One of the first questions a prospective tenant asks is, “Are pets allowed”? A whopping 75% of people looking for rentals own pets! Pets can be a home owner’s nightmare. Visions of damaged floors, destroyed lawns and neighbors complaining are just some of the worries! But does a home owner want to limit his pool from which to choose tenants?

From my experience, some people are willing to walk away from the “perfect” rental to lease one that isn’t the best choice but that does allow pets. Their pets are part of the family and this is serious stuff! Some owners will negotiate on their pet policy. For example, they will only accept pets under 25 lbs or only dogs but no cats. I have seen tenants agree to the “under 25 lb” rule but 3 months later, upon seeing the Great Dane, you wonder how they ever thought someone wouldn’t notice! Or the time when I visited a townhome whose policy was strictly no pets and find 3 cats inside the home. When asked about the cats, the tenant replied that she was just cat sitting for her friend. I don’t know….they looked pretty “at home” with their cat paraphernalia and looking like I was intruding in on their domain!

The fact is, home owners are loosing out on a larger group of tenants if they don’t allow pets. One of the pros to allowing pets is that pet owners typically earn more income than non-pet owners according to Practical Apartment Management, by Edward N Kelly, 65% of pet owners earn over $50,000 a year. Hopefully this will go toward paying their rent and paying it on time! People that care for their pets will hopefully treat your  property with the same respect…although that is sometimes wishful thinking!!  Also, pet owners typically stay in a rental longer because it can be harder for them to find other pet friendly options.

Home owners can provide rules and restrictions in the lease that can offset some “pet” issues. What are they? Charge a non-refundable pet fee…per pet. This will allow the home owner to cover any damage expenses. Restrict the size, weight or breed of dog. Most leases restrict aggressive breeds like Pit Bulls. Owners or their property managers can inspect the home periodically if there are pets in the home. Remember though, if the pet is a service dog for a disabled person, you have to adhere to the Fair Housing Law for the Disabled and allow the pet or else you will be in violation.

I say “Welcome Home Fido”!