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Landlords: Renting your home to tenants with pets

Landlords: Animal Policies Reduce Landlord Risk for Pet-Friendly Rentals

Pet owners are not a protected group under federal fair housing laws. As a landlord, you don’t have to rent to people who have pets.

However, in areas where rentals outnumber renters, it may be to your advantage to create animal-friendly policies. Real estate listings for rentals that allow pets attract more renters.

MSN Real Estate reports that according to the animal rights organization FIREPAW (Foundation for Interdisciplinary Research and Education Promoting Animal Welfare), the vacancy rate of rental properties with pet-friendly leasing rules is 4 percent lower than that of non-pet facilities. A FIREPAW survey found that instead of losing money, landlords gained about $3,000 extra per apartment yearly due to higher occupancy.

Pet Agreements. Yet you need to incorporate pet agreements in leases to reduce risk, the NOLO law website says. It suggests “smart pet policies,” such as specifying what kinds of pets are allowed and how many a tenant may have. These policies need to contain requirements about care of pets, such as:
• Providing proper identification (tags), vaccinations and licensing
• Not leaving pets outdoors or unsupervised indoors for a certain period of time and
• Keeping pets in appropriate contained areas, such as terrariums for reptiles.

NOLO notes that some pet-friendly property owners ban certain breeds of dogs perceived to be violent. They may also include rules in a lease stating that tenants can’t house friends’ pets, even on a temporary basis.

Further Risk Reduction. Other good ideas for reducing risk include requiring pet owners to maintain renter’s liability insurance to protect against harm to other tenants and, in states where it is legal, charging a pet fee for wear and tear to property. NOLO warns that to avoid discriminating against the disabled, tenants who need service animals shouldn’t have to pay this fee.

Finally, give yourself a little wiggle room in your pet policy by including language stating that you have the right to amend the policy and specifying a reasonable amount of notice, such as 30 days.

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