More Tips on Renting to Tenants with Pets

Posted by Teresa on June 15, 2010 under Landlord Tips | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

Tenant Screening BlogIn this challenging market, many landlords are allowing pets in their rental units to gain a competitive advantage and fill vacancies. We’ve talked about various aspects of renting to pet-owning tenants before, but here are some additional considerations for landlords:

1. Fleas happen. In some areas, fleas are a huge problem; if animals go outside, as most do, they will bring some inside. Landlords can require that pet-owning tenants keep their pets on flea prevention. Landlords can also make tenants responsible for any treatment needed to rid a unit of fleas.

2. Check temperament: as a landlord, you have the right and responsibility to judge a tenant’s dog for acceptable behavior. No matter what the breed, if any dog that’s a candidate to live in your rental property acts aggressively, you may reject the applicant. (Same goes if the potential tenant acts aggressively!)

3. Limiting number of animals. Believe it or not, some people think if one pit bull or Siamese cat is a good thing, then 5 are even better. We’ve heard stories from landlords who’ve had tenants with multiple dogs apply to live in 1 BR apartments; or tenant applicants who are approved for one cat, sign the lease, pay the pet deposit and show up with 4 cats—and say, “what are we supposed to do with the rest?” As landlord, you get to decide if more than one animal is allowed. And of course, the lease should clearly state the arrangement.

4. Should you require tenants to keep dogs outside? On the surface, this might seem like the ideal fix. As long as the dogs are outside, they can’t tear up the carpet or wood floors, chew the wood work, have indoor accidents, or bring dirt, hair, and fleas inside. Unfortunately, it’s just a bad idea. Most dogs don’t do well outside by themselves (or in pairs, or in groups). They get bored and lonely. They want to be with their owners. They need something to do. So they dig holes, get into garbage, jump or tear down fences, and run away. And it’s just cruel to chain a dog up in an attempt to prevent all of that behavior. If you’re going to allow pets in rental units, you should not allow your tenants to leave them outside. Responsible pet owners wouldn’t dream of it, anyway. And don’t you want to rent to responsible pet owners?

5. Do require pet-owning tenants to keep their dogs under control at all times. And, that doesn’t mean voice control! It’s a good idea to require dogs to be on leashes whenever they leave the rental unit. Keeping your other tenants and neighborhood residents safe is an important part of your pet policies.