Property Management Blog

Renting to Tenants with Pets: Pros and Cons

Thursday, December 2, 2021

More than likely you have received calls from prospective tenants asking if pets are allowed at the property. In fact, a recent survey, the National Pet Owners Survey found that 68% of US households have pets. A whopping 60% of those animals are dogs.

Working in property management for the last 35+ years, I can personally say that most of the residents I encounter have pets. Properties that don’t allow pets at the property will sit on the market twice as long as properties that allow pets.

So, the question becomes: Do you allow pets at your property? And how much do you charge?


pets pros and cons


Consider this

Ultimately, the landlord/homeowner decides whether pets are allowed at the rental property or not. The exception to the rule are pets considered to be service, companions, or emotional support animals. When deciding on allowing pets or not at your rental home consider the following:

  • 68% of households are pet owners
  • 70% of renters have pets
  • You can decide what types of pets are allowed in your rental property
  • You can limit the number of pets allowed
  • You can decide what breeds and size specifications for the pet.
  • Will you allow Outdoor Only or indoor/outdoor?
  • Deposits and monthly fees can be charged (as allowed by your jurisdiction)
  • You can demand renter’s insurance
  • Pet rent can also be charged per month


wheelchair


Vacancy Time

If you decide to not allow pets at your investment property you increase your vacancy time by at least double. Think about it, 70% of renters have pets, which means that you are only marketing to 30% of the rental market. This costs you time and money in loss of rents. The average rental time in the market is currently 14-30 days, if you don’t allow pets you are looking at 30-60 days or longer. Factor $100 a day in rent, insurance, and utilities, potentially you are losing $3000 more than the landlord that accepts pets. And at Management One where we have leased over 10,000 homes, we found that most pets do their damage in one part of the property normally under $1000.

Small Dogs, Big Dogs, Bad Breeds, Good Breeds

As the landlord, you have the right to say what breed of pet you allow at your home. Most insurance policies exclude “vicious” breeds so this is a great place to start when deciding what breeds of dogs you will allow at your property. You will find most property management companies follow these same guidelines. You can decide on what size dog is allowed at your rental property. It is common for landlords to list a weight limit on the pets allowed at the home. When making this decision consider the size of your home, if you have a small home or condo, a 100-pound dog may not be a good fit. If you have a large backyard then you might be able to accommodate that large dog.


dogs of all sizes


How many are too many?

The answer to this question depends on the size of the home and yard. If you have a smaller home, then one pet might be the limit. If you have a larger home or live on a large piece of land, then you might allow more pets. Usually, owners will allow a maximum of 2 pets per property, specifically cats and dogs. They don’t normally count fish or reptiles in this number. Typically, management companies cap it at 2 pets per property.

Outdoor Only or Indoor/Outdoor 

When we first started encouraging landlords to allow pets at properties we had a hard and fast policy of “no indoor pets” allowed. What we found was, while this was a great policy, 90% of residents brought the pets inside anyway. In turn, making the policy pointless. To overcome this challenge, we made a few policy changes and started charging a monthly pet rent and a slightly higher indoor fee for indoor pets. More on fees and deposits to come.

Deposits and Monthly Fees

Yes, pets can damage a property and can be considered nuisances to neighbors. But owners, property managers, and/or landlords can realistically charge more for a rental property if pets are allowed. 

The question becomes do you charge a deposit or a monthly fee or both. 

The difference between pet fees and pet deposits is deposits are refundable and fees are not. You will find that some will say the pet deposit is non-refundable.

Keep in mind that state laws vary so you will want to check with your local Fair Housing office for laws in your area. If you are in a state that does not allow for a landlord to charge this, then charging a pet deposit or fee is not an option. If your state does allow charging pet fees and deposits, then that would be your decision to make. The laws might limit how much you can charge but having a pet fee or deposit between $250 and $500 is typical.


wrecked door


Pet Deposits

If you charge a refundable pet deposit, when the resident moves out, you need to return that deposit to the resident if there is no damage caused by the pet. If the pet did cause damage, you need to send the resident an itemized list of repairs and the cost of repairs caused by pet damage. This can help solidify keeping any or all of that pet deposit.

Pet Rent

Pet rent is different though. You will find today that many property managers, landlords, and apartment communities charge a monthly pet rent. This usually ranges from $35-$100 per pet per month.

More often, property managers and landlords do charge the monthly pet rent which is added to the regular rent.  The amount of pet rent can be decided by the type and number of pets allowed. If you charge a pet rent, you could increase your monthly revenue.

But should you even charge a pet fee or deposit? Remember, you can use the security deposit to cover any pet damages if you don’t charge a pet fee or pet deposit.

The security deposit is usually more than a pet fee or deposit, but that might not be enough if there is major damage caused by a pet. That is why many property managers and landlords don’t charge a pet deposit but just combine it all together into one security deposit.

A good thing is that property managers and landlords have many options as far as pets and fees go. You can charge one or more of the following:

  • Regular Rent
  • Additional Monthly Pet Rent
  • Security Deposit
  • One-time Pet Fee
  • Pet Security Deposit

Now, you can’t make all of the residents happy all of the time, so there will be some residents who might want to complain about being charged a pet rent, pet deposit, or pet fees. But most residents who are pet owners, are just happy to find a place that allows them to keep their pet.

Again, if you do only charge a pet deposit, you might be shorting yourself if there are damages caused by a pet that exceeds the amount of the deposit. It’s just better to charge a total deposit for all damages, no matter what or who caused the damages. 

Insurance

One last thing to consider is having your renter obtain renter’s insurance. The premiums are very reasonable. Most range from $10 to $30 per month with a limit of $300,000. If there is extensive damage, then you can use the renter’s insurance policy to cover the damage. Be sure that the policy lists either yourself or the property management company as the additional insured. This ensures that you will be notified if there is a lapse of coverage. Just another added layer of protection.

Wrapping it up

Whether you choose to charge a pet fee, pet rent, pet deposit, or nothing extra, by allowing your residents to have pets, you will have more residents interested in your rental property and you will start the landlord-resident relationship off to a good start. 

If you are interested in learning more about Property Management services in Orange County, click below. 

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