Pets are cute and sweet and they make great companions, but are they really all that beneficial to your rental property? After all, they can be messy. They can shed. They can scratch at floors and dig up gardens and try to bite the neighbors.
It’s true that allowing pets into your rental property can be risky. However, in our experience managing properties in Boston, we have found that the benefits of allowing pets far outweigh the risks, especially when you have a great pet policy in place.
Here are some of the benefits to being a pet-friendly landlord in Boston, and how you can protect yourself against the threat of pet damage.
Pet-Friendly Boston Rental Homes are More Attractive to Tenants
There are a few things that nearly every tenant looks for in a rental home:
- A fair price
- A good location
- A well-maintained home
Tenants want to be safe and comfortable when they rent a home.
Tenants with pets want their animals to be safe and comfortable, too.
When you offer a pet-friendly property, or you say in your listing that you’re willing to consider pets, you’re going to attract a larger pool of potential applicants.
It’s a numbers game. Statistics show that more than 60 percent of renters have at least one pet. So, if you refuse to even consider pets, you’re eliminating more than half of your tenant pool. That’s potentially going to lead to a longer vacancy time.
You don’t have to allow every pet. In your listing, say that pets will be considered. That signals to pet owners that they should come and see your property. But, it doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to allow five Pit Bull puppies to move into your one-bedroom rental property.
Allowing pets will speed up your leasing time. You’ll find a tenant faster. But, the benefits go even further. You’ll also:
- Attract good tenants. Renters with pets typically understand that not every home is going to welcome them. Good pet owners are usually good tenants. They take care of their pets and they take care of your property.
- Increase your retention rate. Again – pet owners know that finding a new home would only be a hassle. There’s likely to be another pet fee or deposit to pay. If they like where you’re living and they can keep their pets happy, your tenants are likely to renew the lease agreement at the end of the tenancy, protecting you from vacancy and turnover costs.
Your pet-friendly policies will attract a wider range of tenants and allow you to rent your property quickly.
Pet-Friendly Landlords Earn More in Rent
Allowing pets means you can charge a pet fee. This is a non-refundable fee that tenants will have to pay per pet before they move into your property. It protects you against the potential for pet damage, and if there is no pet damage, you still keep that fee.
There’s also pet rent, which many landlords collect. Pet rent is just like human rent – there’s a specific amount of money that will be paid for each pet living in the property. Maybe it’s $25 per pet or $50 per pet. Whatever you charge, you’ve increased your monthly rental value simply by allowing pets into your property.
Some landlords will collect a pet deposit instead of a fee. This is another option, and there are pros and cons to it. A pet deposit is refundable. You have to give the money back to the tenant when they move out unless there was pet damage that you had to repair. Many landlords see this as an incentive to tenants with pets. If they believe they will get their deposit back at the end of the lease term, they’ll be proactive about ensuring the pets do not cause any damage.
You could do a pet deposit, but the pet fee not only covers potential costs…it also gives you some extra cash flow if the money isn’t used. We’ve seen pet fees up to $500 per pet. Most landlords will charge $200 or $300 per pet.
Pet-Friendly Homes Avoid Lease Violations
Here’s something we’ve seen other landlords and Boston property managers run into:
The property does not allow pets, but a tenant decides to get a pet during the lease term. Now what?
The tenant likely won’t tell the landlord that they now own a dog or cat. Instead, they’ll sneak the animal into the property and hope that it isn’t noticed.
That’s a violation of the lease agreement, and if you do detect the pet and you have to tell your tenant to remove the pet, you could find yourself in a sticky and emotional situation. You might even have to evict the tenant if you refuse to allow the pet to stay and the tenant refuses to come into compliance with the lease agreement.
By allowing pets, you can screen the pet, monitor the pet, and make sure your tenant is following your pet policy.
Protect Your Boston Rental with a Strong Pet Policy
A good pet policy will protect your investment property and tell tenants what you expect in terms of behavior, maintenance, and cleanliness. Establish limits and guidelines in your pet policy as well.
Maybe you want to have a maximum of one pet per property. Or, you can allow two pets; one dog and one cat or two dogs. These are reasonable restrictions and they still allow you to earn more on your property.
Check your insurance policy as well because you may need to have some breed restrictions for dogs. Pit Bulls, for example, are on nearly every list of restricted breeds. If something happens at your property involving a Pit Bull, your insurance company may not cover you. Your pet policy should let your applicants know what kind of dogs are and are not allowed.
Don’t forget that service animals and companion animals are different than pets. We’ve written about this before, so check out that blog.
If you have any questions or need any help from a Boston property manager, please contact us at Platinum Realty Group.