Would you like to reduce turnover, increase your pool of applicants and make your listing more visible? Offering an attractive and effective pet policy does all that and AHRN.com has the information you need to consider when renting to pet owners.
The transient nature of the military community is both a positive and negative for property owners and managers. While the regular influx of new potential tenants helps to keep properties rented, it also regularly moves great tenants on to new assignments. Attracting and retaining great tenants can come down to the details in a competitive rental market. With a large percentage of military families owning pets, the right pet policy can be a powerful marketing and retention tool.
Types of Pet Policies
Many landlords choose to delineate their pet policy based on the types of pet: breed, weight and species. For some, this is based on insurance concerns as some insurance providers have restrictions. Often though, type restrictions are based on personal experience with a small number of tenants. A policy based on solely on the breed or type of animal is incomplete. It fails to provide the property owner or manager with the information needed to qualify a potential candidate.
A more flexible approach is to establish a pet policy based on owner/manager approval. This opens up the pool of potential applicants and avoids 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.
A strong indication of a pet owner’s level of responsibility is their ability to provide documentation of vaccinations, regular vet care and local pet license. With an “upon approval” pet policy, it is a simple matter of asking for proof of current vaccinations, a recommendation from the pet’s current vet and requiring that the pet be registered according to local laws.
Outline Tenant Responsibility
A reasonable pet policy can also include standards regarding pet care. In particular, it is smart to give preference to tenant that utilizes 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 covered issues concerning the pet.
Pet fees are a common way of addressing the possibility for pet damage. It is important that you either consult an attorney or familiarize yourself with the regulations in your area. Some stats, like California, limit the amount of fees you can charge a tenant – including pet fees. Some markets also employ pet rents: a small surcharge on the monthly rent for tenants with pets. In the long run though, this can be seen as punishing pet owners whether their pet causes damage or not.
Evaluating Pet Tenants
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.
Boost Your Listing
By at least considering pets on a “by approval” basis, you expand the number of listing searches that your home will show up in substantially. Military families are very familiar with the challenges of renting with pets and are more likely to stay in a home that allows them. Ready to increase your visibility, pool of applicants and retention? Post your pet-friendly listing today and take advantage of AHRN.com’s Gold listing to make the most of the 2015 PCS season!