Tenants who want to bring along their pets to your property can be a challenging situation. While some property owners allow it, others are quite reluctant — and for good reasons. Should you be relaxed about it, or should you restrict it? Let’s look at the pros and cons of pets on your property and how to meet prospective tenants with pets in the middle ground.
“No Pets” Policy
For most people, pets are part of the family. They are typically allowed to roam freely in and out of the house. But in the case of rental properties, tenants with pets can sometimes be an issue. This is due to the potential damages that pets may bring upon the property and the neighborhood.
Refusing tenants with pets as their companion or service animal is prohibited under the Fair Housing Act. This federal law states that landlords must allow reasonable accommodation of renters with pets as companion animals.
The said act specifies two thresholds that must be satisfied to allow pets on your property:
- The tenant has a physical or mental disability that limits one or more of such tenant’s major life activities;
- The tenant has a disability-related need, be it physical assistance or emotional support, which the pet can provide.
The law instructs the modification of the “no pets” policy if these two conditions are met. The tenant may be allowed to rent and bring their pet to your property. Tenants must provide reliable documentation from a physician, psychiatrist, social worker, or other health professional establishing their disability and the disability-related need for the service animal.
However, the landlord or property manager may deny the tenant’s request to have pets on the property if one of these conditions is not met.
Pets May Still Not Be Allowed If…
There are cases when the tenant has been proven handicapped and needs the pet for the tenant’s welfare. Yet, there are also a couple of exceptions to this:
- The specific companion or service animal puts the safety or health of others at risk;
- The same animal poses significant property damage to others.
If any of these two provisions cannot be diminished by another reasonable accommodation, the “no pets” policy can still take effect. There should be a careful and objective assessment to determine the said exceptions. Speculations or conclusions based on the appearance of the animal in question are generally not accepted.
Pros of Welcoming Pets
It is easy to see how most tenants favor a pet-friendly property. Pets certainly add a homely feel to the property and the community in general. These are the advantages of allowing pets on your property:
· You Open the Door for More Tenants
According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), there are 95.6 million cat owners and 83.3 million dog owners in the United States. That’s more than a hundred million households with pets! And when any of these hundred million households happen to look for a rental property, they would undoubtedly go for pet-friendly ones.
· You Earn Extra Money
Pet fees, increased rent, and higher deposit — all these translate to added income to your property investment. Placing a small add-on charge on the rent and deposit covers possible wear and tear damages attributed to the pets. Take note that the deposit is refundable.
You might want to check first if charging additional fees in rental properties for tenants with pets is legal in your state. In Florida, for example, there are no pet deposit statutes in place.
· Happier Tenants
Most people can attest to how having a pet around can reduce stress. Allowing pets in your property creates a cozy, cheerful atmosphere for the tenants. This creates a positive feeling and makes the tenant feel happy and welcome in your property.
· Longer Tenancy
And because tenants are happy, they tend to stick around longer in your property. They may find it harder to look for another pet-friendly place to rent. Rental properties that are accommodating to pets get hired out quickly.
· Creates a Positive Image
Tenants appreciate it when they get permitted to stay with their pets in a rental property. If you grant them this permission, it creates a positive reputation, and tenants will respect you more for it.
Sorry, No Pets Allowed: The Cons
With all the good things that come with letting pets in your property, some landlords are quite reluctant. There are valid reasons for refusing pets, and here are the most familiar ones:
· Damage to the Property
Scratched surfaces, chewed-on items, and other damages can happen on your property, especially with poorly-behaved pets. Though you can always claim this back through the deposit, replacing and repairing the damages can still be taxing.
· Odor, Hair, and Allergy Troubles
No matter how well-cared for, pets can still smell, shed hair on carpets and upholstery, and leave waste anywhere. These can be difficult to get rid of entirely and can create a sullied feel in the property. There is also a possibility of the next tenant being allergic to pets. All these can lead to a problematic situation in the long run.
· Laborious Cleaning
Once vacated, cleaning the property that tenants once occupied with their pets is usually a lot of work. Removing traces of an animal occupant in the property can be time-consuming and even costly.
· Pets Can Disturb Neighbors
Barking, running around, and any other animal activities may disturb other people within proximity to the property.
· Landlord Liability Issues
Pets are animals, and it’s natural for animals to become aggressive, and some can hurt other tenants. It becomes a problem when landlords are held liable for animal bites and other injuries.
· Losing Other Tenants
Other tenants may leave if they feel unsafe with animals in the property. They may have an allergy or get disturbed enough to go and search for another place.
Pets on Your Property: Reaching a Middle Ground
Of course, a compromise is always a possible and favorable move for dealing with tenants with pets. The best thing to do is place a firm set of rules that will benefit you as the landlord and the tenant.
You may encounter tenants without pets yet but express the wish to get pets in the future. Others may not be vocal about it, but no one knows when they might sneak in pets one day. A clear pet policy in the lease contract ensures that both parties have a clear expectation regarding having pets on the property.
As the landlord, you can outline what pets you allow and the animal behavior you consider acceptable in your property. You may impose additional fees for pets on your property if it’s legal in your state.
Unsure Where to Start with This? We Can Help You.
Residential property management has its nuances that experienced property managers like MILA Realty have gotten used to handling over time. At MILA Realty, we can help you manage your property in Orlando, FL, so that you can have peace of mind.
Let our qualified team take care of the nitty-gritty details of property management. Let us discuss how we can help you. Give us a call at 1-407-569-8899 or email us at [email protected] today.