Should you rent to tenants with pets?

Barbra, a tech worker from the Midwest was transferred to Colorado Springs in 2010. She had taken the job with much excitement, but one major concern.

Would she be able to find a landlord who would accept her three elderly cats?

Barbra had owned a home in her former location, but was reluctant to buy a house in the Springs right away.

Pet Ownership in America

According to the American Pet Products Association’s 2017-2018 National Pet Owner Survey, 68% of American households include at least one pet. Dogs are present in the most households, but cats outnumber dogs in total. Cat owners often have more than one cat, which explains the difference.

Pet owners generally see the pet as part of the family and are reluctant to give them up. However, moving and landlords who won’t accept the pets are the top reasons that dogs and cats are surrendered to shelters in the United States.

Should you accept pets?

That leaves you, the landlord, with a decision to make. If so many people have pets then it’s worth giving thought to whether you should accept them into your rental property.

Are there risks? Sure. Pets can cause damage to furnishings and annoy the neighbors. But there are benefits too. Pet-friendly rentals are harder to find and pet owners are likely to stay longer. Pet owners often expect to pay higher rents, as well, increasing the landlord’s income and making it easier to recoup funds needed to repair any damage.

(Note that we are talking about companion animals here, not service or emotional support animals. The Americans with Disabilities Act governs renting to people with these kinds of animals.)

You don’t have to accept just any pet

You can reduce the probability of problems with pets by taking a few specific steps:

  • Ask for documentation. Your pet-owning applicant should be able to provide references and proof of any claims about the pet, such as a dog-training course completion certificate or proof that the animal has been spayed or neutered. Don’t be afraid to ask for these documents.
  • Require a plan for specific problems. Are you afraid kitty will ruin your carpets with litter box problems or Mr. Dog will chew the blinds? Your prospective tenant should have a plan for managing issues before they get out of hand, such as additional training or vet visits at the first sign of problems.
  • Include a Pet Addendum with the lease agreement that clearly documents the rules and specifies exactly which pets are allowed to live on the property.

Good Pet Owners Can Be Great Renters

Are you wondering how things worked out with Barbra and her three cats?

She persuaded the owner of a townhouse to rent to her by providing references and plans as listed above. The pets were well-behaved and, unlike other tenants, Barbra was delighted to discover that field mice sometimes made their way into the townhouses. The mice kept the cats entertained and the cats controlled the mouse population for that half of the building as long as they lived there.

You may not need mouse-control, but owning a pet-friendly rental may have benefits for you. We at Blue Mountain Real Estate are happy to discuss the pros and cons. Contact us today!