Property Management Maryland, Rental Pet Policy, Simple Pet Policy For Landlords

Renters Warehouse BW Metro | February 19, 2024

Rental Pet Policy: Should I Accept Pets In My Rental Properties?

Are you a property owner and finding it difficult to decide whether to accept pets in your rental properties? Well, you are not alone. Deciding on a simple pet policy for landlords is one of the most common dilemmas many face.

Pets can be great companions for humans, but some valid concerns may arise when leasing out your property. As a landlord, you want your property's best tenants while ensuring its protection and preservation. But should allowing pets in your rental properties be a deal-breaker?

Let’s explore the pros and cons of incorporating a rental pet policy and help you decide what is best for you as a landlord.

Simple Pet Policy for Landlords: The Benefits of Allowing Pets in Rental Properties

Several potential benefits come from allowing pets in your rental properties. It's essential to weigh these advantages against any potential risks or downsides. By opening your doors to tenants with pets, you can tap into a larger market of renters, command higher rents, and even see longer tenancy periods.

In the following section, we will delve into these benefits in more detail to help you decide to accept pets in your rental property.

Attracting a Larger Pool of Potential Tenants

Allowing pets in your rental properties can significantly broaden your potential tenant base. As many households own pets, pet-friendly properties are in high demand. By permitting pets, you tap into a market segment many property owners neglect, immediately positioning your property as a more attractive option.

These potential tenants, who often face difficulties finding a property that accepts pets, are more likely to commit to a long-term lease to avoid the hassle of searching for a pet-friendly rental in the future. Thus, being pet-friendly can create a win-win situation for both you as a landlord and your potential tenants.

Ability to Charge Higher Rent and Fees

As a landlord, opening your doors to pets means you can take advantage of the opportunity to charge higher rent and fees. Pet owners, particularly those with dogs and cats, are frequently willing to pay a premium for a rental property that accommodates their furry companions. This can manifest as slightly increased monthly rent or a non-refundable pet fee at the start of the lease.

Additionally, you can establish a pet deposit, which serves as a financial safety net for any potential damages caused by the pet. This not only provides you with extra earnings but also offers financial protection.

Considering that pet-friendly rentals are less common, there is a high demand and less price sensitivity among prospective tenants. This ability to charge higher rent and fees can significantly improve your return on investment and overall profitability.

Longer Tenancy with Fewer Vacancies

Pets can often be a deciding factor for tenants when choosing a rental property. It's not uncommon for tenants with pets to stay in the same property for longer periods, mainly to avoid the challenge of finding another pet-friendly rental. The result is a lower tenant turnover rate for you, which means fewer vacant periods and a more consistent rental income.

In addition, tenants allowed to have pets tend to be happier and more satisfied with their living situation, contributing to a positive landlord-tenant relationship. This increased tenant satisfaction can further enhance the likelihood of lease renewals, maintaining a steady occupancy rate in your property. Hence, being pet-friendly attracts a larger tenant pool and promotes longer tenancies, ensuring that your rental property continues to generate income with fewer interruptions.

Dog sniffing a ripped wire meshCommon Concerns About Enforcing a Rental Pet Policy 

Pets are often considered family members and loyal companions, but allowing them in specific spaces can raise concerns. In this section, we will address some common concerns you may have as a landlord if you're considering allowing pets in your rental properties.

Potential Property Damage

One of the main concerns landlords have with allowing pets in their rental properties is the potential for property damage. Pets, mainly young and untrained ones, can inadvertently cause destruction. This could involve chewing on fixtures and fittings, scratching doors or floors, or even digging up gardens.

Cats, for instance, may use furniture or carpeting as scratching posts, while dogs may chew on door frames or dig holes in the yard. Furthermore, some pets may have accidents, especially if not properly house-trained, leading to stains or odors that are difficult to remove. As a result, landlords might incur additional cleaning, repair, or replacement costs.

Despite the potential for increased wear and tear, this risk can be mitigated by charging a pet deposit to cover any potential damages. This provides a financial cushion, ensuring the landlord has the means to address any pet-related issues that may arise, thereby maintaining the quality and value of the property.

Noise Complaints from Neighbors

Pets, especially dogs, can sometimes be a source of noise, potentially leading to complaints from neighbors. Dogs, in particular, may bark, howl, or whimper when bored, lonely, or anxious. This can become a nuisance for nearby residents, mainly if the noise is frequent or occurs at inappropriate times, such as early morning or late at night.

Parrots and other birds can also cause noise issues with loud calls. Even cats, generally quiet pets, can create noise by running around or knocking objects over, particularly during active nocturnal hours. While these noises are part of normal pet behavior, they may be disruptive to neighbors and negatively impact their quality of life.

