According to recent data, 68% of American households are home to at least one pet. It’s no wonder, then, that the question of whether to allow pets is one of the biggest weighing on the minds of landlords and property managers. If you are among them, here are a few things to consider that might help you make a more informed decision, along with some best practices should you decide to make your properties pet-friendly.
Attract a larger pool of candidates.
Given that a significant portion of the population owns pets, it stands to reason that by offering pet-friendly housing, you’ll be able to attract more prospective tenants. This will enable you to be more selective so you can fill your properties with high quality, long-term residents, which is always the goal.
Bring in additional revenue.
Many pet owners are more than willing to pay a premium to be able to move into a nice property with their four-legged family member. That means you can potentially increase your rates and subsequently boost your bottom line by allowing pets. Of course, allowing animals can also increase the risk of property damage, but you can account for that by charging an additional pet deposit prior to move-in.
Keep good tenants longer.
When someone finds a property they like that allows them to keep their pet by their side, they’re more inclined to stay longer, whether it’s because pet-friendly places are hard to come by or that they simply don’t want to disrupt their pet’s routine. Either way, lower turnover and higher retention means more consistent cash flow for you.
Land more responsible tenants.
If a person is responsible enough to care for an animal, chances are they’ll be responsible enough to keep your property in good shape, pay their rent in full and on time, and provide proper notice if and when they decide to move. This isn’t always the case, but if you’re careful about your screening process, you should be able to weed out the good from the bad.
Now that you’ve seen some of the positives of allowing pets, the next step is making sure you do so in a way that covers all bases and protects your hard-earned investment. Here are a few best practices to keep in mind.
First, double check with your insurance provider. Some policies specifically exclude animals (or ones of a certain size or breed) from their coverage. If you decide you’d like to proceed with allowing pets, you may need to switch insurers or adjust your coverage accordingly.
Next, do your homework. If you are going to allow pets, you should be diligent enough to screen them, just as you do with their owners. Start by asking applicants some questions, such as how long they’ve had their pet, how old the pet is and whether it is up to date on vaccinations and licenses. If everything seems kosher, ask to meet the pet. That way you can assess the animal’s size and demeanor.
Be clear about your pet policy. You want to cover all your bases and protect yourself and your investment, so don’t leave anything up for debate. Make sure your lease clearly defines what is and isn’t allowed, such as restrictions on certain breeds as well as pet owner responsibility (i.e. pets must be kept on a leash when outside the unit, etc.). Set expectations right away and be explicit.
Finally, consider using pet deposits to offset any potential damages. You should already be charging a security deposit for each unit, but some states allow property managers and landlords to charge an additional pet deposit. If this is allowable, it’s strongly recommended. (The average amount of a pet deposit can range from 40 to 80 percent of the monthly rent and can either be refundable or non-refundable.)
As a property manager, you’ve already got a lot on your plate. Adding pets into the mix can seem like an unnecessary hassle or risk. If you’re careful, however, allowing pets can actually be beneficial to your long-term profitability. At the very least, it’s something worth considering.