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Pets: Looking at Requirements and Restrictions

July 21st, 2015 garnerproperties

Pet RentalWhen it comes to renting out a home or residential property, one consideration that each landlord or owner needs to make is whether or not to allow prospective tenants to keep pets. This is a decision that varies from person to person, and even depending on the condition of the rental property. For example, if you just recarpeted an entire rental home, you may not want to allow pets that may scratch or tear the new surfaces, or potentially cause waste stains or extensive shedding issues.

If you do decide to allow pets, you should be sure to establish a clear-cut policy that describes exactly the responsibilities of your tenant when it comes to having a pet. With many factors to consider, here’s a look at a few of the things to keep in mind while planning your pet policies.

Refundable Security Deposit or Pet Fee

The most common practice with renting to pet owners is requiring a security deposit to be dedicated for any pet-related cleaning, repairs or maintenance that may be necessary at the end of the tenancy. In both Indiana and Michigan, there are no restrictions on pet deposits, so landlords can require either a refundable deposit or a nonrefundable deposit, sometimes called a pet fee. The fee should be determined by considering your property and the potential damages that a pet might cause, like stains or scratches that the deposit or fee would be used to remedy at the end of a lease. At Garner Properties & Management, we can also help assess your property and set a deposit amount that is competitive and fair among peer rentals in the area.

Dog in Rental ApartmentRental Fees

Another option that some owners use is an ongoing rental increase for tenants with pets. Whether used alone or in conjunction with a security deposit, rental increases are usually for small amounts that are added on to the base rental amount. This effectively accrues a nonrefundable deposit equivalent over time, and savvy owners can set this aside to help address any cleaning or repairs necessary at the end of a rental period. This may also be an option to negotiate with a tenant if they are willing to put up a security deposit for their pet, but cannot front the costs of doing so, as an ongoing smaller amount can often be more easily managed than a large upfront deposit.

Waste Policy

Every pet creates some sort of waste, and managing that refuse should be clearly defined in your agreements with tenants. For dogs, this may mean designating a specific area outside where the tenant can allow their pet to do their business or requiring the tenant leave yard areas picked up and/or raked clear of waste. Cats and other household animals create litter or cage wastes that also need to be cleaned and removed. If you have a specific preference for the best way to dispose of this waste or a designated garbage area, that should be specified in the leasing agreement.

Cat in Rental ApartmentCleaning Clauses

Some owners also include a cleaning requirement as part of their leases. This can be as simple as stating that the household and exterior areas should be clear of all pet waste and by products, or can be more involved such as requiring the home have a professional carpet cleaning and documentation or a receipt to prove it. Including this sort of a stipulation in a lease can also be another potential negotiation point with a pet-owning tenant. If the renter is responsible for this cleaning under the terms of the rental ,that cost would not be something you should need to perform with a designated pet security deposit and could be a fair tradeoff for a lower deposited value.

Exclusions (breeds, size)

Lastly, some owners will restrict the sizes or breeds that they allow tenants to keep at the property. This is most common with dogs, and usually stipulates that renters cannot have dogs above a certain size – usually specified with a weight limit – or of a certain named breed that may be problematic or not allowed in the rental area under local ordinance. This is often done as a concern for damage with larger dogs, which may run through homes and damage flooring with their nails, though multiple-unit buildings also often keep these restrictions so as to not allow large animal movements to create noise for other tenants. Breed restrictions are usually done as a liability concern, with owners concerned about potential aggressive behaviors that could lead to injuries to guests, management employees or other residents.

Specify Consequences for Violations

However you decide to approach pet-owning tenants, you should also be sure that you specify within the lease agreement the consequences for violations as well. This could be a late fee levied for failing to comply with fee or deposit structures or stating a violation is grounds for eviction for more serious infractions. Specifying this in the lease ensures all parties understand their requirements under the terms of the rental agreement and outlines the obligations and rights of both parties in writing.

Garner Properties has plenty of experience in renting pet-friendly homes and creating and managing lease agreements that include specific terms for pet ownership. We can help market your property to potential renters, and even highlight that your property is pet friendly in a competitive marketplace for owners of dogs, cats or other companions. Find out more by giving us a call or fill out a contact form online today.

Written by garnerproperties

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