For many people, pets are part of the family. In Colorado, we have some of the highest pet ownership rates in the country. What does this mean to you? It means that most of your prospective tenants will want to move into your home with at least one pet. You’ll need to decide whether you want to allow those pets in your property.
Weighing the Risk of Pet Damage
Most of the owners who don’t want to allow pets in their rental properties are afraid of the damage that pets can potentially do. We understand this concern, but we’ve been managing Denver rental properties for a long time, and we can tell you that pets rarely trash properties. People are more likely to do damage to your home, so a strict screening process can be a lot more valuable than a no-pet policy.
We’ve found that people who love and take good care of their animals are often some of the best tenants. We recommend that you consider allowing pets in your property. If you don’t allow pets, you’ll face a longer vacancy period.
Screen Pets like You Screen Tenants
Allowing pets is a major plus when you’re looking for tenants. But, you don’t have to allow every pet. You can have some restrictions in place, such as dog breeds. Many insurance companies won’t cover dogs that are considered to be aggressive breeds. So, talk to your insurance agent and consider which breeds you’ll allow. It’s also fine to accept adult cats and dogs only. Puppies and kittens might be more likely to scratch at walls, chew on appliances, and leave messes that are hard to remove.
When you’re conducting rental reference checks, ask former landlords how the tenant’s pet behaved and whether there was any damage. Ask to meet the pet so you can get an idea of its temperament. You can ask for vet records as well that demonstrate the animal is up to date on all its vaccinations.
Service and Emotional Support Animals
We’re seeing rising rates of service animals and emotional support animals. It’s extremely important that you know how to handle these. They are not considered pets in the eyes of the law. A service animal or an emotional support animal is seen as an accommodation that you must make in accordance with the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. So, even if you have a strict no-pet policy, you cannot deny a qualified tenant who has a service or support animal. You also cannot charge a pet deposit or a pet fee on a service or support animal. You cannot charge pet rent and you cannot restrict breed, size, or age.
This is an area of the law that is constantly changing, so if you’re not familiar with fair housing laws as they apply to service and support animals, get help from a professional property manager so you don’t put yourself at risk for a lawsuit.
We think allowing pets into your rental property is a good idea. If you have questions about how to protect your home and develop a responsible pet policy, contact us at Walters & Company Property Management.