Smoking and Pets...YES OR NO?

18 Replies

Without being to terrible cynical here, I understand the demographic of what a renter is. Of course there are wonderful renters out there, and there are terrible renters out there too. The middle course or group, I think I have pegged pretty well.

All of my rentals will not have carpet, I will take care of that unless I have no other choice.

I have all of the supplies and means for painting between tenants, so this begs the question.

Do you allow smoking, do you not allow smoking, do you charge for smoking, or do you care?

Where I live you can still smoke in most bars.

I'm curious peoples thoughts.

Also, with pets, same deal. Only as this is a more common charge, do you charge monthly, or in a lump, or both.

Trying to think of ways to increase the monthly cash flow when I near a rent cap.

Smoking is a no and pets depends on the property but generally yes for a higher rent.

It's hard to nail down an exact number but I've read that 50 - 70% of all renters have a pet. Even if it's only 50%, you're losing a big chunk of the market by rejecting pets. Instead you should focus on how you can financially benefit from them. Because pet-friendly rentals are hard to find, renters tend to pay more for them and stay longer. Pets do create an increased risk so figure out how to mitigate that risk by charing non-refundable fees or refundable deposits, increased rent, etc.

As for smokers, reject them. Ensure your lease includes protections for violators and stiff penalties for the additional cleaning required if they violate the terms.

@Nathan G. I agree whole heartedly on the pets. An excellent opportunity for increased cash flow. I agree with the stiff penalties for getting caught smoking, which is good cash. I wonder would 50 more a month to be able to smoke not be better long term if I am painting already.

Guess I'll have to run the numbers for real sometime and see.

I'm a former smoker, I hated going outside.

I've personally never had an issue with pets and have always let them.  Technically, I've made out better with them because I collect a $350 non-refundable pet deposit and I don't believe I've ever had to fix or replace any pet related damage (~7 of 10 tenants I've had).  I've also begun to put in more pet/kid friendly flooring (vinyl, tile) to make it even less of a concern. As @Nathan G. stated, you're also greatly reducing your candidate pool. My personal experience I've had more applicants with pets than without.  I'd take a tenant with a high credit score and a dog over a non-pet owner and an average credit score any day.  Not a perfect analysis, but it seems like responsible owners tend to have better behaved pets.

As far as smoking, I've walked into enough smoker's homes and suffered through the smell and the yellowed molding enough to never want that in a property I own,.  Especially knowing it can still linger when trying to get a new tenant in there. At the very least I'd put in the lease they can't smoke inside with a good way to enforce it.

I have to agree with everyone above. Smoking should be a no simply because of the damage it does to a rental property. It stains the walls and molding and also clogs air vents. I wouldn't recommend allowing smoking because smoke damage makes for a much harder turnover for the next tenant. I also would say yes to pets! At the apartment complex where I worked, we charged a $300 pet fee (non-refundable) and $25/mo. pet rent. It can help you bring in more prospective tenants and increase cash flow. 

My advice would be to:

• Charge a pet fee

• Collecting a month and a half security deposit 

• Ensure that you have an air tight lease 

This can not only help you increase your cash flow, but also help cover any damages by the tenants pets. You may even be able to charge higher rent as pet-friendly rentals are a bit harder to come by depending on your area.

Best of luck!

P.S. Go with a easily replaceable hardwood alternative for flooring

As a former renter and a former smoker, I'm stunned that smoking is so universally rejected. I agree with everything you all are saying, I guess I'm just looking for more ways to have my own niche....with more positive cash flow! Although I'm not sure there's a way to charge for smoking without it still being a loss at turnover.

Thanks everyone!

If it is a SFH or duplex I think it is different. For multi's I am a no on smokers and on pets. Pets for the most part based on my having to rip up subfloor from urine. There is no amount of pet deposit/ deposit or additional rent that can cover that. Walking into a multi that allows pets and smoking or either one is like walking into a filthy sty. You will not attract the best tenants.

I turn away a lot of renters who contact me explain how they have the best pet, so I agree, it makes it more difficult. But I am not a property manager just looking to fill a unit- I want my multi-families to increase in value year after year. And keeping them updated, clean and free of animals places me in a higher market and increases the value of my property. It also allows my tenants the comfort of knowing that their building does not have animals in it if they are allergic, don't want to hear barking or feel like they entered a stable when passing through the common area.

Again- makes it tougher, but better in the long run for me.

My $0.02, pets can be a good additional source of income. They are not a protected class so you can put breed restrictions in place, size restrictions in place, and require additional deposits and monthly rent. Yes, pets could cause added damage but, overall, this should be able to be covered by the additional deposit and monthly fees. I love pets because they are just as likely to cause damage as children are and I can't charge more for them haha.

As far as smoking, I wouldn't recommend that. Once you get that smell into an apartment it is extremely difficult to get rid of which means you may be limited to only renting to more smokers. In addition, it adds a potential fire hazard as well. Our practice is not to rent to smokers even if they "promise" not to smoke inside.

