Whether or not to allow pets in your property is one of the more significant decisions you’ll have to make as a landlord. There are a number of advantages to doing so, but there are quite a few risks to consider as well. As with many situations of this nature, the determining factor will be whether the risk outweighs the potential for reward.


Let’s examine some of the pros and cons of allowing pets in your property.


On the plus side, you immediately expand your pool of potential tenants when you decide to admit pets. According to a recent Harris Poll Survey, three in five Americans have a pet of some sort. With more choice comes the capability for you to be more selective. This means you will likely wind up with better quality tenants overall. What’s more, pet owners will spread the word about this wonderful building they found in which pets are welcomed. Ultimately, this will add up to fewer vacancies—with shorter intervals between them.

 


Eliminate vacancies even more with these tips on “Mastering the Turnover Process”


 

Making your property pet-friendly also means you can justify higher rents. It’s a classic case of supply and demand. If you’re one of the few landlords in your area permitting pets (limited supply), you can charge a slight premium because you’ll have more demand than property owners who do not. You can also cite the potential hazards of allowing pets as justification for the higher rents. Pet owners are used to this and generally accept it as part of enjoying their furry companions.


Pet owners also have a tendency to stay put longer when they find a nice place to live that’s welcoming to their pet. Supply and demand plays a role here as well. Since many places won’t permit pets, it’s a bit more difficult to pull up stakes and migrate. After all, they have to go out and find another pet-friendly place with the attributes they prefer before they can move. This can be a challenging task, so when they find such a place, they tend to stay in it longer.


Neighbors with pets have a tendency to be friendlier toward one another because they can bond over pet ownership, Conversations ensue when they bump into one another as they’re out walking the dog. This creates a sense of community, which leads them to watch out for one another. Engaged residents make for a safer building, which in turn minimizes your potential headaches. Pet owners are usually more conscientious too. After all, they’ve taken on the responsibility of keeping their pet alive. If they’re taking good care of a pet, they’ll more than likely do the same for their home—and your investment.


On the other side of the coin, puppies and kitties have to be taught to relieve themselves in particular places. Your flooring will be looked upon as fair game until they learn where “to go.” This could lead to damage and odors. Younger animals also tend to scratch doors and floors, as well as chew up carpets. This too, makes damage to the property a concern.


Making your building pet-friendly could render it unfriendly to non-pet owners. Properties with animals can be a menagerie of squawks, barks, yelps and yowls. Tenants residing on lower floors may find themselves treated to the thundering of running paws above their heads, while allergy-prone tenants could find animal dander in the air unbearable. These people could be driven to seek another place to live after experiencing too many disruptive pet encounters.


According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some 4.5 million people suffer dog bites annually. Of those 4.5 million, approximately 800,000 will require some medical attention post encounter. The good news (for you) is the pet’s owner is typically held liable in these cases. However, if it can be proven you were aware the animal in question had a history of biting people and did nothing about it, or the dog was in your possession when the incident occurred, you could also be named as a defendant in resulting legal actions.


Should you decide to make your building pet-friendly, be sure the deposit you require is sufficient and your lease/rental agreement outlines the pet owner’s responsibilities, as well as the remedies you will enforce in the event any of the above becomes an issue. Here you must be careful though, as some states do not permit levying pet fees.


Landlords: stay up to date on the latest state rental laws here.