What is Your Policy on Renting to Tenants with Dogs?

107 Replies

We are closing on our first two rental properties next week.  They are turn key ready to rent properties.  We have a few potential renters already.  One is a young couple with a dog.  I have dogs myself and know that they can be messy and destructive to a property.  IMO I would rather not allow dogs at all.  Fellow renters, what is your policy on dogs?  

No dogs, none at all.  Don't care how big or small they are.  No pets at all.  None.  I also have a dog, he's great.  I still wouldn't rent to me.  Plenty of landlords out there who can be the keeper of the dog, why take on that additional problem?

I forget which podcast it was, but there was an investor in Chicago whose niche was people was dogs.  They did well and didn't have many problems.

I allow on a case-by-case basis and there is additional rent per pet...and no more than 2 pets. I want the pet spayed/neutered as well.

We allow pets. Pet free up front with additional pet rent.

we also never instal carper. Vinyl or hardwoods only.

What about dog breeds such as Pit bulls?  For you landlords who allow dogs what is your policy on the breeds that have a bad reputation? 

Until recently when laws here in Maryland were finally changed that do not make landlords liable for dog bites/attacks (of Pits or any breed), I did not allow them. But now I personally will consider it (again, case-by-case). And again, they really should be neutered/spayed. Perhaps meet the dog (of any breed!) before signing a lease. See if the dog is friendly. See if the dog is a yapper and will annoy neighbors with incessant barking. See if the dog knows simple commands. Then you'll get a good idea if you are comfortable or not. Some people let their pets (and kids) just run wild and do whatever they wish....that, you of course don't want.

I currently have one tenant with a Pit-type dog; that dog is a lazy bum. He's always sleeping and doesn't even get up to greet me the times I've come in. So, he's pretty ok in my book. His laziness reminds me of my own Pittie. =P

@Ryan Billingsley   I rent to dog owners, I require a pet deposit and a pet fee. I know many people say no way to pets but I have found people who are willing to pay the extra $ for having pets usually take care of things the same as non pet owners.

@Paul S.    I know not all pets will destroy a rental property.  I own 2 dogs and go the extra mile to clean up after them.  We have a yellow lab that sheds terrible and drools so we are constantly cleaning up after him.  I guess the benefit is if you get a tenant that takes care of your rental and cleans up after their pet it can generate you extra money each month!

I am sure it will be fine

@Ryan Billingsley   I have dogs as well and know it can be a pain trying to find a place that will allow pets. I put tile and wood floors in so the pets do not really mess up the floors but I do check for scratching on the doors when they move out but the pet deposit is supposed to cover that stuff. I know that it is very possible that a dog could do more damage than what the pet deposit can cover but that is a risk I am taking. 

One more thing to consider is where you live, some HOA's do have breed restrictions, something to think about if you have a HOA.

@Nicole W.  brings up a good point that kids can do just as much damage as pets can. Everything depends on the situation and the type of tenants you are looking at putting in the unit.

Yup, it's part of the screening process! Usually good tenants have good pets. Just don't settle for less. I recently had my last vacancy longer than I had hoped, but the applications just weren't up to par (pet or no pet). Finally got the right applicant to come along and she so happens to have an older cat.

It does def help when renters have a hard time finding a place to accept them with pets! Besides, who knows, a person could do even more damage. An angry person can pour cement down your drains. No pet at least would ever do that! ;-)

Account Closed Tells you a lot about the owners of this dog that they are just recording the dog peeing rather than correcting the situation! Or, who knows, maybe the poor dog held it for as long as he could but no one would bother to let him outside.

I have owned rentals for 11yrs now. For the first 9-10yrs I allowed no pets. I noticed I was missing out on a lot of good would be renters such as elderly ladies that had a small dog. Most where I live do not allow pets so I seen opportunity. I asked a friend of mine that does allow pets how he felt about it and how he done it. I followed his advice and only allow 1 small breed dog. Most people follow a weight limit of 10-15lbs max. My deposit for a dog is $450 Non refundable, which wouldnt even cover carpet costs but my rent is $650mo including electric, water, sewer, trash, gas (heat). My lease deposit is same as rent b/c I supply utilities..just fyi. I also have the tenant sign a pet agreement I wrote myself from collecting info online. So far it has been good for the majority with very little issues with one exception which will never happen again. I trusted a guy the first time I allowed pets and he had two house trained blue pits, which according to him were award winning blood line dogs, big mistake. 

