Tenant Pet Policies: Tips for Fort Worth Property Managers and Tenants

Cat hair, dog slobber, and muddy pawprints may come to mind when you think about pets in rentals. These furry animals are valuable to people, and are considered family in most cases. While most property owners worry that pets will decrease the property value of their rental units, or that there will be an increase in damage, studies have shown that this isn’t necessarily true. When you choose to rent out your home to pet owners, it could mean more responsible tenants, no more damage or maintenance needed than usual, and a more consistent stream of income. Whether you’re a pet person yourself or not, your attitude towards pets on your property could be the difference for a future tenant and end up costing you legal fees. The Fair Housing Law states that in certain cases, you are required to allow pets that are needed for the wellbeing of your tenant. We’ll go over what pet policies are out there and which ones you should adopt in order to increase revenue. 

Decreased Vacancies

68% of U.S. households own a pet, and most pet owners will do anything for their furry family members, even dictate where they are going to live based on if pets are allowed or not. Because there aren’t very many pet-friendly rental units out there, Fort Worth property managers encourage property owners to allow pets, and by so doing, invite more possible tenants. Happy with an animal-accommodating rental, tenants will most likely stay for a while, worried that other places may not be as accepting. This means fewer vacancies and consistent income for you as the property owner. Pets can also mean tenants who are more responsible and happier overall. If they can care for a pet, take it to the vet, and remember to feed, bathe, and clean up after it, pet owners can also be expected to clean up after themselves, take care of the rental unit, and remember to pay their rent on time. Since animals have been shown to improve overall mood, you’ll most likely have happier tenants as well. 

No Greater Damage

Worried that you won’t be able to afford to replace the carpet when a tenant with a puppy that loves to chew decides to leave? Studies show that damage isn’t any more costly than normal damages caused by tenants who don’t have pets. You can also control how much you want to charge for pet deposits. Asking for a larger pet deposit will ensure that if there are extra damages, it’s covered by the tenant, meaning low to no risk involved for you. FIREPAW is a non-profit group that created CARP (a companion animal renters program). They work with landlords and our Fort Worth property managers to help them increase profits while decreasing pet-related damages. CARP provides economic assessment, needs assessment, tailor-made programs, customized pet policy and pet agreements, and a custom made pet perk package. 

Pet Policy and Expectations

With their help, you can customize your policies on pets to fit your personal situation and property. FIREPAW has helped remove negative myths about pets in rentals, creating more pet-friendly options for tenants and awareness of the not-so-negative realities of pets to property owners. If you choose to rent out your home, Specialized Property Management can help you figure out the best customized pet policy for your property. Make sure to ask questions and set expectations with your tenant in regard to their pet. Just because you are allowing pets, doesn’t mean certain rules don’t apply. Some pet owner expectations to set in your pet policy are as follows: 

  1. All pets will have the required shots, licenses and tags, including name tags. Check with your state to determine the vaccines and licenses required locally.
  2. All dogs will be on a leash at all times outside of the apartment.
  3. Other animals, such as birds and hamsters, will be appropriately caged.
  4. The tenant is responsible for cleaning up any “accidents” their pet has left inside the apartment, inside the building or outdoors.
  5. The tenant is required to pay for any damage their animal has caused.
  6. Require or advise (up to you) the tenant to get renters insurance with liability coverage.
  7. If any part of the pet agreement is violated, or the pet becomes a nuisance or a hazard to others, Fort Worth property managers can require the pet to be removed or can terminate the tenancy. If only the pet is removed, this will have no effect on the validity of the signed lease agreement, to which the tenant will still have to adhere.
  8. State that you have the right to make changes to the pet agreement as long as you give proper notice, at least 30 days. This protects you in case, for example, you decide not to allow dogs in the future.

Increased Revenue

As a property owner, it’s your job to maximize your profits while keeping tenants happy. Creating a pet friendly policy is one of the easiest ways to accomplish both. In most cases, because of the negative stereotypes around pets, there is a shortage of property owners who will accept pets. Even though pet owners are happy to pay more rent in order to keep their pets, and in most cases make more money than people who don’t have pets, landlords aren’t taking advantage of the opportunity out of fear of potential damages. In fact, properties that allow animals in rental units are able to charge 20-30% more in rent. Fort Worth property managers realize that other benefits include longer lengths of tenant stay, less vacancies, less marketing needed, and more applications received per unit. 

Insurance Costs

If you’re still worried about costs because you’ll have to pay more in insurance when you rent out your home to pet owners, think about it mathematically. It is true that pets come with increased insurance costs, but these costs are relatively low and usually are completely covered by the upcharge in rent. Though the amount of damage is usually no higher than the amount for people who don’t have pets, when there is damage, the cost averages around $430, which is much less than the rent deposit paid when the tenant signed the lease forms. This means property owners don’t actually have to worry about a decrease in profits and with more tenants willing to pay the premium for their pets, extra insurance costs won’t be a big deal.

Service Animals

Fort Worth property managers at Specialized Property Management, will make sure you know about the laws regarding service animals. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Fair Housing Act, there are some animals that you can’t turn away, even if your property is not pet friendly. If your potential tenant has a disability present that the use of a service animal would help alleviate, that animal is a required exception to any “no pet” policy or breed restrictions. Even if the breed of the service animal is deemed aggressive, if it is labeled a service animal, it must be accepted. It is our job to inform you of the documentation to ask for: proof that the disability exists and creates a need for a service animal, and to inform you that there are some things you can’t ask for – like information on what the specific disability is. In these types of situations, there are always tricky details for which to watch. 

Our professional Fort Worth property managers have dealt with situations like yours, time and time again. We know how to help you, protect you, and maximize your profits. We’ll inform you of your rights as a property owner and make sure you aren’t violating any rights of potential tenants. If you don’t allow service animals, even when you have a no-pet policy in place, or if you charge an extra fee for service animals,  it can cost you greatly. Service animals are not technically considered pets and are required by law to be accepted into rental properties. Check with your property management team for information on the few exceptions that exist before you rent out your home. 

Our Specialized Fort Worth property managers are well versed in local and federal laws, ultimately saving you time, worry, and money. We’ll make sure that your rental property is free from costly legal mistakes, and take care of disabled members of our community that need service animals. As the nation’s leading property management firm, and with 30 years of experience, you can rest assured that our unmatched customer service will have you, your property, and your tenants, in good hands. Learn more about our services and how we can help you manage your property.

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