What do you do about pets?

16 Replies

We are fine with a well-trained family dog or 2 (no other pets, no dogs under 1 year), as we've found we tend to have less turnover with tenants with a family dog.  We raise our overall security deposit to 1.5x rent versus normal 1x rent, fully refundable as incentive to care for the property, and we have raised our overall required renters liability insurance to $300,000 minimum.   The specific animal is added to the lease, no other pets, no pet-sitting or guest pets, with the right to treat as an emergency and have removed  any other animal found on  the premises including yard, with any removal charge added to tenant's rent.  We do have breed restrictions per insurance requirements, and we require a pet addendum to the lease where, among other requirements, they agree that any pet damage is not considered normal wear and tear and that they will be held responsible for all damage that could reasonably have been caused by their pet, so we don't have them trying to say the chewed cabinet door or dug-up yard was the neighbor's kid, not their pet.


If I allowed pets, which I do not, I would charge a higher monthly rent and leave it at that. Provided you do regular inspections and repairs, billed to the tenant as you go along, an additional deposit is unnecessary. If on the other hand you do not do regular inspections you should have a significantly higher deposit. It may not be enough but better than nothing. 

Studies vary but you can expect that at least 50% of all renters have a pet. If you automatically reject pets, you automatically lose half your audience.

Instead of flat-out rejection, try to find a way to mitigate the risk and even make more money.

By accepting pets, you set yourself apart from other Landlords and open your property to a wider audience.

Tenants with pets tend to stay longer because they know how hard it is to find a pet-friendly rental.

Tenants with pets tend to pay more.

Most pet owners are good, responsible people that will take care of their animal just like they take care of their children, their cars, and their personal hygiene.

We screen pets using petscreening.com and I highly recommend you look into it. The service is completely free to you, involves no work on your part, and provides an additional layer of security.

After approving the animal, I recommend an up-front pet fee and an increase to the monthly rent. For example, you may charge $200 for the first pet and $100 for a second. Then increase rent $50 a month per pet. Most people will gladly pay this cost to have their pet with them.

NOTE: be careful with your language. A fee is earned and kept; a deposit is refundable. In other words, always charge a pet fee, not a pet deposit that has to be refunded. Also, don't charge monthly "pet rent" because that implies the rent will go down if they get rid of the pet. Simply increase the rent $XX and make it one rent charge without referencing that the increase was due to the pet.

@Leslie Johnson

Pet owners typically stay longer in properties vs non pet owners. Most realize is a hassle finding a place that accepts pets or prefer avoiding to pay another pet fee. As others have mentioned pets will cause damage but a large % of tenants have pets so if you don’t allow them you will lose out on a large pool of applicants and depending on your market it can be significant.. Kids can cause as much damage or more..

I'd look at your market and see if other landlords are allowing pets. If it's pretty common, I'd go for it. $300 non-refundable fee with $15-$25 a month pet rent! I'd also have size and breed restrictions.

I would allow pets but for sure you need to charge more.  You can make the deposit more but you need to also collect more rent.  Just know that the pet will do some sort of damage and you need to understand it.  If you charge appropriately you shouldn't really be out any money.  Just one mans thought.

I allow small pets only. Part of the reason for that is to avoid large menacing dogs. Locally, an elderly gentleman was bit on his porch by a large dog and eventually died. His estate sued the owner of the pet AND the landlord, even though the rental was several blocks away from the incident.

My goals with allowing pets is to increase my pool of qualified tenant applicants, protect my interests, and be respectful of neighboring owners. So, beyond allowing only small pets, I charge a pet deposit currently $100 (but I will be increasing that), a $35 cleaning fee up front, and a $20/month pet rent. I sometimes give a discount on the pet rent if there are multiple pets. My goal isn't to make extra money per se, but to protect myself against loss from pet damage.

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