It’s estimated that about 85 million United States households own some type of pet, about two-thirds of all households. It’s also estimated that about one-third of all U.S. households are renters. Logic follows, then, that these two categories likely significantly intersect. Plenty of renters are also pet owners.
The cross-section of pet owners and renters can put owners of rental properties between a rock and a hard place: Do you want to shrink your pool of potential renters by forbidding pets in your rental units, or do you want to take on the potential risk that allowing pets might bring? When deciding whether you should rent property to pet owners, there’s a lot to know.
Know the Rules
Pet owners are not a protected class per the Fair Housing Act. It’s unlawful to refuse to rent to protected groups, but it is a rental property owner’s right to exclude pets from a property.
That said, there are often localized rules and regulations regarding pets. A condo association, for example, might have its own guidelines. A municipality might have ordinances regarding certain types of pets, especially regarding certain breeds of dogs. Suppose you own a property in San Jose or the South Bay Area. In that case, the services of a South Bay property management company would provide additional guidance and recommendations on managing your property – including abiding by the local rules.
No matter how willing you are to allow pets on your property, various municipalities and condo and homeowner associations could have a greater say. As a property owner, you don’t want to fall outside of these groups’ guidelines.
Know the Risks
If you’re the owner of a rental property, there are basically two categories of risk regarding permitting pets on the premises: risk of damage to the property itself and increased risk of liability.
Not all pets cause damage, and not all pets increase liability. It’s up to the individual property owner to assess their risk tolerance regarding both.
Dogs chew things. Pet urine can damage all sorts of surfaces in a property, including some that can require extensive mitigation to remedy. Certain dog breeds are considered aggressive, so to limit liability, most property owners will prohibit tenants from having these. Even allowing seemingly innocuous pets like fish can add risk. What happens if your tenant’s 50-gallon aquarium breaks?
Fortunately, insurance companies are in the business of assessing risk. That’s what they do for a living. If you have any questions about risk level, a good start would be to look through your insurance policy and contact your insurance agent. Your insurer might provide exclusions for certain types of pet-specific damages or liability, which might answer your questions.
Know the Numbers
The owner of a rental property wants it to be profitable. And the question of permitting pets is often tied to a property’s profitability. Advertising a property as “pet-friendly” might increase the demand for your property, but doing so might also increase your repair and insurance costs. The question becomes: Is the added marketability of the property worth the extra damage and liability cost exposure?
If an owner allows tenants to have pets at their rental property, a property management company will include a pet addendum to an applicable lease. A pet addendum provides parameters for housing a pet on the property and is typically accompanied by an extra fee to the tenant. If you’re the property owner, it’s simply a matter of calculating whether the extra money collected each month would cover the potential additional damage or wear and tear and any additional insurance premiums that might be incurred.
If the extra money provided by the pet addendum covers your expected costs associated with damage and insurance liability, you might be more inclined to allow pets.
Use the Services of an Experienced Property Management Company
If you own a rental property, use the services of a property management company that provides expert guidance to owners on managing their property. Valley Management Group is a South Bay property management company with over 40 years of experience managing properties in Santa Clara County and has many good reviews from owners and tenants.