Should I allow pets in my rental property?

As an experienced professional rental property manager I’ve had lengthy discussions with a large portion of my clientele about this very topic. There is no one simple answer to the question, but there are some guidelines and a lot of things that should be considered before making the final decision.

The first thing to keep in mind is that if you own a rental property you should fit it with amenities that are relatively durable (ie: waterproof vinyl plank or pvc flooring). While you may prefer other things that are less durable in your own home (like carpet) you may need to remind yourself that you’re not going to be living in this property, and the person who will be living in the home will most likely not treat it as well as you would. Even the best tenants in the world will still have less concern about wear and tear on the home as you would because they don’t own it and will only have a limited consequence for whatever damage they might do.

With that in mind whether or not your home has been optimized for rental status, there is still plenty of good reason to rent to residents with pets:

  • Maximizing your potential market – the larger the market the faster your home will rent, minimizing your biggest expense which is vacancy.
  • Increasing tenant quality – The best tenants are increasingly more likely to have pets, so you may wind up with no animals in favor of more animal like humans.
  • Non refundable pet deposits – need I say more? You are (or should be) in this business to generate a profit after all.
  • They might bring the pets regardless – Many tenants, especially in class B and below properties, have a bad habit of forgetting to mention that they have a pet, or flat out lying about it. We have a certification document where an incoming resident has to certify that they don’t have a pet which has reduced this problem but nothing could ever eliminate it. Once the resident and pet are in the home you’re kind of stuck, because kicking them out will be costly and time consuming, and collecting a pet deposit after the fact will yield poor results. If you accept them on the front end it’s much simpler!
  • Residents stay longer – since it is difficult and expensive to move into a new home with a pet residents tend to stay longer term, again reducing vacancy!

For the majority of the properties we manage we charge a variable pet deposit using a formula that considers the class of property and weight of the pet. All residents must certify in 2 places that their pet has no history of violent behavior (for insurance benefit) and the fee is non refundable. We’ve had tenants pay pet deposits equal to their monthly rent, which really moves the needle on your bottom line! Combine that with the likely reduced vacancy and you’ve got a winning formula.

Pet damage is almost predictable. I have to qualify this one, but generally speaking if someone is responsible in the rest of their life they will be responsible pet owners as well. A good credit history, rental history, and background check will usually indicate a responsible pet owner, and realistically almost all pet damage is the result of bad humans, not bad pets.

Monthly pet rent can REALLY increase your bottom line. In some markets you can charge a $25-60 monthly pet rent PER PET! There is no real cost to you for this so it’s nearly pure profit. Tenants are still responsible for any damage a pet causes.

I’ve been managing rental properties for 14 years. I own almost 100 units personally and allow pets in every single one. I’ve never had pet damage that execeeded the pet deposit in that amount of time. I can say 100% that it’s possible to make a substantial additional profit from allowing pets in your rental properties. I’d highly recommend it!