Pets are often a hot button issue between landlords and tenants. They increase the potential for turnover-delaying and expensive damage. Allowing them broadens your pool of potential tenants. You’ll decide what’s best for your properties on a case by case basis. As you weigh the options, here is why (and how) to incorporate pets in your rental strategy.
“We don’t allow pets” is something AHRN.com users hear constantly from landlords and property managers. But for many of our military families, the love and companionship of a pet is a tremendous offset to the challenges of military life and worth the added difficulty to their housing search. By establishing a pet policy based on owner/manager approval, the pool of potential applicants widens dramatically and you avoid putting off an otherwise exceptional tenant because their pet is 7 lbs over an arbitrary weight. An “on approval” pet policy allows you to question and weigh references, age and a potential tenants ability to demonstrate responsible pet ownership when considering a pet.
In a recent Facebook posting, a military family asked how best to get their home rented quickly. The first response? Allow pets.
An effective pet policy goes a long way towards off setting the risks involved in renting to pet owners. In particular, it is smart to give preference to tenants that utilize pet sitters or a pet boarding facility (as opposed to friends) when they are out of town. Depending on the home owner’s insurance, it is also possible to require tenants to carry their own liability insurance that covers issues concerning the pet. At AHRN.com, we advise service members and their families to create a Pet Resume to make it simple for you to evaluate their fit for your listing. A complete pet resume should include details about the pet like breed, age, energy level and routine. There should also be information about the pet’s veterinary history and routine pet care (regularly trimmed nails are less likely to scratch floors and doors). Any training or evidence of behavior is a bonus, especially for dogs. In particular, the AKC Canine Good Citizen test is an excellent barometer. In order to have passed that test, a dog would have completed an intermediate level of training and been tested by a representative of the AKC. In the Pet Resume, we recommend that tenants include written recommendations from the the pet’s vet and a previous landlord (if applicable). References may well be the most powerful evaluation tool available to you. It is also a good idea to meet the pet during the evaluation stage – this will reassure you that the pet you are considering meets the description and information.
Pets & Your Listing
If you’ve opted for a listing that is open to pets, utilize that detail in your listing to attract the widest possible pool of tenants! If your current tenant has pets, even that could be a way to make your listing stand out from the crowd.
If You’re Going for a No Pet Zone:
Pets make some people nervous or frightened, since not everyone grew up with them. Others may be allergic, have fears or superstitions about animals or have strong ideas about animal rights. Even if people love pets, the ones in the home you’re showing or listing aren’t theirs. When you are showing or photographing a property, consider removing the pets or containing them to crates.
The pets themselves
Board pets for weekend Open Houses, and take pets to day care (or a neighbor or friends house) for showings.
Don’t forget the yard
While a home is actively listed, occupants either need to be vigilant about picking up poop in the yard or taking them for walks to avoid soiling the yard. But you should add arriving a little early to your own check list to take a lap around the yard before a showing or photographing a listing. Keep bags and rubber gloves with you in your car or briefcase.
Utilize “placement pets”
Yep, that’s a professional term. It describes an ideal compromise: appeal to pet lovers people by including pets in your listing photos, while keeping them out of sight and scent while showing. Two good ways to utilize your pet models are having pets laying on the lawn to show the curb appeal or in highlighting how the back yard and deck can be used in your listing photos. Another option is to have a dog curled up in front of the fireplace on a rug next to an armchair, or a cat snoozing next to knitting needles and a basket of yarn.
Stage the pets too!
If you are giving a tour or showing of a home with pets, have them groomed, put new sweaters on them in neutral colors (maybe matching carpet or using the colors of the house), swap current pet beds with new, fresh, unstained, fluffy ones, and keep pets and their stuff behind a decorative or brand new gate in a washer/drier area. Buy cute containers for their treats. Don’t go over board here, but it can be good to have a strategically placed framed photo in the family room or on a desk rather than frayed edged photos on a fridge.
Crate them beautifully
One of my friends had a beautiful crate that had decorative mahogany on the sides and the top so it almost looked like a piece of furniture – and the dog went in there when people came to see their condo. If your dog is skittish, you can always cover the crate with an attractive throw while the animal inside – this will comfort the pet and look nice at the same time.
Thank you to Rochelle for collaborating on this article. Rochelle Joseph is a Writer and Image and Marketing Consultant who has had experience marketing, renting, buying and selling her properties for over 20 years. She has written and edited for several publications, including the Boston Book Review, The Emerson Review, ZooBorns.com, WildLife Magazine, the Houston Zoo, The Wildlife Center of Texas, One Spirit Interfaith Seminary as well as AHRN.com. She currently writes at her great gifts blog at http://lookyhereu.blogspot.com and her animal blog at http://naturegirrrl.blogspot.com