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Pets Or No Pets?

When talking with homeowners preparing a property for rental, I commonly encounter the question of whether to allow pets or not.  Most homeowners recognize the potential for problems that come with pets.  Animals are hard on a property, pure and simple.  Why would a landlord permit a renter to have a pet or pets in a home that is meant to be an investment, a home that the homeowner wants to preserve in good condition? 

While it may seem like a no-brainer, anyone in the business can tell you that there is a major upside to allowing pets.  Around 70% of potential renters actually own a pet.  By not allowing or accepting pets, the pool of potential tenants will shrink by 70%.  That is a big drop.  Consequently, renting out a property that does not allow pets, on average, will take longer and go for less than if pets were OK. 

The tradeoff, of course, is the expense of cleaning up a property after a messy pet or pet owner.  Soiled carpets, hair, scratched floors, odors, wall damage, chewed doors, pitted lawns, and pet waste are but a few examples of the many problems that can come with animals in the home or on the premises.  Is it worth it?

One way to help mitigate the potential cost of cleaning up after an animal is to charge a hefty pet fee or pet rent.  A pet fee is a one-time fee that is paid by the tenant when entering into a lease.  Pet rent is a recurring expense that is added to the monthly rent.  Either option is a good way to hedge against a messy pet and at least help in compensating for problems.  It’s also important to remember that the tenant is responsible for any damage that may be caused by his or her animal.  A property manager or homeowner can and should bill the tenant for such damages. 

While these measures help in paying for potential pet damage and wear and tear, the choice remains:  Pets or no pets?  The answer is:  It depends.  If you’re still on the fence, another route to take is to list on the application or vacancy advertisement that pets are conditional upon approval.  That way you can take a good, hard look at the potential tenant and their animal(s) and decide, based on your pre-established criteria, if they are the right fit for you and your property. 

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