As a landlord, one of the most important things to have in place if you plan on allowing pets is a pet policy.
The right pet policy can help you get the right tenants who want to live with their pets instead of those who might be less reliable with a pet living under the same roof as them. Here’s what you need to know about landlord pet policies and how they can impact your tenancy agreement before signing on any new tenants.
What is a Pet Policy?
A landlord pet policy is a set of rules that you create to help you determine if you will allow pets in your rental property. These rules can then be included in your rental agreement, letting you know upfront if a prospective tenant has a pet. A good pet policy can help you filter out potential tenants who don’t have pets, letting you focus on those who have a more serious commitment to their animals and helping you avoid potential issues later.
A landlord pet policy can be as simple as “no pets allowed” or it can be as detailed as specifying how many pets you will allow, what types of animals are allowed, and what kind of care and upkeep the pets will require. A landlord pet policy can also be a list of questions you ask potential tenants to help you determine if they have a pet.
This can be especially helpful if you don’t want to outright ask if they have a pet, perhaps because you’re worried about discrimination, or you have a quiet building where barking dogs might be disruptive.
Instead, you can ask questions designed to rule out potential tenants who have pets and encourage those who don’t to apply to live in your rental property. A landlord pet policy can be designed to work for you on both levels, letting you create rules that help you find the right tenants while also helping you avoid unnecessary hassles with tenants who have pets.
Why Are Landlord Pet Policies Important?
Landlord pet policies are important because they can help you filter out prospective tenants who don’t have pets and determine whether your rental property is pet friendly. While many landlords who rent to tenants with pets will simply require a security deposit for the damage their pets might cause, a pet policy can help you decide how many pets you want to allow and what kinds of animals.
It can also help you avoid discrimination suits since you can simply ask questions about pets without outright saying that you don’t want tenants who own pets. A pet policy can also help you avoid having to evict a tenant who has pets. If you have a strict no-pets policy but a tenant breaks the rules, you may have to evict the tenant even if they are otherwise a good fit for your rental property. If you can be more flexible with a pet policy, you may be able to avoid this situation.
A landlord pet policy can also let you charge less for your rental units since you can describe your rental property as a more attractive place to live with an allowance for pets. If you don’t charge less, you may have to deal with complaints about pets, which can be time-consuming to address without a pet policy in place.
What to Include in Your Landlord Pet Policy
There are a few things you should include in your landlord’s pet policy to keep it fair and help you manage your rental property. First, you should specify what kinds of animals are allowed as tenants. This can help you avoid an expensive and messy eviction if a tenant breaks the rules and has a pet that isn’t allowed.
You may want to consider restricting certain types of animals and setting limits on the number of pets allowed per household. You might also want to include a provision about responsible pet ownership. This can help you avoid problems with tenants who aren’t prepared to take care of their pets properly. You may also want to include a rule about keeping pets confined, particularly if you have a quiet building.
This can help you avoid problems with barking dogs and other disruptions that can disrupt your other tenants. You may also want to include a rule about keeping pets out of common areas, such as putting a rule in the lease that pets are not allowed in the laundry room or on the front porch.
Questions to Ask Prospective Tenants Before Including a Pet Clause
There are a few questions you should ask prospective tenants if you want to craft a landlord pet policy before deciding on a pet clause in your rental agreement. First, you may want to ask if the tenant has any pets.
You may also want to ask how many pets the tenant has, what type of animals they are, and how the tenant cares for them. You may want to ask if the pets are declawed or if the tenant has a dog that is trained not to bark. Finally, you may want to ask if the tenant has ever had any issues with animals in the past, such as complaints from neighbors about noise or damage.
These questions can help you select tenants who are more likely to follow the rules of your pet policy and less likely to have problems with their pets. They can also help you avoid potential discrimination suits since you can simply ask questions about pets instead of outright saying that you don’t want tenants who own pets.
When You Should Require a Security Deposit for Pets
You can usually require a security deposit from tenants who have pets, but there are some rules you should follow if you want to avoid legal trouble. You should make sure that you clearly state the rules about pet ownership in your rental agreement, including any rules about the number of pets allowed and where the pets are allowed to be.
You should also make sure that you are consistent about collecting the deposit from all tenants who have pets. You should also make sure that you have a pet addendum when accepting the security deposit from pet-owning tenants. This should clarify the amount of the deposit and the damage that the tenant is covering, as well as the deductions that will be applied if there is damage to the rental property.
When You Should Not Accept Pets as Tenants
There are some situations where you should not accept pets as tenants. If you have had problems with pets in your rental properties in the past, you should make sure that you only accept tenants without pets.
This is especially important if you have had vermin or noise issues with previous pets. You should also not accept pet-owning tenants if your building is not pet-friendly. You may also want to consider avoiding pet-owning tenants if you live in a very quiet building since even the most well-behaved pets can disrupt your neighbors. It is also a good idea to reject pet-owning tenants if you don’t want to deal with cleaning up after their animals.
A landlord pet policy can help you choose the right tenants, whether you want to be stricter about pet ownership or more lenient. It can also help you charge less for your rental units while attracting more tenants while helping you avoid the costs and problems inherent in evicting tenants who break the rules.
When designing your pet policy, make sure that you clearly state any rules about the number, type, and care of pets as well as where they are allowed. You can also ask questions designed to help you weed out pet-owning tenants while generating more interest in your rental property.
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