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Setting Expectations with Pet Owners

Stow Tenant Holding Her Cat

As a Stow rental property owner, you must set certain expectations with your renters from your first interaction. One of the first matters you should address is your pet policy. The choice to accept pets in your rental home is one that only you can make. Both solutions have advantages and disadvantages, which can often make the decision more complicated to make a hard-and-fast decision. If you do decide to allow pets, you need to have your pet policy clearly outlined and prepare to go over it with your renter when they sign the lease. You should also set clear expectations with your renter pet owners, as well as what type and how many pets are permitted, pet deposits and fees, monthly charges, vaccination and behavior requirements, how you’ll deal with complaints, and the consequences for violating your pet policy. We will elaborate on each of the following.

Type and Number of Pets

Unquestionably the most frequent pets that Americans have at home are dogs and cats. Your pet policy should include specifics regarding any breed or size restrictions and how many pets are allowed. Be sure to check local regulations and follow any rules you find there. Smaller pets, like birds, fish, and hamsters, are also really common, so remember to address these types of pets in your lease documents.

Pet Deposit/Fee and Monthly Rent

It’s one of the drawbacks of allowing pets on the property: pets often cause damage that may go beyond regular wear and tear. For this reason, most rental property owners will charge a pet deposit or fee in addition to the standard security deposit. Many also charge additional pet rent monthly to help cover the additional property maintenance and repair costs. While the amount you charge is up to you, it’s a good idea to do some research and see what other Stow property managers charge for pets and follow suit.

Vaccination and Behavior Requirements

In addition to the financial responsibilities of rental pet owners, be sure to include any other requirements related to keeping pets in your lease. For example, many cities and counties have vaccination and licensing regulations, especially for dogs. By including your local regulations in your lease and requiring your renter to follow them, you can better protect yourself and your property from potential legal issues. The same thing is true for pet behavior. In your lease, be sure to specify any restrictions on the behaviors of pets, such as excessive barking, allowing pets outside or off leash, or other potentially problematic behaviors. Outline clear consequences for violations of these and all requirements to help enforce your lease more easily.

Handling Complaints

Even though your renter might love their pets, the neighbors could be less pleased to have them there. Pet complaints can be difficult to handle because common complaints, such as too much barking or pets roaming unleashed, are not things that the rental property owner has direct control over. You can set clear expectations with your renter about properly securing and leashing their pet and taking steps to keep their pet from creating excessive noise. Then, make a plan to handle repeated complaints, such as a system to issue warnings before going straight to breach of contract. This tactic may motivate your renter to be a more responsible pet owner.

Consequences for Violations

Even though setting clear expectations can help lower the likelihood of renters abusing your pet policy, they may still violate it anyway. One of the more common things renters will try is to sneak additional pets onto the property so they don’t have to pay the additional fees. Unauthorized pets are always a concern for landlords, whether you allow pets or not. Suppose your renter has too many pets, has an unauthorized species or breed, or otherwise violated your pet policy. In that case, you should document the situation carefully and notify the renter of the violation. If your state laws allow it, you could even include a fine for pet policy violations in your lease, which may offer an even stronger incentive for your renter to abide by the terms of their lease. Depending on the number and severity of the violation, you should then take the appropriate action.

Allowing pets in your rental property can boost your profits and tenant relations. However, you need to have a clear and detailed pet policy to help you establish and manage your tenant’s expectations right from the early stage. If you need some expert guidance and advice on the topic of allowing pets, why not give the Real Property Management Valor Team a call? We can help you outline your rental policies in high-quality rental documents,  check your property regularly for hidden pets or other lease violations, and more! Contact us online or reach us at 440-534-6700.

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