According to the 2009/2010 American Pet Products Association (APPA) National Pet Owners Survey, 62 percent of American households have at least one pet. That means pet-friendly property owners have more than double the pool of potential tenants than landlords who do not accept pets.
Promoting your property as “pet friendly” can be a powerful marketing tool that will allow you to fill vacancies more quickly. According to the 2007 American Veterinary Medical Association pet ownership survey, 52 percent of Americans consider their pets to be members of the family. Despite this statistic, hundreds of thousands of people relinquish their pets to animal shelters every year simply because they cannot easily find pet-friendly housing. A 2009 American Humane survey of more than 90 animal shelters across the country found that the number one reason given for owner relinquishment of pets was “moving.”
Tips for landlords:
- Consider each potential tenant and his or her pet(s) on a case-by-case basis. Rather than setting predetermined rules limiting the number, size or breed of pets allowed, assessing each renter and each pet as an individual will ensure a much better outcome for both you and your property. For example, a Great Dane is a very large dog, but this breed only needs a moderate amount of exercise and can live quite comfortably in an apartment.
- Request references from prior landlords, if applicable. A reference check will allow you to quickly find out if the tenant has a good rental history and maintained their previous residence in good condition.
- Require that pets be spayed and neutered. Spaying and neutering not only prevents unplanned litters, but also eliminates many undesirable behaviors that can cause potential property damage or liability. Neutered animals are much less likely to urine mark, display aggression or escape by digging under fences.
- Require that pets be vaccinated for distemper and rabies. Rabies vaccinations are required by law in most states, and up-to-date vaccinations are generally a good indication of a responsible pet owner.
- Request a reasonable and fully refundable pet deposit. There is no reason to automatically assume that a pet is going to cause property damage that will warrant additional rent or a nonrefundable deposit. Both pets and people have the potential to cause damage! The cost of any damages, regardless of the cause, should be assessed and subtracted from the deposit when the tenant vacates the property.
- Arrange to meet the pet(s) yourself. Seeing firsthand that a pet is friendly and well-behaved will help to allay fears of damage or liability.
- Incorporate specific pet care and property maintenance requirements into the lease, such as:
- Require cats to be kept strictly indoors
- Restrict the amount of time and/or hours that dogs can be left unattended in a fenced yard
- Prohibit tethering of dogs on the property
- Require that dog feces be removed and properly disposed of on a daily basis. If the property has common ground rather than a private yard, require that owners always clean up after their dogs immediately