My friend Terry Sprouse over at “FixemUpRentemOut”, recently asked me how I felt about allowing pets in rental property. This is a question that plagues just about every landlord I know. For years I had very mixed feelings about whether or not to allow pets in my houses. It took me a long time to decide on a policy that I felt comfortable with.
If you allow pets, there is a pretty good chance that they will do some type of damage to your property. So it’s imperative as a landlord that you have collected a damage deposit. I always charged an upfront fee plus an additional amount of money each month for each pet. In a perfect world you would have enough extra money with these fees to replace the carpet when the tenant moved out. It was my experience that the pets ALWAYS ruined the carpet.
Why did I charge for each pet? The answer is simple. Two dogs or cats are almost certain to cause at least twice as much damage as one.
While having to replace the carpet was always the biggest expense, there were some other things that happened over the years.
- The corners were chewed off the kitchen and bathroom cabinets.
- The vinyl flooring was chewed up in the doorways.
- Screens were damaged in the doors.
- One tenant removed the receptacle covers to paint, and the dog chewed a hole big enough to go into the next room. That was one sick dog according to the tenant.
What if you don’t allow pets?
If you don’t allow pets, you will lose a certain group of potential tenants before they even look at the house.
Those folks that love their pets almost as much as they love their children, won’t rent your property in most cases. But some of these same folks will just say they don’t have any pets and bring them anyway. When this happens, you often end up with a lot of damage you didn’t count on having to repair, and you won’t have that damage deposit to pay for it.
What’s the answer?
The answer is that only you can decide. Ultimately I decided to allow pets since they always ended up with them anyway. If I told them that their pets were welcome that gave me the opportunity to charge for them. I could also have “the talk” with the tenants. I wanted them to understand that while the pets were welcome, they would be responsible for any damage that they did above and beyond the fees charged. They were also told that they were getting a “flea free home” to move into, so if there were fleas when they moved out, those charges would also be their responsibility.
Another thing that I did was to make some changes in the lease. I put in clauses that said that if they acquired a pet after they moved in that wasn’t on the lease, they had to pay the entire up-front fee plus the additional monthly fee of $20.00 from the beginning of the lease. What this did was lead to a lot of confessions at the lease signing. Confessions about the pet(s) that they actually had, and I was able to go ahead and get the lease set up properly from the very beginning.
Whatever you decide is right for your business, will be the right answer for you. This might also be one of those times where a little trial and error is involved before reaching a decision.