November 24, 2017 Photos by: Olena Yakobchuk/Shutterstock.com
For landlords who want to rent to people with pets but have been burned in the past, we’ve got seven things to check before your furry tenants move in.
For years, I rented from landlords who were kind enough to give me a chance to rent with my dogs. Most of that time, I also worked at my local animal shelter. Part of our intake process was to ask why people were surrendering their animals. Time and time again, we were told that it was because their landlords would not allow them to have a pet.
Eventually, I became a landlord and my first priority was ensuring that my tenants wouldn’t have to choose between a roof over their head or their best friend.
I renovated my property, removed all carpet and put down hardwood floors. I painted the walls with a washable acrylic paint. I secured the backyard with a fence and put childproof locks on lower cabinets in the kitchen. I placed a garbage bin with a tight fitting lid in the parking area to keep pet mess odors at a minimum. I wanted to create the perfect place for a tenant with a pet.
Why? I knew that tenants can have trouble finding a place to live with a pet. Here’s my logic: if I can attract a quality pet parent who’s looking to rent, I will have a long-term tenant who will take care of my investment. With the rental market set against pet owners, marketing to this niche demographic can set your property apart.
During my time as a landlord, I had many tenants with pets and almost no animal-related issues. Fish tanks, lizards, cats, ferrets, and dogs – they’re all welcome in my rental property. From one pet-loving landlord to another, here are my tried-and-true tips for picking the perfect pet parent tenant.
- Veterinary Care. First and foremost, responsible pet parents provide routine veterinary care for their pets. Is the pet spayed or neutered? Do they have all their shots? Is their veterinarian willing to give them a reference?
- Call References. You always check references for potential tenants, but when you call ask specifically about the pet. Ask how it behaved, and if there were any complaints from neighbors, the pet’s routine and how long the tenant has had it for. Be sure to ask if they had any other animals as well. Responsible pet parents keep their pets for life, and don’t end up with a new pet every time they move, leaving the other behind. Ask the previous landlord if they consider the owner to be responsible.
- What pets will you allow? This largely depends on the space you are renting. An apartment in a high rise might be tricky for a dog owner, but a cat could be very happy. A family renting a house with a dog can make great neighbors, as they will be out walking and playing with the dog in the neighborhood. Each type of pet has its own pros and cons.
- Live/Work Routine. Pets like to be a part of the family, and too much time spent away can lead to stress and bad behaviours. Ask prospective tenants about the routines they keep with their pets. Who takes care of the pet when the tenant is away?
- In Case of Emergency. Provide tenants with a form detailing with information about their pets. This should include age, breed, colouring and if the pet requires any medications. In addition have a list of emergency contacts who are familiar with the pet and can help out if the need arises.
- Pet Waste. Pets create waste, so spell it out in your rental agreement how you expect the tenant to deal with it. For example, you might states that “Dog waste is to be picked up immediately and placed in the black waste bin in the parking lot” Or that “Kitty litter is to be double bagged and never flushed.”
- Extra Pets. Be clear in your rental agreement is for specific pets, if a tenant wishes to add another pet to the family, then written permission must be obtained.
Renting to pet owners can be risky business – there is potential that the pets will cause damage or annoy neighbors or other tenants. But those who rent to responsible pet owners can end up with the ideal long term, responsible tenants every landlord dreams of.
Kevin Roberts lives for adventure. Together with his pack of rescue dogs and his husband, he spends as much time outdoors as possible. Kevin lives by the motto: “Get outside and play with your dogs!”