Is a Pet Friendly Rental Property Still a Good Investment?
“I refuse to be pet friendly”….I cannot tell you how many landlords come to me and say, I don’t want pets in my property! And my heart just sinks. I know that sounds dramatic, but there are some cold hard facts about a property that chooses to not allow pets.
A common train of thought or ideal that landlords cling to is that their property value will plummet if they allow pets in their unit, and this is simply untrue. That doesn’t mean their concerns are not valid, but when you look at the numbers, the increased maintenance or damages actually from pets, is in most cases, very minimal.
I’d like to share some of my experience with being pet friendly vs. not being pet friendly and why I am so passionate about this specific issue:
50% of Tenants have pets, the other 50% lie about it. How many times have you done an inspection and see indications of a pet when there were not supposed to be any, or signs of more than what was originally agreed upon? This is one of the most serious, and most frequent lease violations we come across.
I absolutely understand the fear about choosing to become pet friendly and allowing pets into your property, but here are some tips on how to reduce the risk, damage, and fear of making this adjustment for your rental property.
Pets Negotiable – why this is different than just “allowing pets”
The minute you advertise “pets negotiable” it’s a game changer. This automatically allows the potential tenant to think if they can convince you how great their pets are, you will allow it, but what it really does is forces them to be transparent. They will be much more open to sharing their pet situation vs. a hard drawn no pet policy, or strict restrictions. This is absolutely what you want as a landlord. You want to know before moving forward with a lease signing what this tenant is bringing into your property. Choosing to be pet friendly and stating that pets are negotiable accomplishes that. It also allows you as the owner of the property to decide what you are and are not willing to accept. Let me be very clear here for a second: this is talking strictly about pets, not companion or service animals, that is a whole other topic, make sure you check with your local laws and abide by those for companion or service animals. Making the switch to pet friendly with pets negotiable is absolutely a win-win for the tenant, and the owner when you choose to say pets negotiable on your advertising.
Pet Friendly Rental Property Has Decreased Vacancy Days
Pet ownership is at an all-time high, with over 68% of households own pets. However, I can tell you in my personal circle of friends, family, co-workers and just people I know… I have to think really hard about someone who does not own a pet at all, so I would say it’s safe to say that I think 68% is on the conservative end of the scale. Most people, myself included, treat their pets as part of the family. There is absolutely no way that a pet is disposable, especially when it comes to my home. I would never consider a property that is not pet friendly. You may think that this train of thought only affects current pet owners, but how many couples are just moving in together and think they may want to adopt a pet in a few months, or surprise their child for a birthday with a new dog, or a young adult getting their first place and wanting to take on more responsibility. By advertising a property that strictly says NO pets, you eliminate over 85% of the tenant pool. That is HUGE! What does that translate to? Well, it means your property will sit vacant for 3X as long as the normal property, if not longer. In the Portland area, our vacancy time is generally less than 5 days, however for a property that does not allow pets, it is 45 or longer. What does that translate to? Could be THOUSANDS of dollars, especially if your property sits vacant for more than a month. Is it really worth losing thousands to not have pets in your property? Which leads me to my next point….
Pets Don’t Cause Greater Damage Risk
Would allowing a pet cause that much damage to your property? The probability is so low, it could almost be a non-consideration. In all of my years of property management, and all of the turnovers I have done, I have never once seen a pet cause more damage than a security deposit.
The biggest concern of a landlord is how much damage is this pet going to cause? I know you might think the worst….. destroyed carpets, chewed up wood, holes in the walls, broken doors or fences… because they have 4 Rottweilers in a bedroom that equal a grizzly bear. The facts are, that actual damages caused by pets, is less than renters with children. And the great news? You can collect extra deposits, charge pet rent, and even in some states charge a non-refundable deposit, this goes without saying, but make you check with your local state laws for what you can and cannot charge tenants. With the ability to charge all of those additional things to the tenant, it will more than cover any pet related damages so your financial risks for allowing pets is quite low. I understand this could be a difficult concept to believe, and to be really candid, I have seen children cause extremely expensive damage to properties – for instance, stickers…. They love to put stickers on things, when you put a permanent sticker on a $4000 stainless steel fridge, and goo gone and every home remedy hasn’t been able to get the residue off without scratching the precious door, you’re in for an expensive repair. It is of course against every state and federal law to charge a child deposit… though we all can probably think of a time that may have been useful!
Customize your Policies
This one is my favorite, because pets are not a protected class (again, only speaking about pets and NOT companion animals, or service animals), you can place as many insurance policies in our leases, addendums, and requirements as you need to as landlords to ensure that you are placing tenants with great pets in properties. We even have special clauses in the move out requirements for tenants who have had pets in their home. We would love to assist you in ensuring that by making the choice to have “pets negotiable” that you remain protected and reduce your risk of damages as much as possible.
If you are still concerned about increased costs from potential damage and increased insurance when you have a pet friendly rental property, discuss your concerns with us at Real Property Management Columbia. We can assist you in customizing a pet policies and pet agreements for your leasing situation. Real Property Management Columbia is the Columbia Metro Area’s property management company that can take care of all your rental property needs and provide an environment that makes you, as a property owner, comfortable and makes your tenants feel at home. Contact us here!