A Landlord's Guide to Pet-Friendly Rentals: Pros & Cons

By Alicia Geigel on July 16, 2018

As the economy has significantly shifted within the past ten years, an increased amount of people are renting homes/apartments rather than buying. According to a report by Ed Leefedlt of CBS, “Census data showed that over the last decade, homeownership by families, that is, people with minor children, declined by nearly 3.6 million. By contrast, the number of families living in rentals rose by 1.9 million.” With a growing population of renters, it is important to keep track of new services and policies you can offer with your property as a means to appeal to and please prospective and current tenants.

There are several small and simple ways to do this, however, one large-scale way to appeal to tenants is by adopting the more lenient policy of allowing pets on your property. The decision to allow pets on your property is not an easy one, as there are several elements to take into consideration. As a landlord/property manager, you may feel conflicted and overwhelmed with this new option, and want a way to sort through the positives and negatives of such a decision. Don’t worry, my comprehensive list of pros and cons will assist you in making the right choice for your property and your business.

If you are a property manager or landlord looking to appeal to renters and tenants now and in the future, check out this in-depth list of the pros and cons of pet-friendly rentals below!

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What does a “pet-friendly rental” mean?

As a landlord/property manager, it is important to know exactly what the term “pet-friendly” means before pasting it all over on a new rental listing. While it may seem straightforward, there is perhaps one small detail that can get overlooked just due to the wording of the term. Many prospective tenants tend to view a “pet-friendly rental” listing as a shoe-in, guaranteed acceptance of their pet, however, as a landlord/property manager, you can have your rules and boundaries in regards to this term.

According to Dori Einhorn of Einhorn Insurance Agency, “pet-friendly” means that as a landlord/property manager, you can be open to pets, however, you can set specific criteria of what kind of pets you allow.

What kind of pets?

Many landlords/property managers find themselves in tough predicaments when it comes to deciding to make a rental “pet-friendly” or not. There is a lot to consider, but perhaps first and most importantly on your list is, what kind of pets are commonly allowed? In the case that a rental listing is pet-friendly, it is normal that landlords allow common domesticated animals such as dogs, cats, birds, fish, guinea pigs, rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, and small reptiles, according to Ron Leshnower of Nolo.com.

As a landlord/property manager, you will also come to find that others in your same position also make certain specifications for pet-friendly rentals, like weight limits and type of dog breed. Elements like this can help assist you in your decision of making your rental pet-friendly or not.

Pros:

Broader Market: With 68% of the US population owning at least one pet, one pro when considering making your rental pet-friendly is the appeal to a larger and broader market of customers. Because more people in the United States own at least one pet than none at all, there is a greater likelihood that someone with a pet is looking at your property and wanting to secure it.

If your listing is not pet-friendly, however, that will definitely turn away prospective tenants and possibly make renting your property more difficult. When advertising that your listing is pet-friendly, not only will you generate a greater response, but you’ll also find that you will most likely rent your property quicker!

Increased Rent Rates: In the case of many pet-friendly rentals, landlords/property managers commonly increase the rate of renting for multiple reasons, which will be discussed in the “con” section below. If you are a landlord/property manager and open to a pet-friendly rental policy, you can increase rent on a per-pet basis, meaning the number of pets on your property, as well as mandate specific deposits to secure any risky costs that may be left behind after a tenant leaves. Not only are you appealing to a larger pool of people, but you are also securing your own protections through these specific measures.

Longer Tenancy: For landlords/property managers, it is a dream to have long-lasting tenants (ones that you like at least). Renters who have longer tenancy means that for you, there is a secured means of income and you can avoid the arduous and difficult process of trying to filter through the next round of tenants that can follow.

JWBrealestatecapital.com affirms these benefits, stating, “Because their choices are limited, tenants with pets tend to stay put longer. As a property owner, you benefit by having low turnover, a steady income stream, no marketing costs, and reduced maintenance expenses.”

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Transparency: You know the age-old concept that if you’re very strict on a child, they’ll rebel stronger and worse than if you had granted them freedoms? The same concept can be applied to renting property and tenants. In some cases, despite your policy of not allowing pets, tenants can violate this policy and sneak pets in without your knowledge.

It’s not a guaranteed situation if you decide to not allow pets, however, it does happen. If you do allow pets, however, a tenant will have no reason to hide their animal from you, which can help not only your relationship, but also the overall function of your property and its services.

Tenant Satisfaction: We all know that dogs are man’s best friend, and the same goes for just about all animals (that can be domesticated, that is)! What does science say? According to Mandy Oaklander of Time Magazine, “People who have pets tend to have lower blood pressure, heart rate and heart-disease risk than those who don’t. Those health boons may come from the extra exercise that playing and walking require, and the stress relief of having a steady best friend on hand.”

