There can be nothing wrong with allowing your tenants to have pets, but at the same time, you need to have some limits in place. Your pet policies should be carefully outlined in the lease and are there to protect your property and you from any potential liability. But then, there are rules you should have in place and those you shouldn’t.
One of the first things you need to decide is which particular species you are going to allow in your rental units. Create a list of your own, but the most common species permitted, include birds, cats, dogs, fish, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, rabbits, and smaller reptiles. But, before you create your list, consider the property in question. For example, does your property have a fenced in yard that is large enough for a dog to run? Is it an apartment and if so are you going to allow bigger dogs in the upper floors?
If you choose to let your tenants have dogs, do you know which breeds you are going to allow? You should start by checking with your local laws regarding any breed restrictions or if there are laws prohibiting you from putting breed restrictions in place. Following this, you should check with your insurance company to see if they have any coverage restrictions. Some insurance companies will not cover liability in the event your tenant has an “aggressive” breed in your property. On a side note, even if your insurance covers the dog in question, your tenant’s renter’s insurance may not cover the breed.
Size of Animal
If you look around at listings by other property managers listings, you will probably find that most limit the size of dog they allow to those weighing in at 40 lbs. or less. Some also tend to limit the size of dog they permit by how high they stand at the shoulders when they are full grown. By having limits such as this, you can restrict your tenant’s dogs to only those in the small to medium breed range.
Bear in mind that size often has very little to do with the destructiveness of any breed of dog or of how annoying they can be to neighbors. In fact, smaller breeds tend to be more destructive and their sharp barking to be more annoying than most larger breeds. Larger breeds tend to be far more relaxed and laid back, most spend a large part of the day napping.
How Many Pets
This is an important consideration, if you don’t have some kind of limit in place, you could end up with the “crazy cat lady” and her dozens of cats invading and destroying your home. With this in mind, you should put a limit on the number and type of pets you are going to allow your tenants to have in your home.
Spaying and Neutering
While this might seem a bit intrusive, pets that have been spayed or neutered tend to be calmer in nature. Along with this, your tenants are not going to find themselves suddenly the proud parents of a litter of puppies or kittens that have to be dealt with. Your pet policy should include a requirement that all pets be spayed or neutered and be current on vaccines for rabies and any other contagious diseases. They should also be required to be licensed and you may want to include pet insurance covering liability.
Be sure to inform your tenants of your rules and intent to enforce them. You may also want to tell them that you reserve the right to remove the pet if your tenants violate any of your pet policies.