4 Risks of Renting to Pet Owners

Although it’s common to see apartment listings with a “No Pets!” disclaimer, 72 percent of renters have one. For dog and cat owners, such restrictions can limit available living options. 

Yet for landlords and property owners, accommodating pets can be a complicated decision. You may rent a unit to someone who routinely cleans up after their animal or has a pet that causes cause significant damage. Anticipate the following potential risks.

1. Property Damage

Different pets can cause varying degrees of property damage, from scratching and chewing to staining. Based on the results of an Avail.co survey involving 40,000 landlords, over 60 percent experienced pet-related damage on their properties.

From each individual unit to the entire building and its surrounding premises, common forms of pet-related damage requiring repairs or extensive cleaning include:

  • Scratch and chew marks on wood and plastic surfaces
  • Strong, foul odors
  • Damaged landscaping
  • Chewed cables and wires

If you’ll be renting to pet owners, consider building materials and how you design outdoor spaces. Rather than carpet or wood, choose linoleum or vinyl and create a separate, closed-off spot for pets outside.

2. Disturbing Neighbors

Certain pets can become a nuisance for other tenants through noise, allergic reactions to dander or biting. Based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), dogs are responsible for 4.7 million bite injuries per year.

To anticipate these risks, consider:

  • Making sure your insurance coverage extends to pets on your property.
  • Ensuring tenants have adequate renters insurance coverage.
  • Asking tenants about their pets, including how frequently they make noise.
  • Contacting the tenant’s past landlords to ask about issues with their pets.
  • Informing all prospective tenants that some residents own a cat or dog, so they can make an informed decision regarding their allergies.
  • Cleaning all HVAC ducts and common areas to prevent the spread of dander and hair.
  • Establishing rules to control and manage pets, such as leash rules and cleaning up after your animals.  

3. Breed Restrictions

Depending on where you live, communities and insurance companies can restrict particular dog breeds. Commonly excluded breeds include pit bulls, rottweilers, Doberman pinschers, German shepherds, huskies and wolf hybrids.

Certain areas and insurance companies may also exclude or not extend coverage to exotic animals, including primates, reptiles and other large pets, based on size and weight. 

Considering these factors, it’s important to research the town or community’s restrictions and double-check your insurance policy. Once you understand the potential restrictions in greater detail, you can proceed to screen tenants.

4. Creating a Rental Agreement

If you plan on renting to pet owners, draft a rental agreement to help clear up any gray areas. Establish the conditions that tenants have to abide by to continue living in their unit.

Points to touch upon may include:

  • Your tenant’s responsibility for their animal in relation to cleanliness, behavior, injuries and damage.
  • If you require a pet deposit and what the amount will be.
  • Types of pets allowed, by animal, breed or size and the number permitted per unit.

This agreement applies only to pets, not to service, assistance or support animals, which the law and insurance companies often exclude from restrictions. Refusing to rent to tenants with a service animal or imposing heavy restrictions violates Fair Housing laws.

As a landlord, make sure to carry sufficient insurance coverage that does not specifically exclude pets from your grounds. To review or update your policy, contact us today.