So, in my opinion and experience you can tailor this to work for you and see how it goes. I have not had 1 noise complaint from these small breed dog renters and they have mostly been great, clean, tenants. If your super worried about doing it then you could always write your agreement to state "Any damages that occur due to this tenants pet that exceed the pet deposit amount will be paid by the tenant within "X" # of days from the discovered damage by landlord."  ...or something similar. I am not saying you will get it if you go after that person to pay it but it would ward off anyone that claims to have a house broken pet that doesn't..lol

@Jared K.   my pet deposit is $400 non refundable but my rent it $1900 a month and I know the damage amount could easily exceed the $400 but that is just the non-refundable portion, they pay an additional $1900 damage deposit that I can take from for damages and anything above that goes to court.

@Paul S.  Yeah, that is pretty much the same as mine except the amounts on mine are quite lower due to rental market differences. My deposit is same as rent also but in part b/c I include utilities. Glad to see it's done the same by someone else so I am sure the person who posted is appreciative of your post as well.

Traditionally no pets.  

However, I have lots of C class rentals and am cutting out a lot of well-qualified tenants, so I am moving to case-by-case policy (likely small dogs 10-15 #).  Also, I have had several renters bring a pet despite an application saying there is no pet.  At that point, it is not economically efficient to evict or ask to move.  I mainly have SFHs with yards, basements, hardwood and tile, no carpet.  

@Dooreuhn Cee   Carpet does not always do very well in rentals for me especially when pets are involved.

@Paul S.  agreed, thats why i never have it... fortunately most of the rentals have nice hardwood underneath the carpet that can be sanded and restored... saw your earlier comment about floors and I have acquired a property with solid floors that needed remediation because of pets... i guess if neglectful owners let acidic dog piss sit long enough damage is done

@Dooreuhn Cee   agreed some people just do not care. I have heard of issues with cat pee as well.

Originally posted by @Nicole W.:

@Dwayne S. Tells you a lot about the owners of this dog that they are just recording the dog peeing rather than correcting the situation! Or, who knows, maybe the poor dog held it for as long as he could but no one would bother to let him outside.

I have walked into a lot of homes where the urine smell smacked you in the face as soon as you crossed the threshold.  That included a lot of homes neglected by the sellers, who had equity in the property.  I personally wouldn't take on the risk.


I am a pet owner, and have 3 rentals in which 2 are rented to pet owners. I charge them an up-front non-refundable fee per animal, and do not allow any certain breeds/ Big Dogs. A bunch of Home Owner Associations here in Houston, TX have restrictions on Breeds as well. All of rentals have tile throughout so that helps. The last thing you need is for one of your tenant's PitBulls to get out and maul some kid. It's really not about the renter, it's about protecting your investment. I hope this helped.


I have one rental (other side of my duplex) and do allow animals. So far, all the tenants I have had also had at least one dog. Though no cats, so far.

I have no restrictions on the dogs I allow other than no puppies or breeds restricted by my insurance. The insurance part probably doesn't matter for my tenant's animals, but it doesn't hurt to be more cautious.

I've found allowing dogs, even large breed dogs, gives me a real niche in the market. I really get my pick of tenants anytime I have it up for rent. I don't charge an extra pet deposit or an extra rent amount for pets...but it helps justify my charging on the slightly higher side of the rent spectrum.

With all that said, my place is set up well for dog owners. There are no carpets and the backyard is large and fully fenced in.

I've only had damage once from a tenant's dog and, not only was it very minor, but the tenant fixed the damage before she moved out. Her dog had scrached up the front and back door and also chewed some of the trim on the front door and bathroom door. But, like I said, the tenant fixed those issues right before she moved out (did a great job!) and I returned her full security deposit.

You can restrict the size of the dog if you're considering it. Small dog damage can be easier to repair, most of the time. Also see if they've been obedience trained ( ask for certificate). My sister's friend has a pitbull that is obedience trained as well as a certified canine good citizen. She had difficulty finding a rental even with all that. More & more people have pets & need to rent. You might miss out on an otherwise good tenant if you say no pets. One thing to do is maybe a quarterly walk through. Sort of an inspection for the seasons to check for property problems. That way you might can see problems before they get out of hand.

@Brendan Spaar  Yeah, I think a lot of people don't know what the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certification is or that it is from the American Kennel Club. Just FYI for your sister's friend, there is also an advanced CGC test, although, it seems more difficult to find that event hosted. My Pit is also CGC certified and we'll be doing the advanced test as soon as one comes to the area.

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