Does Allowing Pets in Your Rentals Make Sense (or Just Scents)?

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To be quite honest, in my close to 30 years in property management, I’ve never had a problem with pets. My problems have always been with the pet’s owners.

For example, it’s usually not the pet who doesn’t change the litter box, and it isn’t the pet’s idea to have 8 dogs in one apartment. Yes, that has actually happened to me. I had bought a duplex once, with two one-bedroom units, where I inherited a tenant with one dog who suddenly had a record-setting eight pups. The funny thing was that my tenant decided she wanted to try and keep them all. People are crazy. Obviously, the idea of turning a one-bedroom apartment into a kennel didn’t work out very well.

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No Pet Policies

I’ve heard many of the super landlords talk about how they have these “no pets” policies; they’re the type with zero tolerance. One guy I know claims he walks through his apartment building unannounced with a dog whistle trying to catch unsuspecting tenants. This may be taking it to a new level, but I do agree to a point.

Related: 4 Things to Check Before Allowing Pets in Your Rental Property

I have a no pet policy too, especially if I have a newer unit that’s in high demand or a unit that’s just been renovated with a lot of new carpet and flooring. Other than a seeing-eye dog, my first inclination is “no pets.”

When Pets Make Cents

Still, there are scenarios when pets can actually make you money. For example, when I’m looking at a rental property to purchase, one that has a strong pet odor can be bought at a good discount.

There are ways to get rid of the odor in most cases, whether that’s removing the carpet, sealing the floor, or using a product like OdorExit to mask the bad smell. It’s pretty rare that you would have to replace wood, as you can usually encapsulate it, or in other words, seal it off. Anyone who’s done a fire restoration job would know what I mean.

There are some other scenarios that make sense too. Maybe you have a property that’s tougher than normal to rent or isn’t in the safest area. Maybe you can charge a pet deposit or a monthly fee.

If you catch a tenant with a pet, this may be a good solution. If the unit had a previous tenant with a pet or the carpet is on the way out, maybe pets would work out okay in this scenario, and you could get some extra cash flow.

Paying pet fees is not a logical thing; it’s an emotional one. To many people, their pet is a family member for which expenses are considered well worth it.

Know When to Draw the Line

That being said, there are times when we all have to draw line, and for many, the line is at wild animals, reptiles, or dangerous breeds.

Related: Why I Allow Pets in My Rental Properties

Please note that many homeowner and landlord insurance policies will not cover you with these types of situations, so be sure to check with your provider. Also, this is a good reason to explain to your tenant why it may be an unacceptable situation.

And, of course, insurance policies only cover legal activity, so it’s the landlord’s responsibility to stay up-to-date on any municipality or deed restrictions in regard to pets.

For example, I have several rentals in a town that banned reptiles after a large snake ate the neighbor’s small dog.

As you can see, it’s a crazy world property managers live in.

So, what’s your craziest pet story? What is your policy when it comes to pets in rentals?

Be sure to leave a comment, and let’s discuss.

About Author

Dave Van Horn

Dave Van Horn is President at PPR The Note Co. - an operating entity that manages several funds that buy/sell/hold residential mortgages, both performing and delinquent. Dave has been in the Real Estate business for over 25 years, starting out as a Realtor and contractor and moving onto everything from fix and flips to Raising Private Money.


  1. nicole carey

    As an animal lover and owner of two rescue dogs, I cringe every time I hear “dangerous breed”. I understand the no pet policy, but if you are going to allow some, why not a case by case basis rather than the breed? I know plenty of mellow pittie mixes and plenty of crazy little yappy dogs.

  2. Roy N.


    Sadly, the need to remove the wood (subfloor even) is not rare enough. We use to allow pets in non-rehabbed units, but no longer.

    At the moment we are looking at two SFHs we would ultimately tear down and replace with a multi-unit building. Both of these house currently have pets and, since we do not plan on keeping them, we would rent allowing pets until it was time to demo.

  3. Andrew Weikel

    I’m currently in the process of buying an almost turnkey rental. I’ve spoken with a guy that may be interested in renting it if everything works out. I’ve been trying to figure out what to do as far as charging the himfor his two small dogs. I was thinking somewhere between $30-50/month, and also raising the deposit from the one months rent ($850), to $1000.

