I own 16 rental properties and I prefer not to rent to tenants with pets, but that does’t mean I never do. There are situations where I will rent to tenants with certain pets. I am in the process of renting two of my rental homes; rental property number 8 and rental property number 9. When it comes time to rent one of my properties, choosing the right tenant can mean the difference in thousands of dollars. There are many steps you can take to find a great tenant and many tenants will want to rent with a pet. I have a dog that I love and there is no way I would give up that dog so I understand why tenants want to have pets. It is tricky allowing pets because they can destroy a house, but they can also add revenue to a rental property.
▼ Continue Reading Below
For more information on my rental properties and rental strategies, check out my complete guide to long-term rental properties.
The dangers of allowing pets in rental properties
If a pet is trained well or the pet lives outside, there is a great chance that pet will never harm a home. If a pet is not trained well or is an older pet, they can do a lot of damage to a house. The biggest risk with pets doing damage to a home is urination inside the house. If you have had the pleasure of being in a home that has pet damage, it is not pretty and smells horrible. The smell can be overwhelming especially from cats.
Pets can destroy carpet, hardwood floors, sub floors and even drywall. In some cases pets will try to chew through doors, trim or destroy grass in the backyard. If you are going to allow pets, you have to do your due diligence on the pet and weigh the risk of damage versus the reward of more money.
Why would any landlord allow pets in their rental property?
People with pets still need a place to live and many times they will pay more to rent a house than non-pet owners. Pet owners may pay more in monthly rent or pay a higher security deposit. I have rented my homes to tenants with pets, but I have always charged a higher deposit or monthly pet fee. That higher rent or deposit can make the risk of allowing pets worth it, if you check out the pet first.
What types of pets should you allow as a landlord?
I have never allowed a cat in my rental properties, because cat smell is so much worse than dog smell and much harder to get out. I have smelled houses with cats from 50 feet away with the doors closed. If you have the pleasure of entering a house like that, the smell sticks with you once you leave the home, it’s not fun.
In my experience the larger the pet, the better the chance is they will do damage. A large dog is stronger and can do more damage than a smaller dog. A large dog also urinates more and leaves bigger messes. If I do allow a dog in a home, I will allow a small dog and definitely charge more.
Should you allow aggressive breeds in a rental property?
Many cities have ordinances against aggressive dogs including pit bulls. If a city says it is illegal to own a pit bull that should tell a landlord something about how wise it is to allow pit bulls in their rentals. If an aggressive breed hurts someone and a landlord rented a home knowingly allowing an aggressive breed dog, then that landlord could be held liable for allowing the tenants to rent the home with that dog. This is another great reason to stick with smaller, less aggressive breeds.
How many pets should you allow when you rent a home?
The more dogs and cats, the better the chance damage will be done to a house. The more pets there are, the better chance the owners aren’t cleaning up and paying attention to the pets. The pets will be more likely to play aggressively with each other and cause damage as well. The less pets, if any a tenant has, the better when you rent a home.
How do you know of a pet will do damage to a rental property?
Just like you ask tenants for references, you can also ask for pet references. The best way to see how well a pet will behave is to check with previous landlords to see if the tenants had pets and if the pets did any damage. If the tenants cannot provide a pet reference then it can be very hard to see how the pets behave unless the tenants will show you their current home. It is not a bad idea to see the tenants take care of their current residence if they will let you see it.
How much more should you charge for pets in a rental home?
I usually adjust rent or the deposit increase based on the individual situation. The more pets, the better chance for damage and the more I will charge a tenant. For a small dog that I think has very little chance of doing damage, I may charge $250 more in deposit and $25 or $50 more in rent a month. For multiple dogs I may charge a $500 deposit and $50 a month more in rent. If I am trying to get a premium amount of rent for a property, I may not charge more for monthly rent for pets. I may only charge a higher deposit, because I know by charging a premium amount for rent, I should expect to attract people with pets who can’t find any other houses to rent and as a result are willing to pay more to have a dog. All things being equal, I would rather have a tenant without a pet at all.
How do you protect against tenants having pets without a landlord’s knowledge?
In my lease, I have many clauses the tenants must adhere to or they can be fined. In the lease it says if any pet is found on the property without permission from the landlord, the tenant can be charged $750 per occurrence. That is a hefty fine and hopefully makes my tenants think twice about having pets that are not allowed. This does not protect against every tenant, and I think it is also wise to set up routine inspections on your rental properties to change furnace filters or light bulbs and see if there are any signs of pets. I have a sixth sense for pets, because I am allergic to them, especially cats.
I try to avoid tenants with pets, but I still rent to tenants with pets on occasion. The biggest factor I look at when renting a home is how qualified are the tenants. If I have a choice between two equally qualified tenants and one does not have pets, I would obviously prefer the tenants without the pets. If I have one tenant I think is much more qualified than a tenant who does not have pets, I may go with the more qualified tenant even though they have a pet. Often times a pet will behave good or bad depending on how well they are trained and how well their owner takes care of them.
For more information on how to buy the best rentals which will make the most money, check out my book: Build a Rental Property Empire: The no-nonsense book on finding deals, financing the right way, and managing wisely. The book is 374 pages long, comes in paperback or as an eBook and is an Amazon best seller.