What to do if your tenant wants a pet?

“In my day, we didn’t have dogs or cats. All I had was Silver Beauty, my beloved paper clip.”

– Jennifer Hart

I received a call last week from a fellow investor/friend. She had a tenant living in a house and the tenant said he would like his girlfriend and her dog to move in with him.

My friend knew that her tenant was on the verge of having some trouble making the monthly payments and it seemed like a good idea financially to have the girlfriend there too, two incomes being better than one. Of course, the girlfriend would sign the rental contract too, in case one of them moves out.

What stuck in the craw of my friend is that she recently put new carpet in the house, and did not want pets in there who might destroy the carpet. Her question to me was, should she allow the dog?

My answer was, let the dog stay too, but charge a fee of $20 per pet per month, and here’s why:

1. Not all rental properties allow pets, so the more accomodating you are in the area of pets, the more tenants that you can attract. And, many people experience a more rewarding life when they have a pet. So, the happier the tenant, the longer he stays.

2. The tenant is receiving a benefit from having their pet with them, and as mentioned, not all rentals allow pets. So, from that perspective, the tenant has not reason to be upset with a small monthly fee for the pet.

3. If the pet does a number 1 or number 2 on the carpet, the landlord still has the security deposit of one month’s rent, to repair the carpet. When the tenants move out the landlord is still covered.

Under my scenario, the tenants receive the benefit of the girlfriend moving in and the psychological benefit of having a pet. The landlord receives a slight benefit of a small additional amount coming in. Everyone is happy.

The only other consideration is to make sure the dog is not Cujo. I would’t allow a dog breed that is known to be aggressive. Otherwise the landlord is setting herself up to be bit with liability issues, if the dog gets out of the yard.

For another excellent article about pets, check out the article Allowing Pets in Your Rental Property by Sharon Vornholtt at http://LouisvilleGalsRealEstateBlog.com.

Read the new review of “Carve Out Your Niche” by Sharon Vornholt at Louville Gals Real Estate Blog

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4 Responses to “What to do if your tenant wants a pet?”

  1. Chuck says:

    Terry,

    One thing I started doing is to charge a pet FEE at move-in of $500. Note this is a pet fee not a pet deposit. I explain this to them in detail and have them sign a receipt that says such. I also have on that receipt and in my lease that pit bulls are not allowed.

    This also allows me to charge slightly less than a full months rent as a deposit and makes the move-in more attractive and affordable for the non-pet owners. I have collected 2 pet fees so far and the tenants did not complain.

    I would tend to agree with you that it makes sense pet owners might stay longer, but I have not been at this long enough to know for sure. Based on your experience what have you noticed?

    Thanks,
    Chuck

  2. admin says:

    I like your idea of charging $500 at move in. Has anyone ever balked at that?

    Most of my tenants have pets, but I don’t have any data supporting the idea that they stay longer if they can have pets. It just intuitively makes sense to me.

  3. […] We originally purchased it for $53,000 and we charge $750/month (more if the tenants have pets). […]

  4. […] 6.) Allow pets. Many people consider their pet a member of their family, and in some cases, make their decision on which home to rent based on the likely comfort of their pet. […]

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