If you’re new to the income property game, you might have some questions about renting to people with pets. Because fewer people are willing to do it, there is extra income to be made when you offer your property to renters with four-legged friends. Many pet owners (Jason Hartman, for instance) are responsible, clean, and willing to pay more to accommodate their nonhuman friends.
Still, there are some things you should know that will help you protect yourself from damage. You’ll want to draft a pet agreement that thoroughly outlines the terms and conditions of pet ownership in the lease. You’ll also want to make sure each person on the lease signs the pet agreement—even if they’re just a roommate.
Types of Pets
You’ll first want to establish what types of pets you’re willing to allow. Small animals? Large animals? Dogs? Cats? But you’ll want to go into even more detail. Certain dog breeds (those considered “dangerous”) can increase insurance premiums, so you may wish to make some rules against them—which is totally legal and your right as a property owner. You may want to establish weight limits for pets also.
You should also establish that the pets on your property should only be those that belong to your tenants. Pet sitting is great, but it shouldn’t take place on your property. Maintain control by allowing only those pets you’ve approved. Which leads us to…
While a tiny goldfish in a small bowl hardly requires approval, larger pets might. Maybe you want to meet the pet before you allow it to live in your property, or maybe you just want the potential tenant to answer a few questions. Knowing how long the tenant has owned the pet, the history of pet damage, or the reproductive status of the pet tells you a lot—about pet and owner.
Make sure that your pet agreement establishes that the pet’s presence in your property is contingent upon compliance with the agreement. This way, you have the right require the pet be removed if the pet or owner fail to meet requirements.
These requirements might include pet identification including collars, tags or chips, proper pet licenses, updated vaccinations, spaying or neutering, etc. Ask tenants to provide proof of compliance.
Make sure your pet agreement establishes that tenants are responsible for their pets. This includes cleaning up pet messes inside and outside of the property, repairing or paying for damage, pet supervision, pet actions against other people, etc.
Consider charging pet rent or a pet fee in addition to the regular security deposit. Even the best pets cause more wear and tear on an apartment, so pet owners should expect to pay more. Make the fee reasonable.
Finally, make your pet agreement a fluid document. Include a passage that indicates that you’ve got the right to change the rules (within reason) by giving tenants a 30 day notice. You’ll have some freedom and flexibility should you find that particular pets cause particular problems—this way, you’re covered. Keep in mind that you may have to grandfather in existing pets. (photo credit: WilliamMarlow via photopin cc)
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