When we discuss how landlords manage their pet policies in the San Diego area, the most important thing to consider is your ultimate goal. For most landlords and property owners, the primary goal is to keep your property occupied and maintained. In order to reach this goal, you have to consider that more than 60 percent of renters have at least one pet. This might be a dog, a cat or maybe one of each. If you decide to enforce a “no-pets” policy with your rental property, it means you are limiting your rental pool of potential tenants to 40 percent of the available population. This could result in a longer vacancy for your property.
Since your rental property is an investment, it is important to evaluate the risk and return of maintaining a no-pets policy, especially if it will result in a longer vacancy. If you rent out your property for $2,000 per month, and you have two weeks of additional vacancy because you cannot find a good tenant without a pet, it will cost you $1,000 in lost rent. You really have to think about whether that loss is worth a no-pets policy. What is the likelihood that a well screened applicant with a good pet, properly referenced of course, will result in more than $1,000 of damage caused by the pet? It’s not a high probability that the pet would ever cause as much damage as your lost rent.
When you do allow pets on your property, just make sure your tenants have renters insurance with additional liability if a dog is approved. At Walters Home Management, we require a minimum of $500,000 in liability insurance for dog owners. Remember that you have the right to deny dangerous breeds. We tend to disallow breeds such as Rottweilers, Pit Bulls, German Shepherds and the like. They are probably lovely dogs of those breeds that make good pets, but we evaluate the risk of having animals like that on our properties. Also, check your homeowners insurance policy. There may be specific breed restrictions included in your policy.
Consider meeting the pet yourself before you make a decision on the tenant and the animal. When someone considers filling out an application, invite that potential tenant back with the dog or cat. This might help alleviate some of your concerns and make you feel more comfortable about having a pet on your property.
Include a provision in your lease agreement that addresses the tenant’s responsibility for ensuring the pet is not a nuisance to the neighbors. This is especially important when it comes to barking dogs. Make sure your tenants understand that the landscaping must be kept in good order as well. This is especially important if you have a gardener who takes care of your lawn and landscaping. Make sure the tenants pick up after their pets on the day the gardener comes. You’ll have a much happier gardener!
At Walters Home Management, we have a specific program to help owners work through their concerns about having a pet in their rental homes. We call it a Preferred Pet Program and basically it requires a tenant to agree to an inspection every six months. This helps us and our owners make sure there is no damage to the property.
If you have any questions about pet policies or our Preferred Pet Program, please contact us at Walters Home Management.