Hey buddy. Want to rent your units fast? Want to make more money when you do? Two words. "Pets Allowed." There's been a growing trend of renters bringing along their furry friends to new rental units. Like it or not, you will probably wind up with a few animals on your property at one time or another. May as well make the best of it.
Recent statistics show that close to 80% of Americans own cats and/or dogs. And that's not even counting the hedgehogs and house rabbits and who knows what all that have become popular in recent years. In one sense, you don't have a choice. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 dictates that any cat or dog (or micro-pig or monkey) designated as a service animal is permitted to live in rental housing, even if there's a no-pet policy.
What's a Service Animal?
The definition of "service animal" has expanded from the standard seeing-eye dog to pretty much any critter that gives support to its owner, be it physical and/or emotional. And rightly or wrongly, "designated" is a fairly wishy-washy term that can mean a canine with a certificate from Guide Dogs for the Blind or a doctor's note stating their patient cannot cope with life unless their pet boa constrictor is waiting for them when they get home.
Do It Right.
Do "interview" the pet along with their person when evaluating a prospective tenant. See how the animal behaves, not just with their owner but with you. This doesn't apply as much to cats, or for that matter, boa constrictors, as it does to dogs or micro-pigs. If the pet is going to be walked outside and interact with the public, their behavior must be impeccable. Also be sure to find out who will care for the pet if the owner is away.
Do write a detailed pet policy into your lease covering any eventuality you can think of. Then think of more and add those in as well. Make sure a lawyer checks it out before putting it into print.
Do charge a refundable pet fee. Make it fairly substantial. This will encourage the tenant to keep their pet under control and out of trouble.
And Everyone (even the boa constrictor) Lives Happily Ever After.
If the above sounds a bit ominous, it really isn't. A pet owner who is willing to pay extra and conform to extra rules is a tenant who is happy and grateful to be living on your property. They typically stay longer and are very careful about how they treat their home. Meanwhile, you'll be managing a property that will remain at full occupancy and profitable. It's a good deal for everyone.