When it comes to renting with pets, landlords and renters often have different views.
A comprehensive pet policy protects your rental property against potential pet-related damages. As a landlord, it's your responsibility to carefully evaluate the pros and cons of allowing pets and create a pet policy suitable for your property. It's important to clearly communicate your expectations to your tenants by outlining the ground rules in a lease clause.
Whether you choose to allow pets or not, it is necessary to include a pet policy in a lease agreement. This policy should either state that pets are not permitted on the property under any circumstances or provide guidelines on what and how pets are permitted.
How to Get Around the No-Pet Policy?
It can be frustrating for pet owners to find rental properties that allow pets, especially in areas with a limited supply of pet-friendly rentals. Some tenants may even consider sneaking their pets into a rental that has a no-pet policy. This can lead to consequences, including eviction and potential legal action. There are a few options for pet owners who want to get around the no-pet policy, including obtaining an emotional support animal letter or negotiating with the landlord.
After surveying 1,000 tenants, it was found that approximately 90% of renters have pets. On the other hand, around 69% of landlords do not allow pets in their rental properties due to concerns about potential pet-related issues such as odor, property damage, lack of training, noise complaints, and the property's suitability for pets. In a competitive rental market, landlords may choose not to risk losing potential tenants who don't have pets. One solution to this issue could be for renters with pets to pay an increased deposit to cover possible damages. However, around 88% of pet owners have never had any complaints or caused any damage to rental properties.
Is It Illegal for Landlords to Say No Pets?
Landlords can refuse a pet for several reasons, including concerns about potential damage to the property, noise complaints, allergies of other tenants, and safety concerns. But it's important to remember that landlords must follow fair housing laws and can't turn down a pet because of the owner's race, religion, disability, or other protected characteristics.
What Are the Reasons a Landlord Can Refuse a Pet?
When it comes to a landlord's pet policy, there are several reasons why you may refuse a pet. Some common causes include concerns about possible property damage, noise, and odors. Additionally, some landlords may have insurance or property regulations prohibiting certain animal breeds. Consider that the reason for refusing pets must abide by fair housing laws and cannot discriminate against tenants with disabilities who require service animals.
Ensure the pet policy is clear in the lease and that you follow the laws and rules in your state. If a landlord wants to change their pet policy, they will need to get their tenants' permission or ensure the lease has language that allows for changes like this.
Should Pets Be Allowed? Look at the Pro’s and Con’s
Renting to tenants with pets can have advantages and disadvantages for landlords. One significant advantage is the potential to increase rental income by allowing renters with pets. However, landlords must also consider the additional costs of pet damage and the potential for noise complaints. If a landlord decides to allow pets, it is essential to create a pet addendum as part of the lease agreement, outlining all pet-related rules and regulations. It is important to note that all parties involved must agree on any changes to the lease agreement.
Let's take a closer look at some of the pros and cons of renting to pet owners to better understand the implications of such a decision.
- Increased Demand: Allowing pets in your rental property can open up your pool of potential tenants, as many pet owners struggle to find pet-friendly housing.
- Higher Rent: Pet owners are often willing to pay a higher rent or a pet deposit, which can increase your rental income.
- Longer Tenancy: Pet owners tend to be more settled and stay in one place for longer periods, which can reduce tenant turnover and vacancy rates.
- Responsible Tenants: Pet owners are often trustworthy and caring and most likely will treat your property with respect and care.
- Emotional Support: For some tenants, having a pet can be a source of emotional support and can aid mental health issues.
- Property Damage: Pets can cause significant damage to a rental property, including scratches, stains, and odors, which can be costly to repair.
- Noise Complaints: Barking dogs and meowing cats can be a source of disturbance to other tenants and can lead to noise complaints.
- Liability Issues: If a tenant's pet injures someone or causes damage to someone else's property, you as the landlord may be held liable.
- Cleaning Costs: Even well-behaved pets can shed hair and dander, which can require additional cleaning and maintenance between tenants.
- Lease Violations: Some tenants may try to sneak in a pet without your permission, which can lead to lease violations and legal issues.
How to Change A Pet Policy
To make it easier to change your pet policy, you should include a clause in your Pet Addendum that allows you to amend them by providing tenants with reasonable notice, typically 30 days.
TenantCloud offers universal state-specific leases and rental pet policy agreements for landlords. It's also worth considering a "grandfather clause" for any pet policy changes, which would exempt tenants already in the building from having to comply with the new rules for pets they already had before the changes occurred. This clause would only apply to new pets they acquire, and without it, some tenants may have to give up their pets that no longer comply with the new rules, causing resistance.
Renting with Service and Emotional Support Animals
As a landlord, it's important to understand the laws surrounding service animals and emotional support animals (ESAs) in rental properties. While landlords cannot charge extra fees or deny a rental to someone with a service animal, the rules around ESAs are less clear. If a tenant has an ESA, they must provide an ESA letter from the professional on letterhead and include their license number.
Service animals are not considered pets and are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It means landlords cannot charge pet rent or pet fees or restrict an animal's breed, species, or size. However, the ADA does not cover emotional support animals, and landlords may charge additional fees or require a pet agreement.
If a tenant is looking to rent with a service animal, it is prohibited for a landlord to disclose a potential tenant's disability. It is essential to show that the animal companion is a registered service animal. As previously said, emotional support animals only need a doctor's note stating individual needs.
Responsibilities of Tenants with Pets
Ensure tenants take responsibility for their pets while living in your rental property. A pet policy should clearly outline the expectations and requirements for pet owners, including ensuring that their pets are up to date on their required vaccinations and have identification tags. It is important to research local laws and regulations regarding pet ownership to ensure compliance.
Also, the pet addendum should have rules about how pets should behave, like requiring dogs to be on a leash outside the apartment and other animals to be in appropriate cages. Tenants should also be responsible for cleaning up after their pets inside and out, as well as paying for any damages caused by their pets.
Consider advising or requiring tenants to obtain renters' insurance, including liability coverage for their pets. If the pet agreement is broken or the pet becomes a nuisance or danger to others, the property manager may ask the pet to leave or end the tenancy. It is important to note that if the pet is removed, the lease agreement will still be valid and must be followed by the tenant.