Should I Allow Pets In My Rental Property?

Should I Allow Pets In My Rental Property?

Should I Allow Pets In My Rental Property?

Should I Allow Pets In My Rental Property?

I was watching my brother playing with Ted, his new puppy and I got thinking how important pets are in our lives. Watching Ted in action, however, reminded me how careful we need to be as property owners when it comes to pets.

Most of the conversation about pets and rental property centers around dogs because they are the most common and most beloved pets. Dogs are often members of the family, yet a lot of property owners are against allowing a dog on the property.

This means that pet owners often have a harder time finding a rental property. The law of supply and demand tells us that if you consider allowing pets in your property, there is a possibility that you can charge a higher rent (pet owners are willing to pay extra since they know how hard it is to find a property). The increased rental application traffic means that you will have a chance to look at more and higher quality tenants. Whether or not to allow pets to live on the property comes down to three factors, the pet, the property, and most importantly, the tenants themselves.

Is Your Property Good For Pets?

To be honest, there are properties where I would not want tenants with kids, let alone pets. This may be because of the size of the home or the neighborhood it was in. Even though you are not living in the house, you are still responsible to the neighbours. If a pet starts barking or gets overly friendly, how will the rest of the neighborhood take it?

There are certain features of some houses that are exceptionally susceptible to pet damage. Timber floorboards are a beautiful and often desirable feature, but a dog’s claws can do a great deal of damage to them in a relatively short time. The same goes for timber window frames and decking. I have even seen exterior cladding damaged to the point of requiring replacement costing $5,000 or more.

Some pet owners will try to insist that their furry friend is strictly an “outside dog”. Be wary, sooner or later, every outside dog manages to get inside. If you are truly concerned about the beautifully polished floors you just had installed, you may sleep better with a strict no pets policy.

Is the Pet Good for Your Property?

Most people think that puppies cause the most damage. While a certain amount of property damage is part of the experience of raising puppies (just like babies) the extent of the damage a puppy can do is not that great and easily repaired. At the other extreme, older dogs are a lot less damaging than older kids. An older dog usually just wants to sleep and have his ears scratched once in a while.

Dogs in the middle years are a different story, especially the larger breeds. Large breed dogs in their prime have a lot of energy to burn, and can inflict a lot of damage in a short time if they are not properly house trained.

Some property owners will allow cats before they would consider a dog. In general, cats have less “environmental impact” on your house than a large dog in its prime, but when they go bad, they go bad in a big and unfortunately permanent way.

Cats need to scratch, it is just part of their nature. The cat owner may provide a scratching post, but in some instances the timber trim of your house becomes very attractive.

The Pet is Not the One Signing the Lease

Just like kids are a reflection of their parents, you can often judge a pet by its owner. I don’t put “Pets Considered” in a property ad because it gives the impression that the property is run down. If asked, I’ll mention that pets will be considered upon application. I rarely turn an application aside just because it comes from a pet owner. When I am screening applications I want to see as many as possible. Who knows, the best one might come from a dog owner.

If my property is a brand new house I would probably never allow a large breed dog in, the risk of damage is just too great. I might consider a smaller animal, but only if I find the application to be really impressive. In any case, I always keep in mind that I am approving or disapproving the tenant, not the pet.

When a pet owner submits an application, I ask them to attach a picture of the animal. People who genuinely love their pets demonstrate it by being responsible for them and people who love their pets are usually happy to show pictures of them.

At the end of the day, you and your property are protected by your lease. In most cases, there is nothing wrong with adding special condition in the lease to require a professional flea treatment at the end of the tenancy (and professional carpet cleaning), but it is more important to screen tenants and their pets. Pet damage is always repairable and the responsible pet owner will ensure it is taken care of. However If the damage bill gets too large, even the best pet owner may argue a little, so be sure to do your regular routine inspections.

Whether a pet is involved in the lease or not, I cannot overemphasise the importance of screening your tenants before offering a lease. Owning a pet is not always a strike against an applicant. When you screen, you are trying to develop a picture of the entire person as a tenant. If they assume the responsibility to take good care of their pet, it shows that they will do the same for your property. In any case, I believe it is the tenants that you need to pay the most attention to, rather than the pet.

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About Michael Gilbert

Michael is passionate about real estate. He has been living and breathing it for the past 8 years and loves helping people with anything property-related. Being a real estate agent has given Michael a real insight into what people want. His competitive nature keeps him going whether it’s on the soccer field or creating what he believes will be the greatest property management system ever.

