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Many rental property owners are nervous about allowing pets into their properties. They’re worried the animals will cause damage or increase their liability. This is a fear we understand, but we also know that many tenants in Manhattan Beach have at least one pet. If you don’t allow pets in your property, you may have a longer vacancy period, and that can end up costing you more than any pet damage. Today, we’re discussing how a strong pet policy can keep you and your property protected while attracting a larger pool of tenants.
Screening and Documenting Pets
You should screen pets as carefully as you screen tenants. There are services that will screen pets for you, where vet records will be collected and vaccinations will be verified. You can ask for a photo of the pet or you can meet the pet. When you’re conducting your landlord reference checks, ask former landlords about the pets and how they behaved.
Limiting Size, Age, and Breed
In your pet policy, you can place limits on the types and numbers of pets that you’ll allow. For example, puppies and kittens are often not house-trained. So, you can say that you’ll only allow adult dogs and cats. Or, you can limit the size of the animals you’ll allow. For example, no dogs over 25 pounds is a reasonable limit to include in your pet policy. You can say that three cats are allowed or only one pet per tenant. Include limits that make you comfortable but still open your property up to more potential tenants.
Dog breeds are important to limit. You want to be careful of the breeds that are considered dangerous, such as Pit Bulls and German Shepherds. While tenants who own these dogs might try to convince you that they’re sweet and well-mannered, many insurance companies won’t cover dangerous dog breeds. If you want to exclude these types of animals, make sure you include the list of breeds you won’t consider in your lease.
Pet Deposits and Pet Rent
Be sure to charge a deposit or a pet fee. If you charge a deposit, you’ll need to give that money back at the end of the tenancy once you have confirmed no property damage was done. If you charge a pet fee, it’s non-refundable. Some landlords also charge pet rent. In addition to your pet fee, you might charge $25 per month per pet. There are different ways to protect yourself financially when you have a tenant with pets moving into your property.
Emotional Support and Service Animals
It’s important to understand that service animals and emotional support animals are not pets. The law sees them as legal accommodations that must be made for tenants who have disabilities. You cannot deny a service or emotional support animal, and you cannot charge any type of pet fee, pet deposit, or pet rent. This is important to understand, because you can get into some expensive legal trouble if you violate the protections in place for people who need service and support animals.
Pets can be tricky, but we suggest you allow them with a strong pet policy included as an addendum to your lease agreement. If you need help writing a pet policy or screening pets, please contact us at South Bay Property Management Pros.