How to Better Protect Your Pet-Friendly Rental Properties

Rental Has No-Pet Policy;  What Are My Rights Regarding Therapy Or Service Dogs?

Here are 5 ways you can better protect your pet-friendly rental properties.

By Holly Welles

Before you included a pet policy in your lease, you weighed the pros and cons. On the one hand, you would increase interest in your rental properties and improve their profitability. A pet policy would have clear benefits for your bottom line.

On the other hand, you would have to spend a significant sum of money on maintenance. Cats and dogs aren’t exactly kind to hardwood flooring, and the condition of your rentals could suffer. The repair costs would add up quickly over time.

Regardless, you moved forward with a pet policy. Your tenants are now living with their furry friends, and you’ve had to address a diverse variety of new challenges. If the rental’s interior wasn’t enough, you also have to worry about the lawn.

So how do you begin to address these issues in your pet-friendly rental properties? How do you manage your new commitment? Though it may seem overwhelming at the moment, there are strategies to protect your rental properties, and any of the five suggestions below will help.

1. Take Precautionary Measures

Even a minor adjustment to the interior of a rental is enough to prevent damage. When you replace a set of longer curtains with thick blinds, you stop curious kittens from testing their claws. Here is a long list of precautionary measures to reduce risk.

To provide another example, you can encourage your tenants to place a waterproof mat beneath their pet’s food and water dishes. It’s a relatively simple addition that will guard against moisture and preserve the condition of your properties.

2. Install Scratch-Resistant Flooring

You may feel like your flooring’s at risk in your pet-friendly rental properties, which is perfectly rational. An overexcited dog can cause an enormous amount of destruction if they hear a doorbell. However, you have a variety of methods to mitigate the damage.

How to Better Protect Your Pet-Friendly Rental Properties
Scratch-resistant flooring and materials might be something to consider.

If you’re interested in a long-term solution, scratch-resistant flooring is effective. You have many things to consider of course, like traction, comfort, resistance and appearance, but it’s a reasonable option. Laminate boards have particular appeal for their durability and broad spectrum of styles.

3. Organize a Screening Process

No two dogs are exactly alike. They may share similar qualities if they’re the same breed, but their personalities can dramatically differ. One of them may have an enormous amount of energy, while another may prefer to sleep most of the day.

Naturally, you want to ensure your tenants’ pets won’t cause any problems. You can’t afford to generalize just because the bulldogs you’ve met in the past were docile and friendly. Instead, you can implement a screening process with these questions.

  • What is the pet’s size?
  • What is the pet’s breed?
  • How old is the pet?
  • Is the pet trained? Is it house- or litter-box trained?
  • Does the pet have its vaccinations?
  • Does the pet have any history of aggression?

You’ll gradually gain a better understanding of the tenant’s pet, allowing you to make an informed decision.

How to Better Protect Your Pet-Friendly Rental Properties
No two dogs are alike, so consider a pet-screening process.

4. Look into Renters’ Liability Insurance

Your tenant’s pet is a potential liability. A dog could bite another tenant without warning, and you have to prepare for the possibility. To reduce risk, you should require your tenants to carry renters’ liability insurance, assuming your local and state laws allow it.

Concerning the insurance itself, it’s best to check for a dog-bite exclusion or similar limitation. Though it may cover damage from pet accidents, you should search for that additional detail to preempt any problems to ensure the security of your rentals.

5. Request an Additional Payment For Your Pet-Friendly Rental Properties

You can offset the higher costs of pet-friendly rentals with an additional charge. Your options include pet rent, a pet deposit or a nonrefundable pet fee. Depending on your set of circumstances, one or more of the following charges may seem appropriate.

  • Pet rent: A monthly charge that falls between $20 and $100. You add it to the baseline rent price.
  • Pet deposit: A refundable fee to cover any pet-related damages. Research state laws before you proceed.
  • Nonrefundable pet fee: An up-front cost for allowing the tenant to keep a pet on your property.

As you evaluate these options, keep in mind that some states have restrictions on this type of practice. Also, if the fee you impose is too high, a judge may not enforce it if a tenant chooses to challenge you. Keep the costs within reason.

Protecting Your Pet-Friendly Rental Properties

Even with the risks of pet-friendly rentals, they’re well worth the extra investment. Sure, you may have to pay more for maintenance and handle similar issues. But the benefits of a pet policy are just as important to acknowledge.

Now that you allow pets in your rental properties, you’ll enjoy a larger pool of potential tenants and higher rent payments. More than that, you can feel a sense of pride in the knowledge that you’re doing a good thing.