The presence of a friendly, animal companion can increase an individual’s happiness and decrease their stress, which makes your life as a landlord/property manager much easier if you don’t have to deal with irrational, argumentative and aggressive tenants!

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Cons:

Damages: One negative to adopting a pet-friendly policy is the potential damage that can occur on your property.  Animals act like animals and don’t have the self-control that humans do. With that being said, as a landlord/property manager you should not expect, but anticipate possible damage being done to your property due to animal behavior.

This damage can come in many forms, such as a hole in a wall, torn up carpet, scratched up flooring, etc. Increased rent prices and security deposits can help to cover these expenses, however, they are nonetheless a nuisance to deal with. While most animals don’t act unreasonably, there are the select few that can tear a place apart in a matter of seconds.

Noise: This negative is mostly exclusive to dogs and dogs only because other domesticated animals, like the ones listed above, aren’t particularly noisy- unless a tenant has a very vocal cat or guinea pig.

Unfortunately, a noisy animal does not just affect you as a property manager, it affects everyone else in the same area/complex as well. If a tenant you are renting a property to has a noisy dog/animal, other renters close by can complain, which can make your job difficult. In this case, you have to compromise with both sides and hope the dog doesn’t get too loud again.

Odors: Pet waste, just like human waste, does not smell like roses or birthday cake. It’s not a pleasant smell and if you happen to deal with a tenant who is lazy and irresponsible about properly disposing of their animal’s waste, there will be all sorts of issues that come as a result of this, including foul odor.

Odors are tricky, because if left unattended and not taken care of immediately, they can permeate walls and flooring, causing extensive and costly damage which not only affects you, but it also affects your potential of securing renters in the future.

Insects: Animals, particularly dogs and cats, tend to attract all sorts of lovely insects and pests, which are never fun to deal with, I mean, no one ever looks forward to dealing with a pest problem in their home. Dogs and cats, in particular typically attract insects such as fleas, ticks, flies and sometimes even cockroaches, eww!

Most of these insects are not incredibly difficult to get rid of, but in some cases, like fleas and cockroaches, you need some time to full exterminate these critters. An influx of pests and insects due to an animal is annoying and will definitely bug you- ha, get it?!

Allergies: One important risk to consider when evaluating whether or not to make your property pet-friendly is allergies. Dogs and cats, specifically, shed loads of hair which many people (including myself) are allergic to.

Unfortunately sometimes, long after a tenant with a pet has left a property, the allergic particles can still be left inside the property. However, cleaning services like the one provided by the Allergies and Asthma Foundation of America (AAFA) can help to completely eradicate all particles from your property.

Accessibility: When allowing a tenant to have a pet on and in your property, you’re taking a risk. Because you own the property, you do have a right to be able to routinely check up every once in a while to see how your tenants are and how your property is being cared for. Sometimes not all animals are nice, sometimes they prove to be the complete opposite of nice in which case, poses a limit to the accessibility of your property.

Pricey: This varies from property manager to property manager, but in some cases, landlords/property managers have to pay higher premiums through their insurance company if they allow pets on their property.

Regarding insurance premiums, Elizabeth Millar of Appfolio.com notes that “some insurers allow most breeds of dogs, cats, fish, and birds with a minimal or even no additional charge.” Additionally, as a means to further cover any damages, sometimes property managers ask tenants to purchase renters insurance as a means to cover their own liability, Millar states.

With this being said, the inclusion of an animal on your property can be pricey for both you and potentially your tenant, so affordability and cost-effectiveness is something to consider when evaluating this decision.

Landlords/property managers have a tough job- on one end you have to constantly make efforts to cover yourself and your business while on the other end you have to try your best to please your tenants. While the job may not be easy at times, it definitely has its rewards. Though adopting a pet-friendly policy may not have been something you’d ever consider, it can in many cases, get you more business revenue and greater tenant satisfaction.

By going out of your way to create a better atmosphere for tenants by allowing pets, you will be able to facilitate a better relationship with your tenants (and perhaps their friends and family) and make your job a little easier. The negatives of adopting such a policy fall on the tenant and how they manage their animal. Most likely, a person who owns an animal will take care of it and will be responsible for it, however, it is important to be aware of specific negatives that animals can bring to your property and your overall business.

Adopting a pet-friendly policy will give you, as a landlord, more responsibility, as there are more things to manage on your property. If you are considering making your property pet-friendly, it is important to consider this new, added responsibility as well as the pros and cons of such a decision. As always, good luck!

By Alicia Geigel

Uloop Writer
Temple
Temple alum | columnist at Uloop News | photographer | food blogger if you want to learn more about me, visit my profile and check out my articles!

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