Dog lovers and cat lady’s (or cat… gentlemen?) are becoming a more common occurrence in the rental market. This is a huge market to turn away from as a landlord of property manager, and there are many advantages to renting to pet owners that you can’t get from tenants who don’t own pets. As a property owner, it must be hard not to picture pets scratching up floors and leaving their “mark” in every room, but – the tenants imagine that too! So give this article a once-over and perhaps, if you’re not renting to tenants with pets, perhaps this will make you change your tune!
What are some of the benefits of renting to pet owners?
Renting to people with pets can increase your number of potential tenants. It can also improve your occupancy rates because many responsible pet owners make good long-term tenants. Instead of ruling out all pet owners as tenants, set fair, clear-cut rules for pet owners. Only accept those you feel are suitable for your rental property. By accepting tenants with pets, you can:
- Increase demand for your property Since not all rental properties on the market accept tenants with pets, yours will be in high demand.
- Attract more long-term tenants It is hard to find rental properties that allow pets, so tenants with pets are likely to stay longer than tenants with no pets. This could reduce turnover in your building(s).
- Attract responsible tenants
Responsible pet owners often make the most responsible tenants. Because few rental properties allow pets, these tenants are less likely to do anything to put their tenancy at risk. If you decide to allow pets in your buildings:
- Know the different types of pets that people own. Every animal has different physical and emotional needs.
- Decide what types of pets you will allow and make this clear to all tenants.
- Have clear rules about where pets will be allowed in the complex. This may help other tenants who may be concerned about pets in tenancies.
- Remember that the tenants/pet owners are responsible for caring for their pets and making sure their needs are met.
Once you’ve decided to accept tenants with pets, follow these tips to help things run smoothly.
- Consider all the possible pets people can have and decide which ones you will allow in your building (ex: cats only, dogs under a certain height).
- Visit a pet store to see what pets are available.
- Speak to potential tenants about their pets before you decide whether to accept them. Every pet is different so you should make your decision on a case-by-case basis.
- Use a pet checklist to get information about your tenants’ pet.
- If the pet is a dog or cat, you may want to see them first.
- Ask potential tenants to give you written letters from previous landlords or their veterinarians, about their pet, if possible. This will help you find out if the person is a responsible pet owner and if the pet is well behaved.
- Include a pet policy clause in your standard tenancy agreement that deals with the keeping of pets.
- Ask potential tenants to provide proof that their pets are licensed or have permits, if applicable.
- Ask for a pet damage deposit if you are concerned about pets damaging the rental unit or building.
- Consider limiting the number of pets allowed in each unit. Contact your city or municipality to see what the local by-laws say.
Deciding to accept pets doesn’t mean that you must accept every pet. You will want to consider each tenant and their pet before entering into a tenancy agreement with them. Before you accept a pet owner as a tenant, find out more about the person and the pet. Below is a checklist of the kinds of questions you could ask a potential tenant:
For all pet owners:
- What types of pets do you own and how many?
- How long have you had your pets?
- Can you provide a reference for your pet from a previous landlord or your veterinarian?
- Are your pets regularly vaccinated and treated for fleas and worms (if applicable)?
- Do you have someone to care for your pet in case of an emergency?
- Do you have someone to care for your pet while you are away or on holiday?
- Is your pet spayed or neutered?
For cat owners:
- Is your cat trained to use a litter box?
For dog owners:
- How often do you walk/exercise your dog?
- How often will your dog be left at home alone and for how long?
- Do you have a dog sitter or dog walker for when you are not at home?
- Is your dog housebroken?
- How does your dog get along with strangers?
- Is your dog licensed?
- Has your dog attended obedience-training classes?
Once you have an established system in place and are regularly going through these steps when you’re taking new tenants, it makes the pet situation a lot more manageable, and it keeps the tenants in check. This way, you’ll be giving happy homes to more than just humans, and that’s something everybody can feel good about!