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The Rental Application For Pet Owners and Approval Process For Landlords

Allowing pets in your rental will increase your ability to attract renters, specifically those who enjoy their animal companions. Responsible pet owners can be lovely tenants, but unfortunately, every landlord has heard of (or experienced) nightmare renters with pets. While banning pets in your rental is always an option, there's the risk that tenants will break the rules and bring a pet into the home anyway without permission.

Instead of banning pets altogether in your rentals, consider these smart leasing options to help you create an appealing and secure rental application for pet owners.

Pet deposit, pet fee or pet rent?

Before creating a rental application for pet owners, decide how you would like to charge a fee for tenants that have them. A pet deposit is like an additional security deposit, asking the tenant to pay in the event of damages. The deposit would be refunded once the tenant moves out if there are no damages from pets.

A pet fee is quite common in a rental application for pet owners, used for tasks like cleaning carpets after the tenant moves out. This fee is paid upfront to cover known cleaning or maintenance costs once the tenant leaves the home.

Finally, there's an option for pet rent. It’s common for landlords to charge an additional monthly fee, usually $50-$100, to cover potential damages and wear and tear caused by any pet occupying the home. Some people prefer pet rent to a signing fee because it lowers the cost entry for move-in.

Pet agreement

Once you've decided on your fee structure, create the rules for your pet agreement. A pet agreement covers the rules of occupancy for a tenant and any associated animals. It should contain the following items:

  • Cost: Include any of the associated charges listed above.
  • Number of Pets Allowed: Detail whether you’ll place a limit on total pets accepted. 
  • Acceptable Animal Types: Do you want to allow cats only, or allow dogs, hamsters, fish in aquariums, etc.? Do you plan to restrict certain types of animals like large snakes or exotic dog breeds? What about birds?
  • Weight Limits: Many upstairs units can carry sound easily to those below. If you have noise concerns, limiting the weight of pets may help reduce disturbances.
  • Temperament Checks: Some landlords like to meet dogs or cats in person to assure they won’t act aggressively toward others.
  • Responsible Ownership: Responsible owners should have their pets licensed, registered and vaccinated, according to local laws. You can ask for proof of their pet care and status before approving a pet for move-in.
  • Proof of Renter's Liability:  The actions of any pet should not be the sole responsibility of the landlord. You can require proof of renter's insurance against pet damage or injury when processing new applications.
  • Breed restrictions: This is a controversial section on many pet agreements. The idea is to restrict occupancy of certain breeds, typically canine, that are considered more aggressive than others. Check if your city or county has any legal restrictions on dog breeds. Then, check with your property’s insurance company to verify if the policy has any additional limitations. If there are no breed barriers, the choice is up to you. The ASPCA argues strongly against restricting dogs based on breed, arguing that "there is no evidence that breed-specific laws make communities safer for people or companion animals."

Service animals are not pets

Finally, remember that pet applications and rules for a pet owner's rental application don't apply to official service animals. Service dogs, therapy dogs and emotional support dogs follow slightly different rules. The idea is that these pets provide supportive services to residents in need. Official service dogs are specifically legislated under the Americans with Disabilities Act, while others are not. Check with your tenant to understand their support companion needs before processing their application.

Accepting pets in your rentals can help attract quality tenants. Before allowing pets into your rental home, make sure you understand how pet occupancy works and what your liabilities cover. There are various ways you can protect both yourself and your residents by having a secure rental application for pet owners to create a happy, animal-friendly rental home.

Categories: Landlords

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About the Author
Steffi Cook

Steffi Cook is the head of content for Rentals.com. When she’s not writing or editing, you can find her on the tennis court, hiking in the mountains or trying a new restaurant.