How To Do A Pet Interview And Why All Landlords Should
The tenants you decided to rent your unit to are a perfect fit. Yet will the four footed member of the family meet your approval? Savvy landlords always interview pets prior to move-in, mainly because they need to know the pet's personality and how it behaves around people. Even if the dog, for example, fits your criteria (non-aggressive breed, weighs under 35 pounds), it still doesn't tell you what the animal is like. Will it bark and bare teeth around young children? Will the vendors you send out to do repairs sue you after being bit?
Don't make the mistake of relying on the family's own description of the animal's demeanor; They are simply too biased. Do it yourself. The meet and greet takes only minutes. The key to determining if your tenant has a friendly, non-aggressive dog is how you set the interview up.
Set Up The Meeting At The Property
Avoid meeting at the tenant's current residence. A stranger approaching the dog on its own turf will cause the most even-tempered animals to bark and bare teeth because they are defending their space. Setting up the meeting at the property not only gives the animal a chance to check out the new sights and smells of the place but gives it the ability to relax without feeling the need to protect his home.
Meet The Owner
Pets can sense if its owner feels threatened by you and will respond accordingly. Prior to your meeting, ask the owner a few questions about the dog (what is its name, is it a male or female, breed type, etc.) to show interest and build rapport. This will help put them at ease. Before you meet, request the animal be on a leash for safety and convenience. In fact, you should include in your lease that the animal be on a leash at all times while outside on the property. At the meeting, wait for the owner to approach you. Hold out your hand, smile, and greet the owner with a friendly handshake.
Greet The Pet
Approach the animal slowly and ask the owner if (pet's name) would like the treat you brought for him. Always ask the owner first because the dog may be on a special diet. Produce the treat and give it to the dog. This step is key to the whole interview. A dog that is not faced with a threat should receive you by wagging its tail or licking your hand. However, if the dog is baring teeth, growling or acting in an aggressive manner, you do not want this animal in your unit. Why? In setting up your interview, you have removed the three reasons for the animal to feel threatened by you:
1) The animal is away from his home
2) The animal is with its owner
3) The owner is not perceiving you as a threat. If the pet behaves badly, then aggression is ingrained in that animal's personality and it cannot be trusted around people.
Make Your Decision
The interview itself is easy and can be done in less than five minutes. The most difficult part is telling the tenants they are welcome but their dog is not.
If the family pet passes the interview and you agree to allow it, use this as a stepping stone to build a good relationship with the tenant. Let them know you like and accept their pet. It will make them more cooperative with you if any future issues arise surrounding their pet.
For more information on the behaviors of dogs, check out this website:
Note: This article is based on interviewing dogs. There are more liability issues involving dogs because they are more likely to bite, cause injury and death. Another post will soon follow about cats.
Do you ask to see the tenant's pet prior to move in? What other pet criteria do you require from your applicants?