Allowing pet owners into your Florida rental property can be a tough decision. Property owners typically prefer not having pets on their property because of the fear of flea infestation, damage, and so on. However, imposing a ‘No Pets’ policy may result in longer vacancies.
If you’re wondering if you should open your rental home to pet-owning tenants, here’s everything you need to keep in mind:
Advantages of Allowing Pets in Your Rental Property
#1 Potential to increase rent
Finding a pet-friendly rental isn’t easy. Prospective tenants with pets are more likely to be willing to pay slightly more than the standard rate — as long as your rate isn’t excessive, of course! You will be able to charge a monthly ‘pet fee’ which helps you earn more money.
#2 Wider pool of tenants
By allowing pets into your Florida rental property, you’re expanding your applicant pool to a bigger group of prospective tenants. According to a survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA), 67% of households in the U.S. own a pet — that’s 85 million families!
#3 Reduce vacant periods
Tenants with pets are more likely to renew their lease agreement. This is because they are aware of how difficult it is to find an accommodating landlord. No pet owner wants to go through the trouble of long-distance moving with pets. Once pet owners find their ideal home, chances are, they’ll stick around for a long time.
#4 Attract more responsible tenants
Tenants with pets are usually more responsible than tenants without pets. This is due to the commitments that they have as pet owners. They’ve gotten used to the drill — whether it’s walking, feeding, or taking their pet to the vet, they know what it takes to become a responsible pet parent. This sense of responsibility has been ingrained in them.
Keep in mind, however, that not all pet owners are responsible. It would still be best to screen your prospective tenants with the help of a Florida property manager.
Disadvantages of Allowing Pets in Your Rental Property
#1 Risk of property damage
Pets are known for making a mess. From chewing your sneakers to destroying your couch, pets can damage anything and everything. The chances of pets damaging the property are higher when you’re dealing with stressed animals. While not all pets misbehave, it’s important to note that most pets will stain carpets, have “accidents”, and so on.
#2 Noise complaints from neighbors
Not everyone likes animals. If your property is surrounded by neighbors who are easily annoyed by the sound of barking, howling, meowing, etc., you may find yourself at the receiving end of angry complaints.
#3 Possible aggression
If your tenant owns an aggressive animal, you may be in trouble. This is especially true if your rental unit is within a multi-family property. Hostile pets — usually dogs — can be a danger to other tenants and animals. On top of that, an untrained animal may prevent you from entering the property when you need to do repairs and inspections.
Best Policies for Pet-Owning Tenants
Leasing your property to pet owners carries risks, but they can be mitigated through the following practices:
#1 Conduct a pet screening
Conducting pet screenings is becoming a standard practice among property management companies. A pet screening allows landlords to meet the pet and observe its behavior, as well as how it interacts with other tenants. Essentially, it allows landlords to gauge whether the tenant is responsible enough to live in the property with their pet/s.
#2 Charge an additional ‘pet rent’
A ‘pet rent’ is an additional monthly fee that is charged to the pet owner. Aside from increasing your monthly income, it can be used to cover repairs for pet-related damages to the property. Typically, pet rent costs anywhere between $10 to $60. Be sure to keep your pet rent at a reasonable amount to avoid deterring tenants.
#3 Require licenses, vaccinations, and identification
Ask your property manager if your city has local ordinances that require cats and dogs to be regularly vaccinated. If so, ask your tenant to provide proof of their pet’s vaccination records. Similarly, you may insist that your tenant’s pets undergo behavioral training to ensure the safety of other residents. If your property is in a multi-family unit, it would be ideal to set rules regarding the wearing of identification tags and collars at all times.
#4 Identify the types of animals allowed
Your lease agreement should specify which types of animals are allowed in your rental property. Many landlords allow only domesticated animals (e.g. dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits). Regarding “dangerous” breeds such as Pitbulls and Rottweilers, as the property owner, you are legally allowed to ban certain dog breeds from your rental property.
You should also specify the number of animals that each household is allowed to own. If you fail to include this, you may be surprised to find that your property has been turned into a doggy daycare!
#5 Charge a higher security deposit
Aside from the pet rent, you may also charge a higher security deposit. Keep in mind that when your tenant moves out, you will be dealing with more dirt than usual. Carpets, couches, and more may be covered in pet dander, requiring the services of a professional cleaning company.
#6 Require your tenants to obtain renter’s insurance
Before the tenant moves in, consider holding a brief orientation to remind them of their responsibilities. They should agree to clean up after their pets, not leave them unsupervised, keep them leashed, and so on.
Aside from reminding your tenants of their duties, you may also require them to obtain renter’s insurance. This covers the costs in the event of pet accidents such as dog bites.
No rule states that you should (or shouldn’t) rent out your property to a pet owner. Ultimately, that decision is for you to make. However, do keep in mind that under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), you are required to provide accommodations to tenants with service animals or emotional support animals.
If you’ve decided to allow pets into your rental property, taking care of your real estate investment will be more important than ever. Luxury Property Care can look after your property for you. Contact our property managers today at (561) 944 – 2992 or leave a message through our contact form.