Landlords, Pay Attention: The Benefits Of Pet-Friendly Rental Homes

Though many of us love pets, from a property owner’s perspective, they’re not always the ideal housemates: They chew, they may track in dirt and debris, they scratch… In short, for all that they provide pleasant company, they can be destructive. This has led to a widespread “ban” on pets in most rental housing complexes… And for savvy landlords, therein lies a hidden opportunity.

 

The Advantages Of Allowing Pets In Rental Property

Landlords are business owners, and as such, it should be their primary aim to appeal to the largest possible market. As nearly half of all renters own a pet, according to research conducted by the American Veterinary Association, pet owners represent a substantial—and largely untapped—market for landlords. If you’re not convinced that the pros of going “pet-friendly” outweigh the cons, check out the list of pet-friendly property advantages for landlords below:

Lower rates of “tenant turnover”: It’s not uncommon for pet-loving people to rent a non-pet-friendly property only temporarily, either until they get “found out” while keeping a pet regardless of the rules and are made to choose between keeping their pet or their property (at which point nearly all of them choose to keep their pet, not their house or apartment) or until they can find a vacant pet-friendly property to move to instead, eliminating the fear of being discovered. As revealed by a 2005 Firepaw study, this means that tenants habitually stay much longer in pet-friendly properties, even if it means paying higher rent. This, of course, results in a much more stable income stream for landlords.

Lower rates of vacancy. For a landlord, nothing is worse than a bunch of empty properties sitting around, consuming resources while taking in no profit (and while acting as a lure for vandalism and other criminal activity). Fortunately, there’s a way to combat vacancy: According to the Firepaw study mentioned above, the vacancy rate for pet-friendly housing tends to be far lower than the rate for pet-barred housing. Pet-friendly properties are typically snapped up quickly by eager renters, even if the landlord doesn’t invest substantially in marketing said properties—the demand for pet-friendly housing is simply that high.

Pet owners tend to be better tenants. While this may seem counter-intuitive, take a moment to think about the kind of people that typically own pets: They tend to be more responsible, more empathetic, more financially stable, and more “family oriented” than non-pet-owners. In short, they usually have the maturity and dedication needed to be a good renter.

 
Pet-Friendly Properties: How To Mitigate The Risks Of Going “Pet-Friendly”

While the above-described advantages of going pet-friendly are very real (and supported by hard data), there are of course still risks to keep in mind: Pets can be destructive, after all, in addition to sometimes being noisy. As such, if you decide to go pet-friendly, you will need to take a few measures to counterbalance the risk of property damage and tenant discomfort:

Charge a higher monthly rental rate for your pet-friendly properties and ask for a larger security deposit from pet-owning renters. This will help to cover the cost of any additional repairs you need to make to the property; just make sure to research what other pet-friendly landlords are charging so as not to accidentally price yourself out of the market.

Establish sensible guidelines and boundaries. You won’t, for example, want someone cramming four big noisy dogs into one small apartment—it’s bad for both the property and the animals in question. You should therefore be sure to draft up some ground rules for pet owners, such as placing a limit on how many animals may be kept in the various different-sized properties you offer (and how large they may be). It’s also a good idea to require that renters’ pets be spayed or neutered (both to control animal numbers in and around your properties and to reduce destructive hormonal behavior) and you should make sure that renters’ pets are all up to date in their vaccinations.

As a final note, if you’re looking to make the most of the pet-owning market, it’s not a bad idea to install a few additional pet-friendly features in and around your properties, such as “doggie doors” and patches of natural grass. These additions will draw in a greater number of pet-owning tenants, many of whom will probably be willing to pay more for such extra conveniences.