The Pet Dilemma: Developing a Pet Policy

November 19th, 2013

Property Management

As much as you hate to allow pets in your rental units, you know you’ll attract more (and possibly better) tenants if you let them bring their pets. But there is a compromise that will keep your property in decent repair and make your tenants happy.

Prevent pet disasters by creating a pet policy. That way you can limit the pets that are sure to cause a disaster and welcome the more low key type without looking like Ebenezer Scrooge.

Strategy #1 The Blacklist

There are two approaches: You can simply list the animals you do not want on your rental property. Or you can blacklist categories of pets.

If you opt to make a list, you are bound to overlook something. However, if you go the category route and state that larger, aggressive dogs are not allowed on the property, it leaves the door open for some dog owners to think their Doberman Pinscher could never be aggressive.

In this case, many landlords broaden the category and simultaneously make it irrefutable by setting size and weight limits and they virtually eliminate those large, aggressive dogs.

It is also common to blacklist the exotic animals. If you feel the need to list a few you have a particular aversion to (pythons, alligators, or poison frogs) go ahead. Just be sure to add a clause that indicates these as examples and the list goes beyond what is actually stated.

Strategy #2 Pets on Approval

Some landlords prefer to handle pets on a case-by-case basis. Tenants fill out an application if they wish to bring a pet on the premises then you can have control over who has pets and which pets are allowed.

Determine if you want to have a whole separate pet contract from your regular contract to protect yourself and your tenants from damage and legal difficulty. You might even consider asking for a pet deposit to help offset the cost of future repairs.

Strategy #3 The Combo

You are the one who has to deal with repairs and maintenance due to the wear-and-tear of pets so do what works for you and take the combination approach.

Maybe you feel more comfortable listing basic pets that are allowed (fish, cats, small reptiles) and considering dogs on a case-by-case basis.

This way you don’t have to bother with all pets, just the ones that pose the most risk.

Pet Policy Basics

No matter how you’ve decided to handle pets, there are a few things you need to remember as you put your policy together.

•Have every tenant sign the pet policy even if they don’t have a pet. If they get a pet in the future, you’ll be covered.

•Service animals like seeing-eye dogs are exempt from pet policies under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

•Double check your insurance policy to ensure you have sufficient coverage for a pet-friendly property.

•Check with local government for ordinances that may inform your pet policy.

Protect yourself and your property with a well thought out pet policy. You’ll feel confident and your tenants can enjoy their pets in peace.