Written by Dave Van Horn from biggerpockets.com
To be quite honest, in my close to 30 years in property management, I've never had a problem with pets. My problems have always been with the pet's owners.
For example, it is usually not the pet who fails to change the litter box and it isn't the pet's idea to have 8 dogs in one apartment. Yes, that has actually happened to me. I had bought a duplex once, with two one-bedroom units, where I inherited a tenant with one dog who suddenly had a record-setting eight pups. The funny thing was that my tenant decided she wanted to try and keep them all. People are crazy. Obviously, the idea of turning a one-bedroom apartment into a kennel didn't work out very well.
No Pet Policies
I've heard many of the super landlords talk about how they have these “no pets” policies; they’re the type with zero tolerance. One guy I know claims he walks through his apartment building unannounced with a dog whistle trying to catch unsuspecting tenants. This may be taking it to a new level, but I do agree to a point.
I have a no pet policy too, especially if I have a newer unit that’s in high demand or a unit that’s just been renovated with a lot of new carpet and flooring. Other than a seeing-eye dog, my first inclination is “no pets.”
When Pets Make Cents
Still, there are scenarios when pets can actually make you money. For example, when I’m looking at a rental property to purchase, one that has a strong pet odor can be bought at a good discount.
There are ways to get rid of the odor in most cases, whether that’s removing the carpet, sealing the floor, or using a product like OdorExit to mask the bad smell. It’s pretty rare that you would have to replace wood, as you can usually encapsulate it, or in other words, seal it off. Anyone who’s done a fire restoration job would know what I mean.
There are some other scenarios that make sense too. Maybe you have a property that’s tougher than normal to rent or isn’t in the safest area. Maybe you can charge a pet deposit or a monthly fee.
If you catch a tenant with a pet, this may be a good solution. If the unit had a previous tenant with a pet or the carpet is on the way out, maybe pets would work out okay in this scenario, and you could get some extra cash flow.
Paying pet fees is not a logical thing; it’s an emotional one. To many people, their pet is a family member for which expenses are considered well worth it.
Know When to Draw the Line
That being said, there are times when we all have to draw line, and for many, the line is at wild animals, reptiles, or dangerous breeds.
Please note that many homeowner and landlord insurance policies will not cover you with these types of situations, so be sure to check with your provider. Also, this is a good reason to explain to your tenant why it may be an unacceptable situation.
And, of course, insurance policies only cover legal activity, so it’s the landlord’s responsibility to stay up-to-date on any municipality or deed restrictions in regard to pets.
For example, I have several rentals in a town that banned reptiles after a large snake ate the neighbor’s small dog.
As you can see, it’s a crazy world property managers live in.