One of the questions I ask a client when we acquire a new property to manage is if they want to allow pets. Some are firmly against pets, while others are very open to them. Then there are those that are just not sure and want my opinion. When it comes to making a decision about their properties, I don’t like to give my opinion, so I just state facts to help them decide.
Here are some facts about pets. Did you know that 60% of Americans own some kind of pet? That’s a bunch! Not allowing pets reduces potential tenants to just 40% of the population. How about your insurance? Your insurance premium could go up just because a “dangerous” breed is on your property. There is a huge debate about labeling some dogs dangerous. Part of the argument is, and probably rightfully so, that all dogs could potentially bite. Would you believe some states are considering legislation against discrimination of pets? Here’s something else to consider when deciding if you want to allow pets or not. Does your property have carpet or is it all hardwood/laminate/tile? Think about what a pet could do to a carpet? You could argue that a dog that doesn’t get its nails regularly trimmed can scratch up the hardwood floors. Speaking of scratching, I’ve seen dogs do a lot of damage to doors and trim from being locked in a room and wanting out.
I know I said I don’t give my opinion but there are two things I’m pretty insistent about. First, if the property is an apartment building, I am opposed to allowing dogs. Cats maybe, but not dogs. Barking dogs are too much of a disturbance for others in the apartment complex and not all dog owners are great about picking up after their dogs. You will also have additional problems if the dog gets fleas and they migrate to an adjacent apartment. If the flea problem were in a single family home, it’s the tenant’s problem. If they migrate to an adjacent apartment, then it becomes your problem. Second, if an owner says that they would be OK with an outside dog, I tell them that they may as well say no to pets. There is no way to control or fully monitor whether an outside dog comes in or not.
Another thing to consider when deciding whether or not to allow pets is the additional income you could receive. Every one is different, but our pet policy is to collect a one time non refundable pet fee and increase the monthly rent. We make sure to note in our lease the additional rent is for the pet in case the tenant were to ever lose or get rid of the pet. Note that we call it a “pet fee”, not a deposit. If we call it a deposit, that could be implied as funds to repair any damages caused by the pet. This fee is what we ask our tenants to pay for the privilege of allowing a pet on the property.
Whatever my client’s decision is, we abide by it. If we advertise a property as not allowing pets, we’ll still get calls from potential tenants asking us to reconsider. They say they’d even pay an extra deposit. The answer is still no. We hear a lot about how wonderful and well trained their dog is. The answer is still no. I have never had anybody tell me how bad their dog is. If the client does allow pets, we are up front about additional fees. Pet lovers are thrilled to find a pet friendly property.
Here’s to keeping cash flow positive,