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Landlords: Renting your home to tenants with pets

Landlords: Five Things to Consider before Renting to Tenants with Pets

Should you rent your home to someone with pets? The answer depends on several different factors – whether you’re an animal lover or not. As a property owner, you need to think about everything from the impact on your home value to legal liability issues. Think about pets and the possibilities before you list your home for rent, and you’ll be better equipped to choose the best tenant for your property.

Define “pets”: To you, a pet may be a cat or small dog…but your prospective tenant may have different ideas. From huge, threatening dogs to loud Macaws -- or even snakes that get lost in the home (only to turn up long after the owner moves out), your tenant may have very different ideas of what constitutes a pet. Make sure you clearly define what kinds of pets are acceptable, and which ones are not before you sign the lease.

Limit the number of pets: One cat likely won’t do much damage; however, 20 of them likely will. Once you’ve determined what pets are acceptable to you, think about the maximum number you’ll allow on the property. You should write the tenant’s pets into the lease if possible, and list what animals are included by name and description.

Expect more wear and tear: Pets can damage your property, or cause extra cleaning concerns when your tenant moves out. You can offset this cost by having a pet fee, or asking for an additional pet security deposit to hold against damage to carpets, fences, walls and more.

Inside or outside? If your prospective tenant has a dog, do you have a fence? Will the dog be walked? And will the tenant clean up after the dog? If you are renting a home in a gated community, you can be hit with substantial fines if your tenant doesn’t restrain their pet and clean up after him properly. Even outdoor cats can be seen as a nuisance, and as the home owner, you may be responsible for POA fees or fines if there is a problem.

Liability: If your tenant’s dog bites someone, who is responsible? Any dog can bite, so restricting certain breeds won’t help you if there is an incident. While the dog owner may be responsible for that dog’s actions, if the bite occurs on your property, you could be sued as well. Seek legal counsel before you rent your home if you are concerned about this possibility.

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