If you have a property in Katy, Texas, you’ll obviously want to maximize profitability however you can. Some decisions you make will have obvious repercussions; for example, some neighborhoods are clearly better investments than others. But some decisions are harder to evaluate; for example, if you charge more rent, you’ll stand to make more money, but you’ll also drive away potential tenants, making it harder to make that additional money.
Pets present a similar dilemma. The gist of the problem is this: allowing pets in your dwelling will open your doors to a wider pool of tenants, but may also expose you to certain risks that you wouldn’t face by disallowing pets.
Approximately 36.5 percent of households in America own dogs, with an average of 1.6 dogs per household, and 30.4 percent of households own cats, with an average of 2.1 cats per household. That amounts to more than 144 million pet dogs and cats that all need somewhere to stay—so someone has to allow pets at their properties.
What are the benefits? You’ll open yourself up to a wider pool of prospective renters. Most people who own a pet aren’t willing to get rid of it just to move to a new location. If you don’t allow pets, you’ll instantly make the “no” list of more than a third of American households. Plus, you’ll need to remember that many apartments don’t allow pets; if you distinguish yourself by allowing them, you’ll stand out from the competition, and it could serve as the tiebreaking factor between you and a close competitor.
So what are the risks associated with allowing pets in your apartment?
- The biggest potential risk here is the damage an animal could cause to your property. For example, a dog may chew on the corners of your cabinets or a cat may scratch the walls. Most damage from pets isn’t significant as an isolated incident, but can add up to enormous wear and tear on your property over time.
- Pet odors are also notoriously difficult to remove. If a dog or cat urinates on the carpet, for example, the scent may linger indefinitely.
- While some people love pets, others are severely allergic to them. The dander from the pets of one tenant may linger enough to interfere with the allergies of a new tenant, or those of a neighbor, decreasing the appeal of the property.
- Some animals are noisier than others. Dogs, for example, may bark excessively at inopportune times, and exotic animals like birds make even more noise that could disrupt the neighborhood.
What You Can Do
Fortunately, this decision isn’t an all-or-nothing one. You don’t have to simply “allow pets” or “disallow pets.” Instead, you can establish specific protocols for what types of pets can be allowed, and under what circumstances they’ll be allowed.
These are just some of the factors you should consider:
- Pet fees. Your first option is the simplest; you’ll charge your tenant a monthly fee on top of ordinary rent for each pet they own. A fee of $10 to $25 a month per pet is common here, but you may want to impose limitations on the type and number of animals (see below).
- Additional deposits. Instead of fees, you could require your pet-owning tenants pay an initial deposit in addition to any security deposit you may already collect. In this case, you’ll require your tenants to pay an additional few hundred dollars to cover any damages their pet may be responsible for.
- Animal type and number. Different pets come with different risks. You may, for example, only allow dogs or only allow cats, and set a maximum limit for the number of pets allowed. This can help you maintain control over the situation. You may also stipulate that only certain breeds are allowed on the property; some insurance companies won’t offer liability insurance for properties with “aggressive” dog breeds on the premises.
- Animal size. It’s also common for landlords to impose a size or weight limit on the animals allowed in the apartment, especially with dogs. For example, you may allow only dogs that are under 20 pounds. Bigger dogs are more likely to cause damage, and may cause bigger messes as well.
- Animal history and demeanor. If in doubt, you can always stage a manual review process for animals in your property as well. Find out if the animals have an aggressive or destructive past, and get a feel for what their demeanor is like.
- Specific requirements. You may also consider ensuring that your tenants follow specific requirements for their pets; for example, you may require that all of their animals are formally licensed, or set noise regulations that stipulate an animal should not be heard after a certain time of night. You’ll also want to consider whether outside pets are allowed in your property, or if it’s limited to tenant-owned pets only.
What If a Tenant Violates Your Pet Policy?
Sneaky tenants may wish to violate your pet policies if they don’t agree to your terms. For example, they may claim to have no pets to secure the apartment, and bring a cat when they move in anyway, or they may acquire new pets and fail to tell you so you can update their pet fees. If you discover that the tenant is violating your explicitly written policy, you can give them a formal warning and request that they correct the situation (such as by giving up the pet or paying a higher monthly fee). If they refuse to comply, you may have grounds for eviction.
Making these types of decisions as a property owner can be challenging, especially if you’re inexperienced. That’s why one of the best decisions you can make is hiring an experienced property management services firm like Green Residential. We’ll solve most of the tough problems for you, and take care of things like tenant screening, property maintenance, and if necessary, legal action to protect your property. If you’re interested in learning more, contact us today!