At a recent real estate event, one of the panelists (a real estate developer) said, “When I was in my 30s, everyone was getting married and having babies! Today, Millennials are getting pets!”
Some landlords and property managers give pause before renting an apartment to someone with pets. Some consider pets to be a liability, and in some circumstances, that can be true. However, there can also be benefits to offering pet-friendly housing.
Here are eleven things to consider when offering pet-friendly units.
1. Pet-friendly apartments can help you attract more prospects. Many of the new buildings coming online are designed with animal owners in mind. They offer dog wash stations, enclosed dog parks, and even doggy daycare. You don’t have to go to such extreme lengths at your property—just allowing pets on site will draw a larger pool of prospects.
2. Some animal lovers are willing to pay more for pet-friendly properties. There’s no doubt that animals cause additional wear and tear on units. You can account for that by charging animal owners a slight premium (e.g., $50 more per month). In markets where pet-friendly properties are hard to come by, many pet owners would gladly pay the premium to keep Fido by their side.
3. People with pets might be inclined to stay longer. Because pet-friendly units are often hard to come by, people with pets might think twice before moving. Others may hold off on moving if they feel doing so would disrupt their pet’s routine. Using the analogy from above: parents don’t like to uproot their children, and many people today treat their pets like children! Lower turnover = less time spent marketing units, more consistent cash flow, and an overall higher return on your investment.
4. Animal owners are often more stable tenants. Taking care of an animal is no easy task! It requires a person to be at least marginally responsible. If they’re capable enough to take care of their pets, they’ll probably be competent enough to care for your unit, pay rent on time, etcetera.
5. Check with your insurance company before allowing pets. Some insurance policies expressly prohibit animals (or animals over a specific size) from living on the property. If you decide you do want to allow pets, you’ll want to be sure to adjust your insurance policy accordingly. Some insurance policies charge more for (or ban) specific breeds of pets, so be sure to look at that, too. Otherwise, if one of the resident’s animals were to cause harm – to someone, to another animal, to the property – you could be on the hook for costly damages.
6. Consider “interviewing” the pet. Just as you screen residents, you can also screen pets. Start by asking a prospective resident about their pet. How long have they had the pet? Where did they get the pet? How old is the pet? Has the pet ever damage to a person or property? Who will care for the pet? Does the pet have proper vaccinations and licenses? This will give you the baseline detail about the pet situation. Then, take it a step further by asking to meet the pet. You can usually get a sense of the animal’s demeanor within the first few minutes. “Interviewing” the pet will help you determine whether that animal will be a good fit at your property.
7. Be sure your lease details your pet policy. Whether you decide to allow pets or not, your lease agreement should be explicit as to your pet policy. Specify if pets are allowed, and if so, the type and number of pets allowed. If certain breeds are banned “e.g., those defined as “dangerous breeds”), say so. You might also include restrictions on the size or weight of pets allowed. Also, don’t forget to include language as to whether visitors are allowed to bring their pets, and if so, under what conditions.
The lease should go on to define the responsibilities of the pet owner. For instance, you might stipulate that all dogs are required to be on a leash when outside the unit. Maybe you ban animals from specific areas – like the pool area or clubhouse.
Finally, you’ll want to outline a procedure if an animal becomes a nuisance. The last thing you want is to lose other great tenants because of a dog that barks at all hours of the night! Include language in your lease that states your warning and/or penalty system in the unfortunate case a pet becomes a problem to others.
8. Security deposits can insulate you from damages caused by pets. Some states allow landlords to charge an additional “pet deposit,” which, on average, ranges from 40 to 80 percent of the monthly rent. Part or all of that deposit may be refundable, depending on your local laws. These deposits can be held to cover any routine or accidental damages caused by someone’s four-legged friend.
9. Consider requiring renters insurance. Your homeowner, landlord, or business insurance policy should cover you for damage caused by pets – but just in case, you can also require tenants to have renter’s insurance. Renter’s insurance won’t cover damage to the premises caused by pets. Instead, it protects the renter in the event an animal bites or otherwise injures someone. If this were to happen,both you and the tenant would likely be named in a lawsuit, and renter’s insurance will ensure the renter has at least some basic coverage for his or her defense.
10. Pet-friendly units can take longer to make rent-ready. Even the best-behaved pets can cause substantial wear and tear on units. As a result, pet-friendly units can take longer to make rent-ready. Animals can also bring smells that can be tough to get out, so if you’re planning to allow pets, build in enough time to make units rent-ready before releasing down the line.
11. Love is a four-legged world. If you have residents with furbabies, then bundle pet waste station servicing into your valet trash services. We make life easy. After all, pets are a part of the family-we love them. We help Multi-family communities can stay current with the trend of providing dog-friendly areas for residents without the added stress of unwanted pet waste.
Apartment owners already have a lot to consider because home is where pets find loving care. Adding pets into the mix can seem like an unnecessary complication. However, in our experience, pets can be an excellent addition to your property if policies are laid out clearly and managed adequately.