Should You Allow Pets in Your Rentals?
As a rental property owner, it’s your choice whether or not you want to allow tenants to have pets. You may have struggled with trying to figure out how to handle this sensitive issue. It’s a touchy subject because people—and Americans in particular—are very attached to their pets.
An estimated 68 percent of American households own pets, according to a survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association. Of those, over 60 million U.S. households own one or more dogs and over 47 million own at least one cat. (Other categories include reptiles, birds and fish, each of which pose less of an issue and aren’t the subject of this discussion.)
American pet owners aren’t restrained about spending money on their pets, either. In 2018 alone, over $72 billion was spent on pet-related expenditures like food, supplies, live animal purchases, veterinary care and more.
The Advantages of Allowing Pets in Your Rental Properties
Statistically, it’s apparent that landlords who allow pets may be able to attract an estimated 50% more of the tenant pool than landlords who disallow pets. But are there more advantages of allowing pets in your rental properties? It appears so.
Safety and Security
However you may feel about dogs, a canine presence has been shown to deter would-be criminals. In a study, a group of former opportunistic burglars report that if a residence has a barking dog, they’ll choose a different target. While you may not choose to allow dogs for this reason alone, it does present an advantage by keeping your rental property a little bit safer.
It’s common practice for landlords who allow pets in rental properties to charge a non-refundable “pet fee.” Pet owners are accustomed to this charge and scarcely balk at pet fees ranging from $100 to $300. It’s also now becoming increasingly common for landlords to charge extra monthly rent for tenants with pets. This extra amount is typically in the neighborhood of between $15 and $20 each month. Again, pet owners readily pay extra so their pets can reside with them in a certain rental.
The extra revenue that this affords pet-friendly landlords can be considerable. If you take into account that the pet fee is non-refundable, it makes a lot of sense to consider allowing pets in your rental properties. Granted, you may need to spend some of that extra revenue on pet-related repairs, but the odds are with you that you’ll profit monetarily from allowing pets in your rentals.
Goodwill and Ethics
When considering whether to allow pets in rentals, landlords shouldn’t minimize the goodwill and ethical advantages of being pet-friendly. Pet homelessness is a thing. Over 6 million dogs and cats enter animal shelters every year for one reason or another, according to the ASPCA. Of those, 1.5 million are euthanized due to overcrowding. These numbers are upsetting for animal lovers, but they’re just one more reason to consider allowing pets in your rentals.
Prospective tenants faced with not being able to find pet-friendly housing are often forced to give up their family pet to a shelter. A child may have to give up their “best friend” if mom can’t find a rental near her work that allows dogs. An elderly woman may have to give her only companion to a neighbor if she needs to move into a cheaper rental that won’t let her bring her cat. This isn’t meant to tear at your heart strings; rather it’s intended to humanize your decision. The hard truth is, if you choose to refuse pets in your rentals, you could be inadvertently breaking up a family.
Arguments For Disallowing Pets in Your Rentals
On the flip side, there are strong, rational arguments for disallowing pets in your rentals. Many landlords choose to enforce a no-pets rule, and they have valid reasons for doing so.
Disruption For Neighbors
Neighbor tenants with or without pets may have their peace and quiet disrupted by other tenants’ pets. Barking dogs in particular have a reputation for causing tenant complaints that lead straight back to the landlord’s ears. Even cats can be a source of disruption. Tenants who put out bird seed or squirrel nuts won’t like to see the wildlife hunted down by the neighbor’s indoor/outdoor cat.
There’s a greater likelihood that your rental property will suffer some sort of pet-related damage if you offer a pet-friendly rental. The damage could be as minimal as a carpet stain, or it could be as full-blown as having an interior door destroyed by claw marks. When it comes to causing property damage, cats and dogs are equally capable. “Accident” odors can permeate flooring materials, overgrown claws can ruin upholstered and wood furniture in a furnished rental, and the list goes on. Property damage from pets doesn’t happen all the time. When it does, it’s sometimes the pet owners who are responsible due to poor pet training and insufficient discipline. But pet-related property damage does happen, and it’s a reasonable argument against allowing pets in your rental property.
Yet another argument for disallowing pets in your rentals is the increased likelihood of pest infestations. It’s a fact that fleas and ticks are brought into homes by cats and dogs. Even the most vigilant pet owners may find themselves fighting fleas that have taken up residence inside your rental property. If there’s carpeting in your rental, the odds are high that the fleas will never truly be gotten rid of. They may simply go through their generational life cycles and turn up again net season to pester your next tenant, who may not even have a pet.
It’s completely up to you whether you want to let tenants keep pets in your rental properties. Hopefully this has given you insight into both sides of the issue. Each side has valid reasons, but ultimately the choice is yours.