Pets sometimes, but smoking absolutely never. Doesn't matter the class of the property, smoking does irreversible damage. You can just as easily rent to a non smoker, so why rent to a smoker? I don't see any benefit.

In low income areas I don’t allow pets . Your not going to get any more rent and risk replacing flooring and carpet $$which is way more than one months rent !maybe middle class b areas but  Poor people don’t have the best hygiene themselves much less caring for their pets ! Urine and feces will melt right through the floor . Dogs bark they stink up the apartments they rip stuff up when the owner leaves for work ( think of the other tenants) they get fleas and tics they  snap at strangers and sometimes kids they leave poop everywhere and all these issues compound when other families live in the same building and use the same small yard . Getting a 500$ deposit isn’t going to do much if the carpet needs tossed and sub floor replaced  or thevtensnt below moves because they can’t stand the dog barking . I’m sure many LL had great success renting to pet owners but I personally see no reason to take on more problems with people and repairs in a multi family situation 

A lot of good points here. I will highlight my 2 cents as a 15-year LL veteran

Dennis M from Erie makes a solid point - $500 deposit will not cover the extensive damage that a pet can do and the repair work that may need to take care of.

So YES - you can get a little more money with non refundable deposits, or deposits, or higher rent.

BUT actually keeping that money at the end of the day is hard to do.

One thing no one has mentioned - that is that good prop mgt requires regular consistent checking in on the property - even better when you can drop in on a repair when they are not home or not prepared for your visit. This way you can get a real good view of how well or BAD your property is being taken care of.

Cracked windows, torn blinds, trash cig in the yard are all just the tip of the iceberg as to what is really going on in your $80,000 property and what will be required to get it back to A1 shape.

Bottom line - Smoking - No, never. You could allow smoking outside but again - do you have the time to monitor this?

Pets - in the years that I have charged more - it has been a breakeven situation - I charge more but then there's the cleanup and repair required .

The problem is not the pets - it is the irresponsible pet owners who are lazy, cruel and just ignorant.

More important, make sure your lease is up to date, and has all loopholes closed and gives you the advantage in monitoring and determining (sole sayso) in what constitutes "keeping the property clean and presentable at all times."

A lot depends on the income class - lower income renters are 99% likely to not properly care for their pets or manage them appropriately - IE letting them run loose, inside and out, poop anywhere, jump the fence etc.- so that is a no go.

Middle class or high class rents is a judgment call.

The last bottom line - what kind of rent demand do you have in your? The higher the demand, the higher the rents and the more you can dictate terms or get real strict.

If you have a weak demand, it is hard to do this and you're likely to have to get what what you can.

Best of luck,


Only allow pets in my 15 year old rental with a fence.  New rentals?  Never.  No smoking, candles or Scentsy warmers.  I change the air filter at my properties every month so I always know how well the tenants are/aren't keeping the place.

Account Closed,

100% no smoking, ever, it's even in our lease that they forfeit the deposit if it's found in the house.      If you allow smoking,  you'll never get a non-smoker without a full gut/rehab.   Don't allow smokers, just don't!!! 

Pets-- majority of the time yes with a pet fee and pet rent, but depends on the floors and house! 

I have SFRs with fenced yards, and all my ads say that I welcome non-smokers who are responsible dog/cat owners. No negotiation about smokers; I politely wish them good luck in their housing search.

When showing the properties, I find folks are eager to show photos of their dogs/cats and share stories. This usually opens the door to conversations about vet clinics, training, community ordinances, etc. I meet the animals, review current vet records.No dogs/cats under 1 year of age and must be neutered/spayed. No animals with history of biting allowed (per insurance).  

I have no breed or weight restrictions. I charge a  one-time $300 non-refundable fee per household but do not charge monthly "pet rent." There aren't many pet-friendly SFRs in my town, and those that do allow pets generally have breed and weight restrictions and charge monthly fees/rent. Making my properties breed-friendly significantly increased my prospective tenant pool and allowed me to charge higher rent.  

Smoking never allowed inside or out. You can't really police the outside part of it but I had a tenant set the fence on fire in July in Texas so I always ban it. Would I ever take action if I saw a tenant smoking outside? Probably not unless there were butts everywhere but I would do an inside inspection a lot more carefully to see if they were smoking inside. 

Pets I allow in SFR because they are usually nicer with higher rents and people expect to be able to have their pets in a house. 2-4 units no. It creates too much hassle with other tenants and renters in that type of rent range are more likely (not always) to be irresponsible. If it were a high end duplex or something maybe I would consider it but it is a case by case basis.

No on smokers. Every eviction I've had to do or any cash for keys or major problem has been a smoker. It's a risk profile I won't fool with anymore.

And remediation is a lot more than 'painting'. It's also ceilings, window treatments and ductwork. It is a pain.

I'd guess 80% of residence fires are from an idiot and their cigarette in my area. Latest one here was extinguished in a potted plant on the back deck. Or so he thought. A nice quad is no more. No way.