  • Renée

    I have 4 cats (indoor/outdoor), 1 small dog (indoor/outdoor) and I’m currently renting a house. My house is ALWAYS clean and organised and all my animals are toilet trained. I have been to many friends houses who don’t have pets who live like feral animals to the point they don’t hygenically maintain the upkeep of their home.

  • APropertyOwner

    As both a renter and a real estate investor, I have as well as allow dogs into my property, but not smaller breeds, and not cats (out of bad experience).

    Being a volunteer dog trainer as well as foster carer for dogs, I see a lot of different breeds.

    Inside a property:
    A cat will do more damage than a dog. Cat’s scratch at flyscreens, at architraves, pick or scratch at fittings, damage window sills, etc etc. Dogs on the other hand might knock over the odd item, but very rarely will chew on parts of the house (unless the owner carelessly leaves them inside during the day unattended).

    Outside a property:
    A cat will do a little less damage than a dog (with conditions). Cat’s will still scratch at (and damage) flyscreens, and have a tendancy to pull and tear at fittings out of boredom. In addition to causing damage not just to your property, but surrounding owners properties if not kept inside. Dogs on the other hand might dig if not mentally stimulated (smaller more than larger breeds), and attempt to escape (again smaller rather than larger breeds). Most mid to large breed dogs, if not working dogs, are perfectly happy in a reasonable yard size.

    Regarding Dog Size:
    A large dog is FAR better than a smaller dog in a rental situation. They don’t dig under fences, they don’t create 400 holes in the backyard out of boredom, and they are much more likely to just relax and enjoy the backyard than destroy it. In addition most large breeds are not big barkers or yappers, and actually many require less exercise than expected due to a lower metabolism. This is why Great Danes actually make REALLY good apartment dogs (despite their size!). Smaller breeds will yap at anything mainly due to “little man syndrome”, and are generally “on the go” all the time, meaning there is a lot of energy to burn off. Smaller breeds also have a far bigger tendency to get bored and therefore bark out of sheer boredom.

    What your article SHOULD state is that working dogs (Kelpies, Border Collies, etc) and high energy dogs (Boxers, etc), will do damage either out of boredom or growing stir crazy in a small yard.

    Age has little relevance to a dog and a property. A well trained dog at any age is better than an older dog that has never been obedience trained.

    Finally, as an owner, IF the tenant is good and has a dog, generally you’ll find you have yourself a good long term tenant. With less properties allowing pets, a tenant who finds a property who allows their pet, and they look after both the property and the pet, is going to be a long term tenant.
    In an era with ever increasing property prices in major cities, it actually is a no brainer. If you have good tenants, with a good pet, happy to pay the rent you are asking, you’ve got a secure and stable investment property income right there. If your tenant is an animal and doesn’t care about the property, pet or not, you’ll have issues and want them removed.

  • kim

    I was a property manager for many years and in my experience pets are not a problem if you have good tenants. Most properties can accommodate a pet of some sort and some stipulations may need to apply such as a small dog only – if the gardens are very small or no dogs but a cat only if the fences aren’t adequate etc.
    Tenants are responsible for all damages that pets do and the key to rectifying any damage is to act quickly.
    A good tenant will usually report whats happened and rectify a pet’s damage straight away, otherwise you can always pick it up on a routine inspection and make an agreement with the tenant on what needs to be done and when, with an agreed time to follow up, instead of waiting until its time to vacate and potentially accumulating more pet damage in the process – as the tenant may think your not too worried about it if its not noted and attended to at the time of inspection.
    A tenant can sign an agreement stating that their dog will be strictly outside but expect realistically that it won’t remain that way, so if there is concern about polished floors or dogs being inside in general then its best (for peace of mind) to say no to dogs.
    A responsible tenant will control and train their animals – no matter what they have, so my advice if considering a pet would be to thoroughly process your potential tenant’s application form and make a decision based on the type of person applying and not their pet. As a landlord considering an application you are also entitled to ask for detailed descriptions of the pet and photos to help with your decision.
    I have had fantastic tenants who have owned cats, dogs, birds – even snakes and reptiles!! And I’ve also had terrible tenants with no pets. It really is about the people renting your property, more than it is about the pet.

  • michaelgilber1

    Thanks for your fantastic points Kim. It’s all about the tenants not the actual pets themselves!

  • michaelgilber1

    Thanks for you comments. Great detail as to the specific breeds, that’s really handy for everyone to know thank you.

  • michaelgilber1

    Thanks Renee. It’s all comes down to the tenant themselves not the actual pets.

  • Sandy

    As a pet owner, a tenant and owner, I am so thrilled to see ‘Pets Considered’ in any advertisement. It makes me think that the owner is both flexible and pragmatic and as a tenant, makes me feel welcome.