Will You Be a Pet-Friendly Landlord?

For many Americans, pets are considered a part of the family, and they would not consider living in any home without their fur-bearing companions. Chances are good that many of your potential tenants will also be pet lovers. More than half of all Americans own pets, and nearly all of the pet owners surveyed in a recent Apartments.com study said that pet policies played a major role in their decision of where to live. However, while the decision to share a home with an animal may be easy for a tenant, the landlord faces a harder decision when determining whether or not to allow pets in a rental property. The landlord must carefully weigh the pros and cons and come to a decision that he’s comfortable within his particular situation.

Pros of Allowing Pets:

You’ll have more potential tenants. With so many pet owners looking for housing, obviously the inability to keep pets will be a deal-breaker for some renters. While you may save some headaches by forbidding pets, you may also be closing yourself off to more renters—and more income. You’ll attract more millennials. In most markets, millennials are making up a larger portion of the pool of potential renters. One recent survey found that 74 percent of millennials were living in rental properties. And millennials are huge pet lovers, statistically speaking—more than 76 percent of them own cats and dogs. Pet owners have higher incomes. Research has shown that 65 percent of pet owners earn more than $50,000 a year. Pet owners stick around longer. Pet owners tend to be more loyal tenants, especially if pet-friendly rentals are relatively hard to come by. Once they’ve established a home with a pet, a renter may be more reluctant to disrupt the animal’s life with a move.

Cons of Allowing Pets:

They can do a lot of damage. This is probably the first con most landlords think of—it’s hard not to picture an energetic animal destroying floors, doors, carpets, and landscaping. Your other tenants and neighbors may not approve. Pets can be highly disruptive in a previously quiet home environment. Neighbors may start to complain about noises or odors in common areas. Living next to a loud pet may influence a tenant’s decision not to renew a lease. Liability. In most cases, it’s the pet’s owner who is responsible for damages if the animal attacks. Many renter’s insurance policies cover liability for pet attacks. But, according to findlaw.com, if a responsible tenant does not have enough coverage, a victim may include the landlord as a defendant in a personal injury lawsuit.

Have Your Pet Policy in Place

Any well-crafted lease should include a separate pet addendum, which your tenant should sign, detailing whether or not you will allow pets. If you do decide to make your rental pet-friendly, you can minimize your risk considerably by specifying:
  • A refundable pet deposit
  • Maximum number of pets
  • Maximum size and weight of pets
  • Restrictions on dangerous breeds.
An experienced Maryland landlord law attorney can help you develop a safe and profitable agreement—and can help protect your interests should conflicts arise with your tenants and their four-legged friends. Contact Lusk Law, LLC, for a consultation.