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    Turning your units into pet-friendly homes can be attractive to a large number of individuals in the market. The Zillow Consumer Housing Trends Report 2021 found that 38% of rental households had at least one dog, 29% owned at least one cat, and 13% possessed another type of pet. Yet, 72% of residents note that pet-friendly homes are difficult to come across.



    Advantages of “Pets Welcome” Policies 


    Apart from being a compelling marketing proposition, allowing pets in your rentals can also reap many other benefits for your business. Here are some of the advantages:


    Increase Your Selection of Prospective Renters

    According to the Pet-Inclusive Housing Report, 42.6% of Gen Z and Millenials are pet owners. If more than half of the individuals below 35 years old are renters, this suggests that a sizeable portion of prospective renters are also looking for pet-friendly rental homes.

    Pie chart showing pet owners by age

    If you currently have vacant units, making them pet-friendly might do the trick. In fact, 79% of property owners reported that pet-friendly vacancies are easier to fill.


    Boost Lease Renewals

    It can be difficult for renters to find a place to settle into with their furry pals since there are property owners who have reservations about allowing pets to stay at their rentals. According to Zillow, renters with pets fill out 1.6 times as many rental applications as those without pets. 

    For this reason, renting to pet owners may help you reduce the turnover rate of your units. According to The Foundation for Interdisciplinary Research and Education Promoting Animal Welfare (FIREPAW), renters with pets stayed for an average of 46 months. Since there are only a limited number of pet-friendly rentals available, these renters will be more inclined to stay longer because of how tedious it is to move to another location with a pet in tow.


    Charge Higher Rent

    Being flexible about the inclusion of pets in your properties may generate positive effects on your bottom line. Since not all rental homes welcome pets, prospective renters will be willing to pay a reasonably higher rent price. A FIREPAW study found that owners managing pet-friendly rental housing were able to charge 20%-30% higher than the average rent price. 



    Risks to Consider


    Before making things final, it’s important to be informed about the possible hazards attached to pets. Here are some of the risks in allowing your renters to bring their furry companions:



    Property Damage

    Animals, especially dogs and cats, are notorious for their scratching and biting behaviors. If you authorize their stay in your units, you’re running the risk of having torn-up curtains, carpets, and even furniture. Fleas can also sneak into the crevices of your units and cause serious health problems if not treated accordingly.


    Renter Complaints

    Not all of your residents will be keen on having pets around the property, especially if you’re handling multi-unit complexes with shared spaces. Some of them might be allergic to pet fur or dander or disturbed by the incessant barking or meowing. 



    Animal Liability

    According to landlord-tenant laws, you’re responsible for any accident or damage that any of your renters acquire while they’re on your property. A dog or cat may show aggression towards other renters on the property, which may put their safety at risk.



    Putting the Necessary Measures in Place


    Anticipating the potential drawbacks of having renters with pets offers insight into how you can make rentals pet-friendly while protecting your units. To do this, make sure to implement the following rules:



    Screen Pet Owners Thoroughly

    A comprehensive screening process can be a good tool to determine whether or not an applicant will be a good resident. Inquire on how they take care and handle their pets to enable you to spot the creases in pet management by the prospective renter.

    The following are some questions you ought to ask a prospective renter during your screening process:


    1. How many pets do you own or plan to bring with you?

    The number of animals you will allow on your property should depend on the size of the unit. 


    2. What type of animal are you currently looking after?

    Traditional pets include dogs and cats, but some renters may be planning to house exotic ones like amphibians, birds, or arachnids. 


    3. How long have you had your pet?

    Determining how long an applicant has been taking care of their pet can tell you how experienced they are at handling them.


    4. Is your pet trained and up to date on their vaccinations?

    If the prospective resident plans to bring their cat with them, make sure to ask if they have been properly litter-trained. Responsible pet owners should also know the necessary vaccinations that a dog and cat need to remain healthy.



    5. Has your pet ever been hostile towards humans or other pets?

    Having an aggressive pet on your property may be dangerous for other renters or animals, especially in multi-unit complexes. 

    During your screening process, it can also be helpful to meet in person prospective renters together with their pets. Make sure to take the time to observe the pets’ demeanor and temperament toward strangers.



    Strengthen the Lease with a Pet Addendum

    Pet addendums or pet policies, consist of additional guidelines that you can put into your existing lease agreement. These rules are designed to protect your property and hold pet owner renters accountable for any damages that your unit incurs during their stay. It’s important to provide a copy of this pet policy to all of your renters, including those who currently do not own any pets. Doing so ensures that they’ll already be aware of the separate rules they have to observe or comply with should they decide to get a pet in the future.

    When creating your pet policy, be sure to outline pertinent details such as how many pets are allowed per renter, any penalties for property damages, and documents that they need to provide that concern their pets. Organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) provide a template for pet addendums that you can adapt and customize according to your preferences.


    Enforce Pet Deposits or Pet Rent

    Charging additional fees to renters with pets can help you prepare for any wear-and-tear that your property may suffer. There are two ways you can go about this.

    First, you may opt to charge a pet deposit at the beginning of your renter’s lease. A pet deposit is a refundable fee that you can collect at the beginning of the lease to help cover the costs of any damages that the animal may cause. This can also help encourage residents to prevent any damages so that they obtain the full amount of the deposit once they move out. This fee is similar to the traditional security deposit that each resident pays before they move in and usually costs the same as one month of rent.

    Alternatively, you can also collect pet rent every month. This fee may be easier for some renters because it consists of smaller payments spaced out through the entire lease. There are also minor damages, such as muddy carpets or scratch marks, that a deposit won’t cover but a pet rent will. 

    When deciding on a price for a pet deposit or pet rent, make sure to keep things within a reasonable price range. According to Zillow, pet deposits can go for around $200 to $500 while you can charge up to $100 monthly for pet rent. Tech-enabled property managers such as Poplar Homes can help you set a competitive rental price among other pet-friendly properties using our free rent estimate.



    Bottom Line


    Allowing pet-keeping residents to occupy your units can be one strategic way to acquire more renters and justify a higher rent price. But, if you do not take precautions to protect your property, this feature may cause more harm than good. Given the risks of having pets in your rentals, it’s essential to adopt a comprehensive screening process, reinforce the lease with a pet policy, and collect pet fees or deposits that can encourage residents to be mindful of the animals they take with them. 




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