A while back we discussed some of the pros and cons of allowing pets in your rental properties. This is a very hot topic these days, with many people treating their animal companions like part of the family. By opening your properties to people who own pets, you gain access to a significantly larger pool of prospects, many of whom make excellent long-term tenants. You just have to be careful about doing so in a way that still protects your investment and won’t come back to bite you (no pun intended) in the long run. That said, here are a few tips for successfully marketing your property as pet-friendly.
Take it on a Case by Case Basis
It’s always wise to consider prospective tenants who own pets on a case by case basis, because each person and animal is different. Just as you would check someone’s background and credit, be sure to ask for and check references from previous landlords, specifically asking about the pet situation. You should also consider the type of pet and whether it would be a good fit with the property you’re offering.
Set Clear and Specific Rules
Make it clear up-front what is required in order to own a pet on your property. For instance, requiring that all dogs and cats be spayed or neutered can help reduce the risk of damage to your home, since these animals tend to be calmer and exhibit fewer unwanted behaviors. You should also require that all animals be kept up to date with all necessary vaccinations and ask for proof. If a pet owner has failed to do so, it’s a good indication that they may not be as responsible as you’d like and might not be a good prospect to rent to.
Get a Deposit
In addition to the normal security deposit, you should require that anyone keeping a pet pay an additional pet deposit to cover potential damages caused by their animal during the course of their tenancy. You can base the amount of this deposit on a number of factors, such as the type of animal, its age, its breed and the references you’ve received from previous landlords.
Include it in the Lease
The more inclusive your lease, the better – especially when it comes to allowing pets. Make it abundantly clear what the rules are for keeping a pet on your property. For example:
- Specify what areas are available for pets to use, and which ones are off limits
- Indicate what times of the day a dog is allowed outside (i.e. between the hours of 9am and 9pm)
- Specify that litter boxes must be kept clean and be changed at least once per week
- Specify that dog feces be immediately removed from the property and properly disposed of
Implement a Check-In Policy
If you’re concerned about whether the tenant will follow the rules, set up a plan for you to check in occasionally to make sure everything is up to par. This can begin on a more frequent basis, where you arrange to stop by the property once every few months or so and then gradually taper off once you begin to feel more comfortable with the tenant. Just be sure to make it clear to the tenant what’s expected, and provide adequate notice prior to visiting.
Many pet owners are among the most responsible and conscientious people around, making them excellent candidates to rent to. You just have to make sure that if you’re going to make your property pet-friendly, you do your due diligence to weed out the undesirables and find someone that will care for your property as if it were their very own. These tips should help you do just that, and provide you access to a greater pool of prospective long-term tenants as a result.
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