7 Points to Consider When Changing a Pet Policy Throughout the Apartment Lease

by Muriel Vega | Updated: Jun 6, 2023

Tailor your complex's pet policy to your apartment lease needs

As a property manager, you must stay competitive in the rental market and offer perks to attract and retain renters. One of the most popular ones is including a pet-friendly policy in your apartment lease, offering an apartment that allows pets. However, pets can cause serious damage to the property if there are no restrictions for their owners.

Make sure you're protected in case something goes awry, and there's a clear path for you and the renter to resolve the issue. Your lease should incorporate a pet agreement clause that lets tenants know the parameters they need to follow to stay in the unit.

Here are a few things to remember when structuring a pet policy in your standard apartment lease.

1. Make non-pet owners sign the pet agreement on their apartment lease

Everyone, including non-pet owners, should be required to sign the pet agreement clause included in the lease. Think of the pet agreement as just another requirement for living in the complex. If a current tenant decides to get a pet later, they already know the rules, and there are no surprises about what's required of them.

2. Identify what pets are allowed and how many

As a landlord, you can limit the kind of animals allowed on your property, as tenants could have any variety of them beyond the common dog or cat. The pet agreement should clarify what kind of pet is allowed in the apartment, from birds, fish, guinea pigs and reptiles to hamsters and rabbits. Not all pets are good for apartment life.

The number of pets, total weight limit and dog breed restrictions should also be listed. Typical dog breeds that are often restricted are pitbulls and rottweilers. While controversial, your insurance company can clarify further if you need to restrict certain breeds to avoid liability.

3. Charge a non-refundable pet fee

Charging a fee for a pet-friendly apartment is a common practice, but what kind of fee depends on your complex. A pet deposit is charged at the beginning of the lease, along with a security deposit, to cover any damages the pet may cause. You can choose whether it is or not refundable.

Pet rent, something more popular in recent years, can be on top of the pet deposit or, instead, charges a certain monthly fee along with rent for the pet to live in the apartment. You can combine both or just one option depending on your situation.

4. State clearly that you accept service dogs

Your complex may not have a pet-friendly policy, but it needs to clearly state that it allows service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act to live in the rental. Under the ADA, you may not charge a pet deposit or rent or restrict the type of animal the tenant has. This clause should also be stated under the lease agreement.

5. Require vaccinations and leashed-only rules

Under the pet agreement, add rules surrounding public areas in the apartment complex and keeping all dogs leashed in the apartment dog park. All animals accepted into the complex should have their vaccinations and tags up to date to make sure no health issues are running rampant in the complex. Make sure to include that up-to-date health records are required at lease signing.

6. Any pet policy change requires a 30-day notice

Whether you make a small change or revamp the whole pet policy, it's important to give a 30-day notice to your tenants before making any changes. Considering existing types of pets and budgets, you need to give them time to readjust, move out or provide further accommodations.

7. Removing your pet policy

Have you had back-to-back expensive damages surrounding a tenant's pet? Are you replacing carpets or hardwoods constantly due to pets? No matter how much you revamp or reconsider your pet policy's details, sometimes it just doesn't work out, and it's time to remove it.

Moving forward, you can let tenants know that all new leases will not allow pets in the building and that if they need this amenity to start looking for a new place to live.

Reconsidering your pet policy for the apartment lease

In the end, you have to consider whether adding a pet policy is suitable for your property. These are some of the biggest points to consider changing on your pet policy. It's beneficial for you and the tenant to know which rules to follow and how to keep the property in tip-top shape.

Categories: Landlords

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About the Author