

We get higher rents and longer term tenants as a result.

We do not charge pet specific fees but simply charge higher rents in general for our flexibility.

If I am not comfortable with a pet then the prospective tenant is out of luck.

\  Now we just need the market to crash again so these deals come back.

Jeez.  I hope that's a joke.  We got started picking up foreclosures but I wouldn't wish the pain this country suffered on my worst enemy.

I have had many tenants with dogs where there was no visible damage caused by the dog.  I have had tenants with a small amount of damage caused by the dog.  However, I had one tenant the dog destroyed most of the interior doors, much of the drywall in the dining room, dug up/killed all the grass in the rear, and dug up the pavers in the rear.  There were holes at least 2' deep (maybe 3') that had a diameter big enough for a spa.  It appeared that the tenant did not clean up after the dog once after giving their notice.

I do not blame the dog; I blame the tenant.  Dogs need to be trained.  They need to be disciplined.  They need to be exercised.  They should not be locked in a kitchen/dining room unsupervised and not crated prior to them being trained.

I have a dog.  Our units with their own fenced yards allow dogs.  Units without yards or with a shared yard do not allow dogs.  We charge pet rent and a pet deposit for the tenants with dogs.  Mostly the tenants dogs have not been an issue.

I have a pet peeve about owners claiming bogus emotional support animals.   I especially resent it when they are renting a zero dog unit.  Mostly I push back but if that does not work it is the most sure way for my tenant to end up with above market rents.  Problem usually vanishes fairly fast.

I do not allow pets under 1 year because so many people want a dog and have NO IDEA how much work it is to train a puppy.

@Blair Poelman @Nathan G.


I’m glad you’re having better luck than I am with pet owners! I’ve had several tenants who are clean cut working professionals making six figures who don’t take care of their pets. Most paid on time as well and were very friendly, yet they didn’t take care of their pets well!

I also have bad memories from cleaning apartments with my dad when I was a kid and dealing with some of the awful tenant turnovers with pets. Albeit, it was a less desirable area, so in some ways to be expected. I do find that tenants with pets stay longer though.

I’m happy to see various opinions and experiences, healthy dialogue for the OP.


@Sean Carroll - allowing pets is a business decision that I based off of some numbers that I recently read. According to Zillow, only 27% of apartments in the U.S. allow pets (current data). 

On the other hand, a 2014 survey stated that 72% of renters owned pets. In 2017, a similar survey put that number at 32%. Looking at those numbers, I would say that there is a shortage of apartments that allow pets... and I want to take those tenants for myself!

If you charge $50 per pet per month, you're looking at $600 more per year in rent. If your state allows, you can add in a non-refundable fee up front. Yes, there can be more expenses involving pets - but that's what tenant screening is for. No, it won't weed out all of the bad tenants - but a solid screening plus a strong lease can mitigate the risks.

Since there is a lack of apartments that allow pets, these tenants usually expect to pay more per month so they usually won't bat an eye over paying an extra $50.

One major reason why I allow pets: less vacancy time. Since there's a relatively high demand for pet-friendly apartments, I usually have a list of people who apply. Once I have good tenants in, they usually renew their lease because of the difficulty in finding another apartment that will allow pets.

Bottom line: increased income for me, less vacancy rates for my rentals, at the cost of ensuring that my tenant-screening and lease are both iron-clad (or as close as I can get).

I have a small hypoallergenic dog, a Labradoodle.    She has peed in the house, chewed numerous pairs of shoes, and started a fire by lighting the stove in our absence.  She lit the burner which had a piece of chicken on it she smelled, fortunately the fire did not spread, although the chicken was completely charred.  Just another item to think about.

I charge an extra $25 a month and a non refundable $250.00 pet fee. Works good for me, as long as you do inspections to your property. The fact that I allow any pets, even with the extra cost, is a draw to my properties because others in the area don't

The majority of my residents have dogs.  68% of US households now have a dog so by not allowing dogs you are going to find it a lot harder to find qualified tenants.  I have not had any issues so far, and by allowing them I feel like people are less prone to want to move and deal with finding a property that accepts them.

  • I charge $300/refundable deposit per dog (max of 2)
  • $35/month per pet

After we meet the dog and feel he's a well manor'd animal. We simply have them sign our pet addendum which spells out all the rules, we charge them a pet deposit and additional pet rent.