There are many landlords who let their tenants keep pets. They do this out of love for pets, or to achieve lower tenant turnover (pet owners of course have fewer options). But remember, there can be risk is allowing pets. There can be pet-induced injuries or property damages. So it is best to have pet policies.
Importance of Pet Policies
You will be able to bring down the risk with a smart pet policy and should put them in a pet agreement in the lease. Tenants will then know that continued tenancy is going to depend on honoring the rules. Tenants should all sign this agreement, and this includes even those who don’t have a pet at this time. Having pet policies in the lease and making them sign it keeps you safe, should any tenant get a pet later.
Common Provisions to be Included in the Pet Agreement
Policy 1: The type of pets to be allowed
The agreement should mention specifically the kind of pets that are allowed. Some landlords let their tenants keep common domesticated pets like birds, cats, dogs, rabbits, hamsters, fish, and small reptiles. There are those who however don’t allow dog breeds that are deemed dangerous such as Rottweilers and pit bulls because they have a reputation to turn violent. Landlords can legally disallow them. The fair housing laws are applicable only for humans.
There are landlords who also impose restrictions on the number of pets and their weight. For instance, dogs below 20 pounds might only be allowed. Plus, make sure that the agreement only allows the tenants pet, and not the pets of their family or friends. Surely, you don’t want to turn your home into a zoo.
Policy 2: Tenants must first get your approval
In your pet policies, make it mandatory for you to first approve before any pet can be kept. You can forego this for some pet types that you think cannot cause problems, like goldfish for example. But before approving, always ask these questions,
- For how long has your tenant kept this pet?
- From where is the tenant getting this pet (if it is not yet owned)?
- Whether there has been any property damage because of the pet?
- Who is going to look after this pet when the tenant is not at home?
Make it clear that it is a conditional approval depending on continued compliance.
Policy 3: There should be proper vaccinations, licenses and identification
Your pet policies should make it mandatory for all cats and dogs to wear tags or identification collars, and there should be proof of current vaccinations. Tenants must also provide you current proof of all vaccinations carried out, pet’s bill, and the municipal license receipt.
Policy 4: Tenants should be responsible for the pets
Make the tenants agree to keep their pets under their control always to make sure that they shouldn’t bother guests or other tenants. They should clean after their pets, both the interior of their home and the common areas. The pets shouldn’t be left unsupervised or outdoors for too long.