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Residential Leasing How-To: Writing your Pet Policy

pet-policy-how-toLast year an impressive 68 percent of households owned a pet of some kind. As a landlord allowing pets can be a tough choice. On one hand, adopting a pet-friendly approach gives you a much larger pool of potential tenants and can increase your income. On the other hand, you may have to deal with damage, injury, and funky smells. Americans take pet ownership very seriously, so it is important to be very specific when writing your pet policy.

Screen your tenants for good ownership skills

The best way to ensure that everything goes smoothly with your tenants and their pets is to make sure you’re dealing with responsible owners. A good and manageable method for screening is to write a clause into your pet policy dictating that tenants provide proof that their pet is spayed or neutered, and is current on all of their vaccinations and licenses. Good pet owners should be able to provide you with this information with little hassle. You could also request a reference from a previous landlord. This will give you an idea of how noisy and destructive the pet in question may have been in the past.

Decide for yourself

Evaluate pets on a case by case basis. A blanket policy can allow troublemakers to slip through the cracks. Don’t just take your new tenant’s word for it. Ask to set up a meeting with your prospective tenant and their furry friend. Some landlords opt for breed restrictions, but breed can be a misleading filter. Evaluate how the pet reacts to you when you meet them. Your comfort level with the pet is a better standard to judge by than breed. Make sure to ask your tenant good questions. How long have they had their pet? Has their pet had any training? Has chewing been a problem in the past? Does their pet have a history of aggression?

Don’t leave holes

Be very specific in your pet policy. Dictate the number of animals your tenant is allowed to have in the home. If you don’t allow pets, make sure that this is clearly stated in the lease. Consider setting a weight limit if you prefer that your tenant only has smaller pets. Address any and all pet related concerns in a pet policy agreement so that your tenant’s questions are answered in full.

Require a deposit

One way to hold your tenants accountable for their pets is to require an additional deposit. If you find yourself in a bad situation with a damaged property, at least you’ll have extra money to restore it. This is a bit of extra incentive for your tenant to make sure their pet is well-behaved.

 

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