There are a lot of people who have pets, and they want to keep the pets, even when they move into your rental home. The question of whether to allow pets comes up for landlords all the time. Some houses are laid out perfectly for pets, but most are not. I think there is no question that pets will shorten the life of some of your systems, such as paints and carpets. People who tell you they only keep their dogs outside are probably not telling you the truth. One of the reason we have dogs is because we love them and we want them in our lives.

So, you always have to consider the risks versus the benefits. State Farm Insurance Company has a great ad out talking about how one-third of their liability claims come from dog bites. I don’t know if that data is correct, but it would not surprise me. So, you need to know that if there is a dog bite issue on your property, the responsibility will not be only with the tenant. Any time there is a lawsuit, lawyers will always go and look for another deep pocket, so you will likely be involved whether you want to be or not.

Many landlords ask if they can get more money by allowing pets. You can increase the rent. Some people get $100 to $200 per month extra for certain pets. Other landlords increase the amount of the deposit, but I strongly recommend increased rent instead of a larger deposit. A deposit will only be argued about later. With additional rent, you will have that money in your pocket every month with no argument or discussions. If you can get a little extra each month, it will help you pay to get the carpets redone if necessary and take care of other expenses. Don’t think this is all just profit; you will use that extra rent on the additional repairs and maintenance that may be necessary due to animals.

Know your breeds. There are several breeds I would not advise you to permit. For example, know the breed Staffordshire Terrier. This is the type of dog people might tell you they have because it sounds harmless, but it’s actually a Pit Bull. There are a total of seven breeds that most insurance companies will not allow you to have on your property. Know what those breeds are, and take them into consideration when drafting a pet policy. Don’t let your tenants bring any animal they want into your house. Do screening the same way you would with your tenants – ask for pet references.

If you have any questions about how to handle potential pet liability, please contact us at Aborn Properties.