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February 6, 2018

When it comes to pet policies, many landlords have strong feelings for or against the idea. However, with the increasing number of Millennials opting for pet ownership over raising kids (turning the pet industry into a $69 billion dollar industry), many landlords are opting for pet-friendly rentals.

Opening up your rental to pet owners will vastly increase the number of applicants you have to choose from. If you decide to become a pet-friendly landlord, utilize these key tips for making the experience the best possible for you and your tenants.

1: Create A Specific Policy

Start by brainstorming your specific pet policy. Answer some of the following questions during this exercise:

●      What pets will you welcome (e.g. dogs, cats, snakes, rodents)?

●      Will you have breed or size restrictions?

●      Will you have age restrictions (e.g. no dogs under the age of 6 months)?

●      Will you have a limit to the number of pets allowed at the property?

●      Will you require any proof of vaccination or registration with the county (where applicable)?

●      What will your process for pet approval be?

Take time to think through each section of your pet policy and polish it to be as clear as possible for potential tenants.

For example, your policy at the end might sound something like this:

“This property is pet-friendly. We allow both dogs and cats, with a limit of two dogs or two cats at the property. We have no breed restrictions but do require proof that your pets are up to date on all vaccines and registered with Larimer county. If dogs will be living at the property, we require a meet and greet to ensure only well behaved animals are living at the property. In addition, we require a $200 pet deposit per animal.”

Once you have your policy created, make sure you add the regulations to your lease.

2: Determine Your Fees & Deposits

When it comes to operating a pet-friendly rental, there are a few different approaches you can take to protect yourself from the cost of pet damages.
You can:

1. Require a pet fee per animal. Pet fees are non-refundable.

2. Require a pet deposit. Deposits should be returned at the end of tenancy if the property has not been damaged by the pets.

3. Require a monthly pet rent.

Some landlords opt for one of these, while other landlords use a couple of these options in conjunction. For example, you could require a $200 pet deposit up front at move-in as well as $25 a month in pet rent that is non-refundable.

3: Prep Your Property

When it comes to creating an appealing property for pet owners, there are some simple things you can do that not only make your property more valuable but also will protect it from common pet damages.

Consider ridding your property of any carpet and installing durable hardwood style flooring. This will prevent damages from pet accidents and is easier to keep clean for pet owners. Carpet also tends to trap dander and fur to a greater degree, so a hardwood flooring type will make the turnover and cleaning process much more simple.

Add a fence to the backyard if it doesn’t already have one. If an existing fence has any damages, be sure to repair those. Dog owners will place a high value on a fenced-in yard, allowing you to charge a higher premium for the property.

4: Screen Thoroughly

While many landlords fear the damage pets can cause, the reality is that thorough screening can save you from this headache. Responsible pet owners will keep their animals from destroying the property as they will want to get their deposits back and keep their rental record clean.

Be sure you ask for previous landlord references and take the time to speak to these references. Some landlords opt to request a Pet Resume (read more about pet resumes here). You can also schedule a meet and greet with dogs to see how well the applicants handle their pets.

Run a complete background check, including criminal, credit, and evictions to get a better picture of how responsible the applicant is.

Take your time selecting a responsible tenant and pets will become a non-issue.

5: Communicate Clearly

When it comes to your expectations for tenants with pets, be sure you are communicating them clearly. For example, if you require a pet fee, not a pet deposit, be sure they understand from the start that this is a non-refundable fee.

Make sure any rules regarding the property are understood as well. For example, if the rental is part of a multi-unit property, clearly state in their lease that they must clean up after their pet immediately.

The better you communicate policies up front, the fewer misunderstandings you will encounter.

Bonus Tip: Include The Furry Pal In Your Welcome Package

If you want to be a truly pet-friendly landlord and stand out from the crowd, include your new tenant’s furry pal in your welcome package. Add a special treat or toy to let your new tenants know you are thinking of their four legged family member.

Remember, these tips are geared towards being pet-friendly. However, be sure you always follow Fair Housing Laws in regards to service and assistance animals. The above mentioned fees, deposits, and extra rent are not applicable to service and assistance animals. When in doubt, consult with a local attorney who specializes in landlord law.

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