Last modified on November 8th, 2018
By Elizabeth Millar
Property managers have to make some hard choices when they decide to establish rules for their rental units. According to a helpful report from Michigan State Extension, deciding to allow or prohibit pets might be one of those tough decisions. Before deciding, it’s a good idea to carefully examine the pros and cons of running a pet-friendly rental property.
Pros and Cons of Pet-Friendly Rentals
Obviously, properties that allow pets can expect to attract a wider range of applicants. According to Michigan State Extension, pet owners may tend to be more responsible because they have assumed responsibility for a pet. In many ways, pet owners aren’t so different from parents. They may also tend to keep their leases longer, perhaps because they have fewer choices about where to live. It’s also important to be aware of the laws allowing service animals; it’s critical to remain compliant to avoid legal issues.
Drawbacks of Allowing Pets In
While it’s easy to agree that few people have anything against pet owners, it’s the pets themselves that may cause a problem. Property managers may have a few problems when they open their doors to lots of animals:
- Dogs may bite, threaten, or annoy other residents. They could generate insurance claims and even cause some people to move out. Some renters may have serious allergies to pets as well.
- Pets cause odors and make messes. If renters don’t clean up after their animals, the property may incur additional costs.
- Insurance companies may raise premiums for some kinds of pets. Since some animals pose additional risks, insurers may charge property managers more for insurance.
Why Consider Having a Pet-Friendly Complex?
One thing that might offset some of the risks and costs of allowing in pets is the chance to earn more money. For instance, pet-friendly rental properties can increase revenues by charging extra fees or even non-refundable cleaning deposits to pet owners. It’s up to the property managers to make sure this extra revenue offsets extra cleaning or insurance costs. Also, by increasing the available pool of applicants, some properties may even be able to charge higher rents. At the least, it should be possible to increase occupancy rates in some properties that have been difficult to rent.
Steps to Take Before Opening a Property to Pets
First, property managers should check with their insurance companies to see if allowing pets will impact their premiums. Some insurers allow most breeds of dogs, cats, fish, and birds with a minimal or even no additional charge. Allowing pets doesn’t mean that the property has to allow all kinds of pets. Obviously, few property managers would be happy to see a renter move in with an adult chimp or six-foot python. However, it’s reasonable to consider allowing typical pets. It’s also a good idea to ask renters to purchase renters insurance to cover their own liability, keep dogs on leashes when they are outside, and so on.
In addition, it’s only sensible to consider adding an additional pet fee or deposit to the rent for cats or dogs. Also, it might be important to consider a provision in the lease that ensures that maintenance people can have access to the apartment to make repairs and not have to worry about a protective pet who wants to guard his property. Because of this, some properties limit the weight of dogs; but other properties only restrict certain breeds. Also, consider some reasonable limit for the number of pets allowed in each unit. Few properties allow more than one or two dogs or cats.
Finally, property owners might survey current renters to find out if they have strong objections to having pets as neighbors. If a renter does have an allergy or strong objection, it’s probably wise to consider that individual’s needs on a case-by-case basis.
Are Pet-Friendly Rentals Also Management-Friendly Rentals?
By completely barring pets, a rental property might also be barring an entire group of renters. Property managers might explore their options so that inviting pets into their property works out in their favor and doesn’t bother existing renters.
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