Therefore, as a landlord, it's crucial to consider these potential noise issues when deciding whether to allow pets in your rental properties. Consider implementing certain rules or guidelines, such as limiting the size or breed of dogs, to minimize the potential for noise complaints.

Legal Considerations

There are also crucial legal considerations to bear in mind when deciding to allow pets in your rental properties. First and foremost, it's crucial to understand local laws and regulations.

Some jurisdictions have specific rules about the types of pets allowed, the number of pets per dwelling, and even breed or size restrictions. Local laws may sometimes prohibit landlords from outright denying pets in rental properties.

In addition, landlords need to be aware of fair housing laws. In the United States, for instance, the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandate that landlords make reasonable accommodations for tenants with service animals or emotional support animals, regardless of a "no pets" policy.

Furthermore, landlords should also consider the liability issues that could arise from accidents caused by tenants' pets. This could be a dog bite or property damage caused by a pet. To safeguard against such liability, landlords may require tenants to carry renters' insurance with specific coverage for pet-related incidents.

Lastly, it would be beneficial to outline pet policies in the lease agreement clearly. This can include rules about the type and number of pets allowed, pet behavior, cleanliness, and damages. With clear rules in place, the landlord and tenant understand their responsibilities, minimizing potential conflicts.

Things to Consider When Allowing Pets in Your Rental Properties

If you decide to allow pets in your rental properties, setting clear policies and guidelines is essential. Here are some key points to consider:

Create a Clear Pet Policy

A clear and comprehensive pet policy will outline the rules and expectations for tenants with pets. The policy should describe the types of pets you will allow, any size or breed restrictions, and the maximum number of pets permitted per unit. Defining what constitutes a "pet" can also help prevent misunderstandings - for example, you may wish to specify that aquarium fish or caged hamsters are not considered pets under the policy.

Specify the Types of Pets You Will and Will Not Allow

While some landlords choose to allow all pets, others may prefer to limit the types of pets permitted. Some common restrictions include banning certain breeds of dogs that are often deemed "aggressive," limiting the size of pets, or prohibiting exotic animals. Be sure to research local laws, as some areas prohibit breed-specific legislation.

Create a Pet Addendum for Your Lease

A pet addendum to your lease agreement is a legal document that details the terms and conditions of allowing a pet in the rental unit. It should include information about the pet deposit, additional pet rent, and what happens if a pet causes damage. The addendum should also state that the tenant will be responsible for any harm the pet causes to others.

Enforce the Rules

Enforcing the pet policy is crucial. This includes penalties for residents who bring a pet onto the property without permission. The penalties could range from fines to eviction, depending on the severity of the violation. Be sure to communicate these potential penalties to all tenants.

Consider a Higher Rental Rate

To offset the potential extra wear and tear caused by pets, you may charge higher rent for tenants with pets. This could be a flat fee per month or an additional amount per pet. Remember to ensure that any charges are reasonable, lawful, and spelled out in your pet addendum.

By keeping these points in mind, you can create a pet-friendly environment that benefits you and your tenants while ensuring your property is protected. 

Understand the Difference Between Pets, Service Animals, and Emotional Support Animals

Landlords must understand that service animals and emotional support animals are not considered "pets" under the law. Service animals are trained to perform specific tasks for individuals with disabilities, while emotional support animals provide comfort or emotional support to their owners. According to laws in many jurisdictions, landlords must allow these animals on their properties, even if a general "no pets" policy is in place.

This is considered a reasonable accommodation for tenants with disabilities. Therefore, your pet policy should clearly distinguish between pets and these types of assistance animals, and it should align with fair housing laws and regulations to avoid potential legal issues.

Young happy couple developing a pet policy for their rental property.Developing a Comprehensive and Beneficial Rental Pet Policy

While allowing pets in your rental properties comes with challenges and considerations, the benefits often outweigh the risks. A pet-friendly policy can attract a larger pool of potential tenants, provide the possibility to charge higher rent and fees, and result in longer tenancies with fewer vacancies. Concerns over potential property damage, noise complaints, and legal considerations can be managed with a clear pet policy, a comprehensive lease addendum, and a thorough understanding of local laws and regulations. 

At RW BW Metro, we aim to simplify this process by providing expert advice and practical solutions. With our experience in managing rental properties, we can help you implement a pet-friendly policy that maximizes your returns while minimizing potential risks. Whether you're new to property rentals or a seasoned landlord, partnering with RW BW Metro can help you navigate the complexities of allowing pets in your rental properties easily and confidently. 

For more information and help, contact us today!


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