Do You Rent to Pet Owners?

This is a guest post from our friends at Rocket Lease. They provide online rental applications and credit checks for landlords.

Do you rent to pet owners?

This is a question that I’ve seen come up a lot lately, both in the circle of landlords that I know personally and online. I myself rent to tenants with pets and think that it has a number of excellent benefits.

The benefits of renting to pet owners, as I have experienced them, are as follows:

More Applicants – Since I have started allowing pets in my rental units, I have received at least ten to twenty-five more responses per rental listing that I put out. Simply put, more tenants than ever before have pets, but few landlords are willing to rent to them.

More Quality Tenants – When you don’t allow pets in your rental units, you are actually limiting the number of quality tenants that you can choose from. You see, both pet owners and non-pet owners can be great tenants. When you allow pets in your units, you’ll open up the doors to a whole new realm of great renters.

Lower Turn-Around – I have experienced a much lower turn-around rate since I began renting to pet owners. My tenants that own pets tend to stick around longer – a lot longer – than tenants without pets. Part of the reason for this is that there just aren’t that many other apartments in town that are pet friendly. Another reason is that pets tend to grow comfortable with a particular living area and have a hard time (much harder than humans) adjusting to new digs.

But a lot of landlords still feel that the negatives of allowing pets in their properties outweigh the positives. They claim that pets are messy, noisy, and potentially dangerous. Many landlords feel that pets will cost more money (in damages and cleaning fees) in the long-run.

I don’t think so. If you follow the tips below, these negatives will be evened out in just about every circumstance.

Tenant Screening – Screening each and every one of your tenants (whether they own a pet or not) is a great way of weeding out the bad ones from the good ones. The tenant screening process can help you find a responsible and reliable tenant that will take good care of your rental property.

Pet Screening – If a tenant with a pet passed your tenant screening process, it’s time to screen their pet. The best way to do this is with a letter of reference from one of their previous landlords. Another surefire way is to meet the pet in person, take note of its breed and size, and get a feel for its personality and the way that the owner handles it. There are no laws regarding pet discrimination so if something doesn’t feel right you can always say no. In fact, many landlords that do allow pets also have a list of specific breeds that they will not allow (pit bulls, for example) or a specific size limit (say, 50 pounds).

Require a Deposit – The best way to cover your backside when renting to a pet owner is by requiring an additional pet deposit. I generally make this non-refundable and I tend to make it the amount of a single month’s rent. Yeah, it’s a lot but most responsible pet owners will have no problem paying it. You can use this to cover any damages that a pet might cause to your unit and for deep cleaning the unit when the tenant eventually moves out.

So what do you think? After hearing about my experiences and taking in my tips, is there any chance that you might rent to a pet owner in the future? Or if you are already pet friendly, do you have any other advice to add?

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