Allowing your rental property to be pet friendly or not has been a topic of great debate amongst landlords.  Being pet friendly definitely has its benefits but it can also cause a great deal of trouble for you as a landlord.

Of course some properties allow themselves to be more pet friendly than others.  Having an apartment compared a garden cottage, this seems obvious.  But one should also remember that you get different kinds of pets, and as the landlord you are allowed to say some pets are better suite for your specific rental property compared to others pets.  For instance I would believe cats are perfectly acceptable for apartment living, dogs on the other hand may cause more problems.

So the question is, do you allow a pet friendly policy or not and how far in detail will this policy be stipulated.

I like to start with a pros and cons list when deciding if my rental property should be pet friendly.

The Pros of a Pet Friendly Policy

  • Pet friendly rental properties tends to charge a higher monthly rental. In Australia a pet friendly rental property usually goes for 7-14% more to a non pet friendly variation.
  • You can increase the rent as per-pet basis
  • You will advertise to a bigger pool of potential tenants.
  • Your property may rent fast, because of the larger pool of potential tenants. In America 72% of the rental market are pet owners.
  • Pet Owners tends to stay longer on a property, because their rental options are far less. In Australia pet owners tend to stay 48 months, whereas 18 months are the average for those with no pets.

The Cons of a Pet Friendly Policy

  • The landlord may not be able to enter the rental property as easily in the case of an emergency, especially if the animal is dangerous
  • There is an increased liability to the landlord if the pet bites someone.
  • The pet may be a nuisance to its surroundings, causing you an earful of complaints as a landlord
  • Pet Owners may not clean up after their pets
  • Pet odors can be difficult to get rid off
  • Your tenants and his pet can cause far more damages than what the deposit can cover.

As I said before, some rental properties are better suite for certain pets as opposed to others, but lets continue for the sake of this article that we are happy pet friendly landlords.  How do we manage this and what do we stipulate to be the terms of our pet friendly rental policy.

1. Type of pet

You as a landlord will be fully in your rights to state that you only allow a certain type of animal, a dog, fish, bird or cat.  Each animal has their own unique requirements, you as landlord should be able to decide whether your rental property is suited for a dog or a cat with a sandbox.

2. Size of pet

Let say you as landlord have decided your rental property is open to a dog friendly pet policy, you can also dictate the size of the animal.  Will your pet friendly policy welcome small, medium and large dogs or only small dogs.  In Europe and America is has become an accepted practice to have large dogs in apartments, their owners walk their dogs often more than once a day, but we are not in Europe or America.  You as landlord will have to decide if your potential tenants seems responsible enough to handle a pet that is perhaps not best suited for your rental policy.

As a pet lover I always try and make it as welcoming as possible for my tenants to have their own pets, however you often has to put the matters of the hart aside and consider the practical implications.  It would be recommended to allow pets, but specific pets that fits the size and placement of the rental property.

3. Spay/Neuter Clause

This is one of those absolute MUST.  All pet owners should get their pets “fixed”, this is to prevent several unwanted issues and simply just to be a responsible pet owner. Firstly, fixed animals tends to be less aggressive.  Secondly they also tend to have less of a “wandering” tendency. Thirdly they tend to mark your rental property far less. And personally, because you don’t want unwanted pregnancies.

…and simply just to be a responsible pet owner

4. Number of pets

I do recommend you put this bit in your pet friendly policy as well, how many pets will your rental property allow.  You don’t want to create an environment where it is ok to start a breeding house of puppies/kittens.  I always say that everyone needs a friend, but the important part is it’s a friend – meaning one extra.

I would however recommend, no matter what type of Pet friendly policy you are comfortable with, that you invest in pet insurance.  Pet Insurance tends to be on the cheap side, and it can save you from a massive law suite if your tenants pets did bite someone on your rental property.

You should also go read any Body Corporate documentation if your rental property isn’t a loose standing property.  Many BC’s have separate rules for owners and renters.  Be sure you understand them, before expecting your tenants to do.

Pets generally improve the conditions of our lives, I ask that you as a landlord make that possible for your tenant.  Allow them their pets, charge a bit more but make the rules very clear.  You will be surprise, most pet owners are more responsible and most will do what’s needed to ensure their baby can come with them. Consider the matter on case-by case basis, every pet and owner are different.

Don’t allow a housing issue to be the end of a furry live.


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Written by Lizl Brink, Lizl is copywriter and designer based in Johannesburg, she is also a frequent contributor to the Mafadi blog, and as an Urban investor and rejuvenation shares a passion for urban regeneration, go check out her personal portfolio here
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