According to the 2015-2016 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, 65% of households in the United States own a pet. Whether or not you allow pets at your rental, the odds are that the subject is going to come up. As a landlord, there are a few things you should consider when coming up with a pet policy.
No Pet Policies
There are many reasons that a landlord may institute a “No Pets” policy. Pets can cause additional wear and tear on a property, or even damage. Pet dander is also difficult to manage, which is a huge concern for those with allergies. If pets are not covered by the landlord’s insurance, then the landlord could find themselves with legal and financial headaches if a pet becomes an issue.
If you opt for pet restriction or a ban on them altogether, make sure this is clearly stated in the lease. When you go over the lease agreement with your tenant, point out the policy and emphasize its importance. A tenant is less likely to violate the lease if they know that a violation of the policy is a violation of the lease and could result in an eviction.
Interviews, Applications, & Leases
If you do allow pets, you can ask your prospective tenants to bring Fido along when they come to look at your rental. You’ll see how the tenants interact with their pet and how the pet interacts with your property. Be sure that your rental application includes a place for applicants to enter pet details.
Be specific in your lease about your expectations. For instance, you can require that pets are up-to-date on all vaccinations. The Humane Society has a pet policy for apartments that will give you some ideas for what to include in your lease.
Charging Pet Deposits & Rent
Many landlords decide to allow pets for an additional fee. A pet deposit, like a security deposit, could be added as an additional move-in cost. Alternatively, a monthly pet rent could be implemented.
These fees can be used to cover the costs of cleaning or repairs that are incurred by the pet. However, these fees should still be reasonable. Many pet owners expect to pay a fee of some variety, but they’ll look elsewhere if your pet fees aren’t competitive.
Service Animals Are Not Pets
A service animal is not considered a pet, so your pet policy must be amended or accommodated for persons with a disability making a request for a reasonable accommodation to use and enjoy the premises. For instance, a housing provider is not allowed to charge an additional fee to someone requesting a reasonable accommodation. Here is more information on reasonable accommodations and service animals as it relates to the Fair Housing Act.
Deciding on a pet policy is an important part of drawing up a lease. Knowing what expectations you have for your property in regards to pets will be beneficial to both you and your tenants.