Landlords and Real Estate Investors throughout Northern Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland often struggle with the question of whether or not they should allow tenants to have pets in their rental properties. We can certainly understand the concerns and questions that come with the thought. Especially for those landlords that AREN’T “Pet People” (they don’t have pets of their own). So what should you do if you when listing your property for rent? Should you advertise allowing pets or not?
We have rented thousands of properties in the past decade and can tell you how to answer this question. There is no right question for everyone, and it certainly comes down to your own personal preference; however, there are steps you can take to weed out potential disasters, all while protecting yourself too.
- Don’t say No, unless you really are a FIRM NO.
Unless you have some very bad pet allergies and plan to move back into the property at some point, I don’t necessarily recommend advertising your property as NO PETS ALLOWED! When you advertise your home as no pets allowed, you eliminate a large portion of your prospective tenant pool that have pets right off the bat. Depending on your potential tenant pool, this could be as high as 50% of the people that could rent your home. As a Landlord and investor, you want to keep your options open when considering tenants. If you want the best tenant possible, you don’t want to cut any off before they even see your property. That said, rather than advertising as NO PETS ALLOWED, you can advertise as “Pets Considered on a Case by Case basis.” This allows us to include the pet in the application process. We aren’t necessarily saying yes to their pet right off the bat, but we aren’t saying no either. If you have a rockstar tenant with an 800+ credit score, great income, great rental history, and a landlord reference that says they are great tenants and their pet didn’t cause any issues when they rented from them, well, you may want to consider that application. However, if the applicant has multiple, large, and disobedient pets that have bad references from previous landlords; well obviously you can say NO to that.
- Protect yourself if you say YES
If you are luck and find a rockstar tenant with a pet, you should still take the proper steps to protecting yourself and your property. Just because the pet has a track record of being obedient, it doesn’t mean your home won't suffer from additional wear and tear as a result of having the pet. As a landlord, you should still do either all or some of the following:
- Require an additional Pet deposit
- Charge a one time non-refundable Pet Fee
- Charge a monthly pet fee in addition to the monthly rent
It is very rare to find a rockstar tenant that will be willing to do all three of these; however, it isn’t inconceivable to have them do at least one. We typically go with the one time non-refundable pet payment option. This allows the landlord to keep the extra funds no matter what and use it towards repairing or maintaining any extra wear and tear that results from having a pet.
There are certainly pros and cons with allowing pets into your rental property. Our advice is to look at each situation on a case by case basis and making an educated decision on the overall prospect that you will be comfortable with. There is always risk involved with renting your property to anyone, however, the most successful real estate investors find a way to mitigate that risk as much as possible.