Should you allow pets in your rental property? - Landlord Best Practices

Here are some data points and things to consider when making the decision to allow or not to allow pets in your rental property.



This is a question many landlords have asked themselves, and it’s a tough one! On one hand, pets can cause serious wear on your property in a short amount of time. It’s very tempting to say “no pets allowed” and avoid the issue entirely. On the other hand, there are many reasons why allowing pets is advantageous as a landlord.


To be clear, the correct answer depends on the property and your situation as a landlord. Do you have hardwood floors made of fir or pine? These are softwoods and scratch very easily. Is the yard fully fenced? Do other tenants in the property have allergies or reservations about pets? As the decision-maker and landlord, you’ll need to make a decision that is best for your particular situation.


That said, this article will focus on the reasons why you should allow pets in your rental.


Let’s take a look at the numbers. According to the American Pet Products Association, 67% of US households have a pet. There are 88 million cats and 74 million dogs here in the US. If you do not allow pets (mainly dogs and cats), you’re cutting your prospective tenant pool way down. On top of that, only about 50% of rental properties allow pets. Simply put, if you allow pets you’ll have roughly twice as many prospective tenants and half the competition.


From a financial standpoint you can collect a pet deposit (refundable or non-refundable) and/or a higher monthly rent. A 5% increase in monthly rent collected (or “pet rent”) is common. If you end up with a well-behaved pet that doesn’t cause damage, you’ve generated some additional rental income.


It’s also a good idea to add some pet-specific language to the lease, such as:


  • Tenants must provide a pet reference from a previous landlord or you can require a pet interview (where you meet the pet and see how it behaves).

  • Tenants must carry pet insurance.

  • Pets must have ID tags on at all times.

  • Feces must be disposed of immediately.


Landlords can also utilize the PetScreening app. PetScreening helps verify animal assistance records and produces a Pet Profile Score based on vaccination records, behavior, breed, etc. The app is free for landlords.


If you are looking to pet-proof your rental property here are a few items that typically see the most wear and tear (with some recommendations on what products to use):


Floors


  • We recommend a durable floor like laminate, vinyl plank, or tiled floors - these will protect against scratching and urine/feces.

  • Certain hardwood floors will work (bamboo, hickory, and maple are very durable) as well as concrete and engineered hardwood.


Window Treatments


  • As many of you know, cats love windows and can wreak havoc on expensive blinds. Try to avoid treatments with cords as cats (and children) can get tangled up easily.

  • Vertical blinds tend to be more cat-friendly as they’re more difficult to scratch and you can replace individual slats.

  • Roller shades are also good options (small cords and they don’t collect much dust).


Paint


  • High-gloss, semi-gloss, and satin paints are always best to avoid water damage.


Again, it’s best to make this decision based on your preferences and situation as a landlord. That said, if it makes sense to allow pets the numbers will most definitely be in your favor.


Happy landlording!