Because 75% of tenants in the Seattle real estate market have a pet, Niche Realty Associates, www.nicherealtyassoc.com, encourages property owners to allow pets. Of course, always have a Pet Addendum that clearly spells out pet expectations, pet rent, and reparations for damage.
Let’s talk about the pros and five cons of renting to tenants with pets…..
Pros of Pet-Friendly Property Management
Since we constantly hear about all of the problems animals cause for landlords, you may not be as familiar with the benefits of allowing your tenants to have pets.
Here are six good reasons to allow pets on your property:
Larger Prospective Tenant Pool: Firepaw.org states that almost 50% of renters own a pet (this percentage is 75% in the Seattle rental market). Therefore, if you make your property pet-friendly tenant as you will have a larger group to choose from.
Pet Owners Make More Money: According to Practical Apartment Management, by Edward N Kelly, 65% of pet owners earn over $50,000 a year. You should run a credit check to help determine if this money will go toward paying the rent.
Longer Tenancy: Pet owners typically stay in a rental longer because it can be harder for them to find other pet-friendly options.
Responsible Pet Owners Are Responsible Tenants: If someone is mature enough to take good care of an animal, there is a good chance they will treat your property with the same respect.
Charge Higher Rent: Look around your area. If there are not a lot of pet-friendly properties, tenants will have fewer options, and you may be able to charge slightly higher rents if you allow pets due to the increased demand.
Happier Tenants: Animals can help reduce stress. Having a pet around can make your property feel more like a home for the tenant.
Cons of a Pet-Friendly Property Management
You are probably more familiar with reasons not to allow your tenants to have pets.
Four of the most common problems pets cause are:
Damage to Your Property: Animals can scratch the floors, chew up carpets and have accidents on the carpets or wood floors.
Disturbing Neighbors: Dogs barking, birds squawking, and four-legged animals running around the apartment can disturb other tenants in the property, as well as outside neighbors.
Liability: There is a risk of the animal biting other tenants or neighbors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that dogs bite 4.7 million people a year, with 800,000 of those needing medical attention.
Pet Odors: Accidents inside the unit or in the building common areas will cause odor.
Follow the Fair Housing Laws
Yes, there is a Fair Housing Law regarding pets. Even if you have a no pet policy, you cannot violate the housing rights for the disabled who require an animal for their well-being. You can ask for a note from their physician verifying their need for an assistance animal.
The definition of “disabled” is broadening every day. Service dogs for the blind or paralyzed used to be the norm. This law has now expanded to allow animals for groups such as the clinically depressed and those with post-traumatic stress because the animals can provide emotional support.
Check Your Insurance Coverage and Liability for Animals
Consequently, You will want to check your insurance policy to find out what type of coverage you have if you decide to have a pet-friendly property. Make sure you know the amount of liability coverage your policy includes. Ask your insurance company if there are any limitations or exclusions to this coverage, such as if they have a list of dog breeds they consider to be “dangerous breeds,” which will not be covered under the policy.
Include Your Pet Policy in Your Lease
You should include a pet addendum in your lease and require every tenant to sign it. This policy should clearly state your pet policy (whether or not you allow animals) and your expectations of the pet owner. Make it clear that by signing the lease, the tenant agrees to these terms and if they violate these terms, it will be considered a breach of contract.
The decision to make your property pet-friendly is not one that should be taken lightly. It is important to weigh the pros and cons of allowing pets so you can decide what is right for you and your property. Remember to adhere to the Fair Housing Laws and to adopt the same policies for all tenants so you will not be accused of discrimination.