Our Expert Tips for Pet-Friendly Rental Properties in Charleston

January 30, 2020 | By Charleston Property Company
Family with Dog

Published January 30, 2020. Updated August 29, 2023. 


Are you considering whether to allow tenants with pets into your Charleston rental property? This is certainly a significant decision!

Not only can it strongly impact how much profit you will make, but also how many tenants will be interested in renting your property.

According to recent statistics, 66% of U.S. households have a pet. However, many landlords in the U.S. don't allow pets on their properties.

So, if you've been on the fence about Fido, this blog is for you! Today we break down the benefits of allowing pets, discuss the risks, and cover everything else in between. Here are some tips from our Charleston property management company when it comes to renters with pets!

What Are the Benefits of Allowing Pets?

Are there any benefits to allowing pets in your properties (when the risks of damage or injury are present)? You might be surprised at how offering pet-friendly rental properties can benefit your revenue.

More People Will Be Interested in Your Property

Take the statistics we mentioned above into consideration and fit that to renters. If you don't allow pets, only 34% of your potential tenants can rent your Charleston investment property! That means you're effectively missing out on the other 66% of the potential renters who could be ideal for your properties.

Keep in mind that not every tenant out of that 34% will even be the right fit for your property, and you've suddenly dropped your chances even lower.

You Can Set a Higher Rental Rate

When you rent your property to pet owners, you can also charge a non-refundable pet deposit, pet rent, and additional pet fees to cover some of the expenses associated with renting to pets.

As a Charleston property management company, we've seen pet rent become the industry standard. While the expected rent you can charge varies, you can expect anywhere from $10 to $60 monthly.

Family with Dog, pet friendly rentals Charleston, SC, concept

Pet Owners Are Usually Very Responsible Residents

Taking care of a pet requires time, devotion, and attention. In most cases, this means that your new tenants will put the same effort into taking care of your property.

Property owners often find that renters with pets are some of their best tenants!

Pet Owners Renew Their Leases More Often

When pet owners find a suitable home for their pets, they're less likely to move. Given that not all landlords allow pets on their properties, pet owners hate to have to try looking for a new home once they've found a suitable one for their furry friends. It's stressful for pets and tenants alike to move!

As a Charleston property management company, we see delivering the best pet-friendly rentals Charleston, SC, offers as an opportunity for investors.

What Are the Risks of Allowing Pets?

Just like there are benefits, there are also some risks associated with allowing pets on your property. Here are some of the most common ones.

Some Condo Associations Don't Allow Pets

If that's the case, you can't do anything about this except to join another association. You might consider hiring a property management company in Charleston to help manage your investment property when dealing with your condo.

Pets Might Cause Property Damage

The risk of damage to your rental property is always present, especially with dog breeds that have a high tendency to chew things. Some of the most common situations include chewed wood, cables, or wires, scratch marks, or destroyed carpeting and landscaping. There's also the risk of deep and lingering odors from pets like ferrets.

Use your pet addendum as a chance to weed out breeds that you think might be a poor fit for your property from the start. You'll also want to apply a screening process to pets to identify damage-prone animals before they have a chance to move in.

If damage occurs anyway, you can also apply that pet deposit or additional pet rent to cover the costs of repair.

Noise Can Disturb the Neighbors

If you allow dogs on your property, the dog will probably bark. In these cases (or during the screening process), ask the tenant if the dog barks — and how much. It's also probably a good idea to cross-check this with previous landlords (if any) and see if there were any complaints from the neighbors.

Your pet addendum should address excessive noise issues to encourage renters to keep pets quiet and avoid bothering the neighbors.

Liability in the Event of an Attack

As a landlord, you don't want to be held liable in case your tenant's dog, snake, or pet chinchilla attacks someone on your property. However, most responsible pet owners don't own pets prone to attacks or allow their animals to become aggressive toward others.

Again, the pet screening process and your pet criteria can help you reduce the potential of specific, aggressive dog breeds moving into your property. If there are certain breeds you'd feel more comfortable excluding, mention them in the lease.

"Interviewing" the Prospective Pet

Knowing the common risks and benefits of allowing tenants with pets on your property can help you in making the right decision.

However, you can't know the benefits and the risks until you meet the tenant and his or her pet. When you do, make sure to ask some questions, like:

  • How many pets do they have?

  • What's the pet's size and breed?

  • What's the pet's age?

  • Has the pet ever attacked another animal or human?

  • Is the pet trained?

  • Is the pet vaccinated?

  • What equipment does the owner possess (leash, toys, collar, harness, etc.)? Having more of these is usually a good sign.

  • How does the pet get along with other pets and children?

Once you get answers to these questions, it will be a lot easier to make a decision. If you find a responsible tenant that seems to care about their animal and the pet is friendly, you can consider them as a candidate for your rental.

Keep in mind that an expert Charleston property management company will also be able to help you screen potential pets and their owners.

A dog holding a house key and model home, landlord pet policy concept.

Make Your Pet Addendum Professional

If you don't allow pets, you need a clause in your lease stating that you don't allow pets.

However, if your final decision is to rent your property to a pet owner, you will need to add a pet addendum that documents your landlord pet policy. Your addendum should also detail the pet rent amount, pet deposit amount, and a non-refundable pet fee to the clause.

To draft a professional pet addendum, you'll need to understand what each term means. Here's an overview of the terms and how to apply them to your pet policies.

A Pet Deposit

This is a refundable fee that a tenant pays when they move in. This deposit should cover any damage that's done by the pet during the lease.

At the end of the lease, if the pet does no damage, the deposit is refunded to the tenant.

Pet Rent

Pet rent is the monthly fee a tenant has to pay in addition to the regular monthly rental to keep a pet in the rental home. Usually, this fee varies between $10 and $60.

Pet Fees

The non-refundable pet fee is a fee the landlord gets for allowing a pet on their property. This varies depending on your state and region, but typically, most landlords charge between $200 and $300 as a one-time, non-refundable pet fee.

Generally, landlords will pick between two of these fees rather than apply all three. Don't be afraid to reach out to a Charleston property management company if you need help drafting these crucial components!

Assistance Animals vs. Pets: What's the Difference?

As a landlord, you should know that pets and service animals must be treated differently. If your tenant has a service animal or emotional support animal (ESA), you must provide reasonable accommodation to the owner and their animal.

Both are protected by the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Note that these animals are not considered "pets," and you cannot charge a tenant pet rent or a security deposit for service animals. 

Currently, only miniature horses and dogs qualify for service animal positions and protections. If you have a tenant approaching you about their "service snake," you just might smell a rat!

"Therapy" animals are another emerging class — but they require official documentation that is easy to fake. Be aware that the government is now investigating suppliers of these fake certificates. However, tread carefully when it comes to "therapy" animals, and involve your legal counsel or a property manager when in doubt.

Allowing Pets In Your Charleston Rental Property Can Boost Income

Now that you understand the most common risks and rewards associated with renting to tenants with pets, you can move forward on which choice works best for you as a Charleston landlord. In most cases, property managers recommend offering pet-friendly rental properties to open access to more quality renters and boost income!

However, if you're not sure what's best for your properties, you can always reach out to our property management experts at Charleston Property Company. We're here to help you make smart decisions about allowing pets into your Charleston rental property! Contact us today.


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