As a rental property manager or owner, you’re probably aware there are many pet lovers who are in the market for rentals that offer pet-friendly policies. According to a recent Apartments.com survey, 75 percent of renters in the United States are pet owners, so rental properties with flexible pet-friendly options definitely top the list when renters decide where to live.
With the number of pet owners on the rise, so is the need for pet-friendly rentals. The demand doesn’t allow rental companies to say “No pets allowed.” Imposing a firm, no-pets-allowed policy will produce extended vacancies in your properties, which will not bode well long term for investors and managers, according to Fred Thompson, president of the National Association of Residential Property Managers.
Here are a few tips to help you deal with tenants who have pets and ensure your apartments stay in tip-top shape:
Pet-Friendly Tips for Property Managers
- Be proactive. Don’t bog tenants down with a list of rules; instead offer solutions. To ensure your apartments stay in good shape, let pet owners know you are aware accidents will happen and offer a list of carpet cleaners, local dog trainers and area groomers to offset the effects of owning a pet, advises MSNRealEstate.com. For tenants with cats, you can suggest they purchase a self-cleaning litter box at petsafe.net to help them keep their apartment clean. It’s also a good idea to provide a designated dog walking area complete with a supply of waste bags and garbage cans on the property.
- Charge fines versus pet fees. Imposing fines for violations instead of a flat-rate pet fee for simply owning a pet motivates tenants to be responsible pet owners. If a tenant is required to pay an additional monthly fee no matter what, there is nothing in place to motivate him to keep his pet in check. Instead of punishing all pet owners, impose fines if and when problems occur.
- Use local resources. Use your local Humane Society as an ally. Not only can the Humane Society provide landlords guidelines to help better manage properties, it also can assist tenants with problems. The San Francisco SPCA designed a program that offers a $5,000 guarantee to landlords to cover damages caused by adopted pets. The program has been active for five years and it’s been so successful it never has had a single claim. Check your area for similar programs.
- Require a pet screening. Make it policy to require a pet application from each potential pet-owning tenant. Insist on at least seeing a photograph of the pet, but do consider asking to meet the pet. A face-to-face meeting will allow you to observe the pet’s personality and give you a good feel for the owner’s relationship with the dog and whether he or she takes training seriously. Also present a copy of the pet rules and policies at this time for review and a signature.
The fact that almost 80 percent of the pet lovers surveyed are currently living in a pet-friendly building is good news and shows that you can indeed successfully manage a pet-friendly property and prosper.
by Trevor Henson | on December 2, 2013