To a great extent, we are a culture of pet-lovers, with 62% of American households owning at least one pet. So if your rental properties do not allow pets, consider how much of your potential customer base you are automatically turning away. Further to that, landlords and owners can typically get away with charging 20-30% more for units that allow pets. Both of these factors combined add up to a lot of lost opportunity for revenue, just by discriminating against hairy tenants with 4 legs.
The obvious concerns about accepting tenants with pets are; damage may be caused to your property, owners exercising their pets outside may not clean up after them, noisy and/or wandering animals may disturb other tenants and neighbours, and the worst case scenario, an aggressive animal may injure other pets or people.
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Protect your property
Following is a list of actions you should take to safeguard your property and surrounding community from the potential pitfalls of allowing pets:
Request references from previous landlords
Keep in mind that the current landlord may be eager to get rid of a problem tenant, so they might not reveal any issues. For that reason, be sure to check with previous landlords as well.
Require that pets be spayed or neutered
This can eliminate or curb many undesirable behaviours, such as marking territory, escaping an enclosed area by digging or displaying aggressive behaviour.
Require that pets be vaccinated
Both dogs and cats should be vaccinated against rabies and distemper.
Limit the number of pets in each unit
Contact your city or municipality to check the local by-laws for the number of pets and the types of pets allowed.
Arrange a face-to-face meeting, to see if the potential tenant is friendly and well-behaved — and ask them to bring their pet(s) along too! ;)
Obtain a refundable pet deposit
The pet deposit would be separate from a general security deposit and would be used to cover or offset any potential damage caused by pet(s).
Budget for extra cleaning post move-out
Even if your tenants with pets were responsible and did not cause any damage, you should have carpets and air ducts professionally cleaned, in the event that future tenants have allergies.
Other details that you may consider including in the lease:
- require cats to be kept strictly indoors
- restrict the amount of time that dogs can be left unattended in an enclosed outdoor area
- prohibit the tethering of dogs on the property
- require that dog feces be removed and disposed of daily in private yards and immediately in common or shared areas
Profit from pets
Once you have done your due diligence to protect your property, other tenants and neighbours, it’s time to consider how much you can profit from this bit of extra work. As we have established, people really love their pets. Think about how much money people spend on organic/gourmet pet food, humiliating little outfits and holiday costumes, and even trips to the spa! (The number for America is $50 billion per year by the way.) They will gladly pay extra to live in a comfortable home that welcomes all of their family members.
Some landlords and property managers participate in the practice of charging pet fees. But keep in mind that psychologically, people are more open to paying higher overall rent, rather than paying an additional pet fee. After all, you wouldn’t ask people to pay extra for their children!
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Pamper them silly
You may even consider going a step beyond just welcoming pets, and give them the full red carpet treatment! Partner with local small businesses to offer services and amenities that pamper furry tenants, such as dog walking, pet sitting, grooming and boarding, while collecting a commission for services rendered. Going the extra mile for Milo & Otis can also become a powerful marketing strategy, as pleased pet owners are likely to stay in your community longer and share the great experience with their pet-owner friends.
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