Landlords are often unsure about whether they should allow pets in their property. They are concerned about damage and liability. However, a large number of qualified renters own at least one pet. That means if you don’t allow pets, you’re going to have a much smaller pool of potential tenants willing to rent your property. Today we’re talking about how you should protect yourself and your property if you decide to allow pets.
Include a pet agreement as part of your lease. This will provide the tenants with your requirements. The agreement should specify all the tenant’s responsibilities as related to the animal and you can also stipulate what types of pets are allowed. You can also charge a pet fee. This can be an upfront fee that is paid before they move in, or you can charge a pet rent every month.
Vaccines and Licenses
Before you agree to a pet, make sure the animal is licensed and vaccinated according to all local regulations. Include this requirement in your pet agreement so you know tenants understand. If your tenant has a dog, ask for a letter from the veterinarian to confirm it has been neutered or spayed. You also want something that documents the breed, age and weight. Make sure the dog has been vaccinated against rabies and distemper. If it’s a cat moving in, you’ll also want confirmation from a vet that the animal has been spayed or neutered. It should also be vaccinated against feline leukemia, rabies and distemper.
Many insurance companies will not cover aggressive dog breeds. We recommend that you don’t allow any full breed or mix of Boxers, Rottweilers, Dobermans, Chows, German Shepherds, Staffordshire Terriers (also known as Pit Bulls), American Bulldogs, Bull Mastiffs, Dalmatians, Akitas and Huskies. We know that many people own these types of dogs and they are gentle and well-behaved. However, these breeds can be unpredictable and it’s a good idea to avoid them.
Finally, when tenants give notice that they’ll be leaving at the end of a lease, make sure that they know the pets have to be kenneled or removed from the property when you are showing it to prospective new tenants.
The Realty Solutions Group is a property management company serving Alexandria and Northern VA. If you have any questions about pet policies, or you need help developing one of your own, please contact us and we’d be happy to tell you more.