Should pets be allowed at your rental property?
It doesn’t matter if you’re just getting started with owning rental properties, or if you’ve owned them for years, the issue of allowing pets at a rental property can be contentious at best but the reality is that more renters than ever before have pets and if you plan on allowing them you should prepare for allowing pets in advance by doing the following:
Include a “Pet Agreement” in the Lease
You can reduce the additional risks created by having pets on your property by creating smart pet policies, putting them into a “pet agreement,” and including the agreement as part of your lease. (Your lease should refer to the pet rules and incorporate them as part of your lease.) This provides notice to tenants that their continued tenancy depends on honoring these rules.
Require that all tenants sign the pet agreement, even non-pet owners. That way, if a tenant gets a pet later, she already knows what the rules are and what is expected if she wants to stay in their apartment.
Here are some common provisions to consider including in your pet agreement.
Policy 1: Identify the Types of Pets Allowed
Your pet agreement should specify which types of pets are allowed. Some landlords allow only common domesticated animals such as dogs, cats, birds, fish, guinea pigs, rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, and small reptiles. The agreement should also specify any limit to the number of pets allowed.
“Dangerous” dog breeds. Some landlords ban certain dog breeds that many people believe have a propensity toward violence, such as pit bulls and Rottweilers. Although the question of whether certain breeds are truly dangerous is a topic of controversy, landlords are legally entitled to ban these breeds from rental property. (Fair housing laws apply to human beings, not to dogs.) Before you allow such breeds, check with your insurer. Some companies won’t issue liability policies if certain so-called “dangerous breeds” are kept on the property.
Click here to learn more about the landlord’s liability for tenants’ dogs.
Weight limits. Instead of, or in addition to, banning certain breeds, some landlords limit the weight of dogs. For example, a landlord might only allow dogs under 20 pounds.
Tenants’ pets only. In your pet agreement, make it clear that you allow only tenants’ pets. You don’t want your tenants caring for other people’s pets in their rental unit. Also specify whether you will allow guests to bring their pets with them while visiting tenants.
Require that tenants get your approval for any pet they wish to keep in their apartment. You may wish to forego this approval requirement for certain types of pets that you don’t think will cause problems or trigger complaints, such as goldfish.
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