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Landlord Pet Policies: What You Should Know

Updated: Jan 7, 2023

Pets in a House

Several landlords can allow their tenants to keep pets in their rental property. They do this because they either:

  1. Love pets

  2. May be able to attract a bigger pool of tenants

  3. Want to have a reduced tenant turnover (since many landlords may not agree to keep pets)

However, if you’re a landlord allowing tenants to keep pets, there are a few risks you may have to deal with if you’re going down this road. There may be some property damage, pet-induced injuries, or other threats you may not be aware of.

To ensure you curb the threats and enjoy the positive side of this decision, here are some landlord pet policies you need to know.

● Consider Including a “Pet Agreement” In Your Lease

One way of reducing pet-related risks on your property is by getting your tenant to sign a pet agreement part of your lease. This lets your tenants know that their tenancy depends on following these rules. Even tenants that don’t have a pet should sign this lease since you never know when they’ll change their minds. Here are some clauses you can include:

a. The Types of Pets Allowed

It won’t exactly be a pretty sight if you woke up one day and saw a baby tiger roaming on your front lawn. Some landlords allow only domesticated animals like cats, rabbits, gerbils, small reptiles, hamsters, dogs, fish, and guinea pigs. It’s also essential for the agreement to specify the number of pets allowed. While almost everyone loves dogs, there are some dangerous breeds people would not prefer in their neighborhood.

Some landlords may also ban certain kinds of dogs since some breeds can tend to violence like Rottweilers or Pit bulls. Even though this particular discussion is drenched in controversy, it’s your legal right to ban whichever animal you want to from your property.

b. Only Allowing Pets You Approve Of

You can also get tenants to get your approval for any animal they want to keep in their apartment. According to this Chicago property management company, you can make exceptionsa nd ignore this requirement for certain kinds of animals you don’t think will cause problems, like goldfish or hamsters. However, before you approve a pet, remember to ask a few questions, such as:

  • How long have you had the pet?

  • Who’s going to look after the pet if you’re away?

  • Where will you get the pet from? (if the tenant doesn’t have the pet yet)

  • Has the pet caused any damage in the past?

  • Do they have a certain disease?

● Charging a Pet Fee

Several landlords may also impose a “pet fee” apart from the usual security deposit. The reason is that pets may cause additional wear and tear to the apartment. That said, before you apply this policy in your rental agreement, there are some things you should consider:

● A fee like this may not be legal. In a state like California, a landlord can’t charge more than a certain amount as a deposit. This sum covers all kinds of deposits. If the total amount of the deposit you’re charging has already reached the maximum amount, you won’t be able to charge an additional pet deposit.

● It’s also possible to charge an unreasonably high fee. If you are charging a specific deposit for a pet, stick to a reasonable amount, e.g. $200 or $300. If your tenant decides to challenge this amount, you may not enforce the amount you’re charging.

● In some cases, a fee may not be a good decision. Setting aside a specific amount to cover pet-related damages may not always be the best idea. A pet may be well-behaved but have a lazy owner in some cases. If you’ve only allotted a deposit for pet damage, you won’t be able to use the deposit to fix the owner’s mistakes.

Wrapping Up

From time to time, you may want to change this policy. It’s possible you may not want to allow cats anymore, and this change will only be possible if you keep your pet policy amendable.

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