    Thoughts? Recommendations?

      • No one mentioned barking! I allow pets in a SFR with a $250 per pet deposit. It’s theoretically for outside dogs only, but hard to monitor. When my current tenant isn’t home, sometimes his dog barks for 15 minutes straight, bothering me and neighbors. After 20 minutes it is a misdemeanor and the police can be called, but not a great solution. Best to work with the owner, relocate the dog, muzzle, electric shock collar. Calling the owner on his cell phone when the barking happens is fairly effective.

    • Dave Van Horn

      I think these numbers are pretty reasonable. Every situation is a case by case basis, and if you need a tenant bad enough some times the deposit alone could be enough. Some landlords try to check out where the prospective tenant is currently residing (maybe by dropping off the lease at their residence) to see how well their place is kept with said pets.


  4. William Morrison

    The deposit issue can be a state by state or even a county by county limit. And you may have to be separate from the basic deposit.
    Our County limits the deposit for the renter but allows a separate pet deposit.
    We use $400 to $500. Now our County also requires we pay interest on both deposits and the deposits cannot be commingled with any other funds. So the tenants we rented to with pets have been ok with it.
    It’s big enough to provide an incentive for the tenant to take some care. We have had to repair or replace a door using that money. Some keep their dog in the garage say, and dog scratches at the door when left there.

    Just a side note, the interest rate is set by the county and has been a couple percent higher than the going rate for the last few years and we are required to make up the difference. Thanks “Bank Bailout” zero percent

  5. Matt Slakey

    According to fair housing rules in Oregon, “therapy animals” are not subject to “no pets” and “pet rent” rules.

    Quoting the Fair Housing Council of Oregon:
    “For Fair Housing purposes, the terms “assistance animal,” “therapy animal,” “service animal,” and “companion animal” are interchangeable, and none of which should ever be considered a “pet.”

    “The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog, or
    other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. If they meet
    this definition, animals are considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they
    have been licensed or certified by a state or local government.

    This applies animals that are:

    “…Providing emotional support.”

    Doesn’t every (loved) pet provide emotional support?

  6. Robert Steele on

    Is this conversation limited to apartments or does it include SFH’s too?

    It seems to me that is one of the reasons people rent houses over apartments – so they can have pets.

    So keep saying “no pets” to all those looking to rent a house as it means more demand for me 😉

  7. Colin Smith

    Pets are definitely a tricky subject. You know they will do damage to the property, but allowing them also opens up the possibility for more rent and more availability of tenants… Always a tough decision!

  8. Katie Rogers on

    When I was a tenant, I always appreciated landlords who allowed pets at no extra cost. I never left an apartment with any evidence there had been a dog or cat. I especially appreciated the landlord who left me raise a guide dog puppy in the apartment at no extra cost. Since so many blind people live in apartments, agencies that provide guide dogs really prefer that their puppies be raised in a similar environment to the one where they will eventually be assigned.

    On the other hand, I looked at an 8-unit building that allowed dogs, and the smell was horrific.

    • William Morrison

      Katie, If asked I might wave the monthly increase for someone raising a guide dog. I have a lab and a Golden before that. I have a friend that raises/trains guide dogs (labs) with his daughters. I was looking for a reject. They seem to fail for being less business than required but still great dogs. I found there is a long waiting list. I got a rescue instead.

      I would still set the increased deposit. Everyone sounds great when making promises but not always so good in the end. We pay a county set rate on the deposit. I think it’s 4% so not all bad.

      We have had one tenant for 4 or 5 years. The house is kept better than ours. I would probably think about it with her. But we have a track record. You just don’t have that with a new tenant.

  9. We typically recommend that our clients allow pets because it dramatically increases the pool of potential tenants. Surveys show that as many as 90 percent of renters have pets. The key is ensure you screen, screen, screen to find a responsible tenant. This may also include doing a background check on the pet by calling the vet and prior landlords. Extra deposits, where allowed by law, and pet fees provide an extra layer of protection. Be sure you also have crystal clear pet policies outlining expectations for noise, waste disposal, damage, limits on numbers of pets, and other critical issues.

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