The Pros and Cons of Renting to a Resident with Pets

If you've managed a property long enough, you've surely been asked whether you allow pets, and may have considered accepting pets during times when you've had trouble filling a vacancy, but ultimately came to your senses and declined. A recent FIREPAW (Foundation for Interdisciplinary Research and Education Promoting Animal Welfare) survey found property managers who rent to residents with pets make $3,000 more per unit per year, and that stat may just sweeten the catnip for you. Learn more about the pros and cons of renting to pets and their people, then get practical tips for ensuring that a furry renter doesn't destroy your unit.

Pros of Renting to Pet Owners
Several of the benefits of renting to pet owners include:

  • Higher rental costs - Pet owners often have a harder time finding apartments than pet-free people. If you allow pets, you may be able to charge $200 to $300 more per month for the same apartment than if you would by restricting pets.
  • Bigger pool of residents and faster turnaround of vacant units - When you allow pets, you widen the pool of potential residents. You can afford to be choosier about who gets to rent your apartment, and may have an easier time filling a unit than you would by restricting pets. Happy pet owners will spread the word about the great deal they found, which will potentially drive more residents to your properties.
  • Pets can help promote community - Owners run into one another walking dogs and become friends due to mutual interests. When your property has community, it becomes a more desirable place to be. Communal spirit can also help keep property crimes down.

Cons of Renting to Pet Owners
Owners wary of renting to pets may have horror stories about drains clogged from kitty litter or residents screaming over the phone about a neighbor's barking dog. The downsides of allowing a resident with a pet include:

  • Property destruction that goes unnoticed until a resident moves out - Cats and dogs alike may scratch screens, wood or furniture, and even an otherwise responsible resident may not tell you about the damage until moving day. If you need to do emergency repairs when turning around a unit, the NAA Buyers Guide can help you search for contractors with availability. It's worth keeping in mind that children do more damage than pets on average, according MSN Real Estate.
  • They may pull the old bait and switch - Duplicitous residents may show you a Chihuahua, then move in a St. Bernard after you've agreed to the lease. Or a one-dog-only resident may adopt two more during their lease, taking advantage of your good nature. If you enforce size or breed restrictions on pets, you may find residents lying to you to obtain an apartment.

Minimizing Your Risk
If you decide to rent to pet owners, minimize your risk by collecting a security deposit high enough to cover your costs of repair, holding it in the manner legally dictated by your state and rigorously inventorying the apartment before the pet owner moves in. You may opt to collect a separate pet deposit that covers pet damage. Keep in mind you'll need to screen the resident more than the pet, as people — pet-free and pet owners alike — can cause all types of property damage.

Norma Martin has served as a property manager for many years and considers herself an expert in the field. She enjoys reading murder mysteries and scuba diving.