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Pet Friendly Apartments

October 24, 2019

Renters Do Love Their Pets

One estimate is that there are more 80 million homes in the US which have pets of which 87 million are dogs and 62 million are cats.

Whether you like it as a property investor, landlord, or property manager, the era of pets is upon us. With such a strong demand for pet friendly apartments, it could solve some business problems for you.

People Love their Pets

There’s claims that 72% of renters have pets, but that figure is dificult to believe. Whatever the real numbers are, it’s pretty certain there’s a big pool of well-employed pet owners that desperately need a pet-friendly apartment.

Renters love their pets too. Just go on Facebook and you’ll see it quick. According to a Zillow study, 46% of apartment renters list their pets as a requirement. So, is allowing pets such a dangerous possibility for landlords or is it an opportunity to capture motivated tenants, and capture a solid source of revenue?

Lets take a look at the upside and downside of allowing pets in your rental properties and how it might affect property management.

Pets Are Integral Part of People’s Lives

Pet ownership is almost a lifestyle. And more pet loving tenants live alone in apartments. They find having a dog or cat creates some comfort for them.  The desire to have a pet causes some vacancies. There is a demand from renters, and if they are currently not part of your target market, perhaps you should look at the opportunity more closely with a financial angle.

Tenants and pets might help you boost rent revenues by as much as 30% and reduce vacancy losses.

Looking at the situation objectively, pets might not be a money losing proposition. If cash flow, low rent, and renter turnover are making business difficult, perhaps the extra revenue and different kind of tenant is a permanent solution?

Let’s say your rental units flooring is in bad shape. This could be a good excuse not to spend $5,000 to $20,000 to replace it right now.

Plan for a Pet Safe Strategy

But what if you could create a pet-safe, pet friendly environment for your tenants? Would the potential rent increases and tenant loyalty compensate for any physical damage? Time to weigh the pros and cons.

Quite a few landlords are allowing pets and don’t seem to be deterred by damage issues, or complaints from neighboring tenants. You’ll need to contact your insurance provider and the home owners association if it exists.

Risks of Allowing Pets

Because of the potential damage to flooring, carpets and walls, and the issues related to pet smells, hair in ducts, most landlords make their houses, condos and apartments “no pet” zones. That likely describes your belief and position on it.

Realistically, new flooring isn’t cheap and pets need an outdoors area to run and defecate. That could add up to extra costs. And there are issues with pet hair and allergies among neighboring renters.

Noise and physical dangers of some pets creates liability issues and trouble with insurance coverage perhaps. Cover your dog bite liability with knowledge of local and state laws, and ensure your landlord’s insurance has this covered.

Animal restrictions are important. Make it well known what types of pets are allowed and which are prohibited. The presence of exotic snakes, ferrets, and poisonous pets is a big concern for landlords and neighboring renters. Renters should sign a release stating they will not bring those types of critters into your building or rental house.

Flooring and Pets

New flooring. If you’re planning a pet friendly apartment, consider a durable type of flooring that is resistant to moisture, scratches, and odor retention. Carpet won’t work. Vinyl, Linoleum and laminate type floors resist these problems. The flooring installers might have different techniques/materials to help contain pet related accidents and odors that could ruin the floor or subfloor.

Fences and dog pens. Containing cats is very difficult, and neighboring homeowners may launch charges against the cat owner for trespassing. With fences, dogs can be contained and allowed to run and play.

Screening Tenants with Pets

  • Meet the tenant and pet in person to confirm it is acceptable and will behave
  • take a picture of the animal and get the license info
  • get all the details about its breed, vaccination shots required, and then check with previous landlords about possible incidents

Add a Pet Addendum

A pet addendum or pet agreement helps the tenant to understand their obligations. That responsibility includes carefully controlling the pet in consideration of other tenants, collect and dispose of pet litter accordingly, and to be legally responsible for any damage or incidents caused by their pet.

An acceptable level of wear and tear has to be noted.

Re-inspect Your Rental Unit Carefully

Do a thorough inspection of doors, flooring and walls, as well as conditions in communal hallways — where contact with the pet is most likely. The more expensive your flooring and carpets are, the more important it is to check it in detail. Record photos, video, and online inspection checklists with notes, within your property management software.

Collect an extra pet deposit (which is controlled by your local or state laws) as part of your rental security deposit, or in addition to, if you are in a region with first and last month’s rent only.

Pet friendly apartment property management might just come down to ensuring responsible tenant behavior and being covered for damage and law suits. With proper affordable insurance coverage, you’re reducing the downside significantly. Now, it might be a smart move.


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