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 official statistics, 68% of U.S. households have a pet. However, only 55% of landlords in the U.S. allow pets on their properties. If you've been on the fence about Fido, this blog is for you! Let's break down the benefits of allowing pets, discuss the risks, and cover everything else in between. Here are some tips from a Charleston property management company when it comes to renters with pets!
What Are the Benefits of Allowing Pets?
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 32% of your potential tenants can rent your Charleston investment property; you’re effectively missing out on the other 68%. Keep in mind that not every tenant out of that 32% will even be the right fit for your property, and you've suddenly dropped your chances even lower.
You Can Set a Higher Rent Price
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 per month.
Pet Owners Are Usually Responsible
Taking care of a pet requires time, devotion, and attention. In most cases, this means that your new tenants will put the same efforts into taking care of your property.
Pet Owners Renew Their Lease More Often
When pet owners find a suitable home for their pets, they’re less likely to move. Given that only 55% of landlords allow pets on their properties, pet owners hate to have to go 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 this as an opportunity for investors.
What Are the Risks for 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. In this case, you might consider hiring a property management company in Charleston to help manage your investment property when it comes to dealing with your condo.
Pets Might Cause Material Damage
This risk 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.
Noise Can Disturb the Neighbors
If you allow dogs on your property, the dog will probably bark. In these cases, 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.
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 alligator attacks someone on your property. However, research shows that this happens in only 7% of cases. Still, if there are certain breeds you'd feel more comfortable excluding, mention it 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 his or her pet 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.
Make Your Pet Addendum Professional
If you don’t allow pets, you need to have a clause in your lease that will state 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. In this case, you’ll need to add a 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. In this section, we’ll help you differentiate between a refundable pet deposit, a non-refundable pet fee, and pet rent.
A Pet Deposit
This is a refundable fee that a tenant pays when he/she moves in. This deposit should cover any damage that’s done by the pet during the lease. At the end of the lease, if there’s no damage done by the pet, the deposit is refunded to the tenant.
Pet rent is the monthly fee a tenant has to pay in addition to the regular monthly rental. Usually, this fee varies between $10 and $60.
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 $100 and $600 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 are treated differently. If your tenant has a service animal, you must provide reasonable accommodation to the owner and their animal. Both are protected by the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). 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. Tread carefully when it comes to "therapy" animals, and involve your legal counsel when in doubt.
So: Should Landlords Allow Pets?
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.
Need more advice? You can always reach out to the property management experts at Charleston Property Company to help you make smart decisions about allowing pets into your Charleston investment home! We don't play around when it comes to protecting your investment. Contact us today!