When you decide to allow pets into your rental property, you’re opening up your tenant pool and reducing your risk of long vacancies. Most residents have at least one pet, and they wouldn’t dream of moving into a home without their beloved dog or cat.
With the opportunities that come with offering pet-friendly properties, there are also risks. That’s why it’s so important to have a consistent and comprehensive pet policy included in your lease agreement. The pet addendum should address expectations and responsibilities, and reflect any extra pet fees, deposits, or pet rent that will be collected.
Collecting Pet Fees and Pet Rent
To protect yourself against the extra damage that an animal can do to your rental property, it’s a good idea to collect a pet fee before the tenant moves in. Generally, pet fees are between $200 and $500 per pet. Fees are often better than deposits, because when you collect a deposit, you have to return any money to the tenant that isn’t required to repair the pet damage. A pet fee is nonrefundable, so you’ll be able to keep that money whether the pet causes little damage or a lot of damage.
Pet rent is also standard. It might mean an extra $25 or $30 per month, per pet. So, if you’re collecting $1,200 per month on your Dallas rental property, you could charge $1,225 for a tenant who is moving in with a pet. This increases your monthly rental income and protects you against the potential of pet damage.
Texas law allows you to charge both a pet fee and an additional pet rent. Make sure your lease agreement reflects these costs.
Identify the Pet Moving Into the Home
Your lease agreement should identify the pets moving into the home, just as it identifies all the human occupants of the property. Pets are often approved on a case-by-case basis. If you allow a tenant to move in with one adult cat, you don’t want them to feel like it’s okay to bring eight kittens into the property a month or two into the lease.
Make sure the lease agreement is specific to the animal. Include a photo and the pet’s name. Be specific about what happens when the pet is not living in the property any longer, and what the tenant needs to do to inform the owner or property manager.
The lease should also address the process of bringing a new pet into the home.
Tenant Responsibilities with Pets
Your lease should also include information on what you require your tenants to do when they have pets. You’ll want to address issues such as:
- Cleaning up after pets. If your rental property is in an apartment building or a multi-family community, your pet policy should require that owners remove pet waste from common areas.
- Tenant responsibility for any damage to the exterior or interior of the premises, grounds, flooring, walls, trim, finish, tiles, carpeting. The pet policy should hold tenants financially responsible for stains and odors due to the pet after move-out.
- Veterinary care. You want to be sure your tenants are taking care of their pets, keeping them in good health and up to date on all their vaccinations. Your pet policy should require that the animals are fed, clean, and not left alone in the property for unreasonable amounts of time.
Make sure your pet policy lists any dog breeds that are prohibited. Many insurance companies won’t provide coverage for dogs like Pit Bulls and Dobermans. You can also require that your tenants purchase extra renter’s insurance to cover any additional liability for their animals.
These are just a few of the things your lease agreement should include when you’re renting out a pet-friendly property. For more information about Dallas property management, contact us at McCaw Property Management.