I rarely ever have to use a pet agreement for rental properties as there are very few situations where I allow pets. Now, I am not anti-pet. In fact, I have a dog, had multiple cats, fish, chickens and we have a horse. But, in a rental property, pets come with their own set of issues. I will take them only in single family houses as multi-units (like duplexes and larger) can create issues if the dog is home alone all day barking and the neighboring unit’s tenants work from home! Here are some tips and tricks on how to craft a pet agreement for rental property:
- In your main lease, specify no pets without prior written permission. Without this explicit section, a tenant can have a pet and as many as they want.
- Construct a written pet agreement. Don’t just give verbal approval.
- In the pet agreement for rentals, specify the type, size, color and name of the pet. This prevents the tenant from getting rid of the chihuahua and replacing it with a Great Dane. Place this line in your pet agreement: “Tenant is not authorized to replace a pet listed on this agreement with a different pet without prior written acceptance of Landlord and the execution of an updated Pet Agreement.”
- Specify no aggressive breeds of dogs. I am not going to argue with the Pit Bull lovers that their dog is the sweetest thing. It might be, but generally these types of dogs can be aggressive. Plus, your insurance may not cover you if you allowed this type of breed and their was a claim against you.
- Always specify a weight limit of the pet. I have an 85 pound dog. He beats up the floors much more than a 20 pound dog would. This would also often prevent aggressive breeds as they are usually much heavier.
- If you have hardwood floors, think twice about allowing a dog. They will scratch your floors no matter how tame they are.
- Require that the tenant does not tie the dog up outside in the yard. Nothing worse than a dog that barks at every passing car.
- Prior to signing the pet agreement, have the tenant supply copies of the pets vaccinations.
- As much as puppies and kittens are cute and cuddly, they need to be house trained. Do you really want them doing that on your floors?
- Make sure to take a pet deposit. Consider making part of it non-refundable as pets will do more “normal wear and tear” than humans and could be used to clean carpets.
- Many owners will also tack on an additional pet fee. $20-30 is pretty typical. Again, this is to offset the cost of additional wear and tear on the house.
Lastly, your pet agreement should specify multiple times that his is a conditional privilege for the tenant. Adding this line to your agreement, at the minimum, should cover it: “Tenant(s) agree(s) that the management reserves the right to revoke permission to keep the pet, should the tenant break any of the Rules listed in this agreement.” This is not like a lease where you would have to evict them for violating the lease provisions. The pet has no rights.
Allowing pets may be a necessity in certain types of homes (single family higher-end homes) and it may help you rent a place faster since many pet owners understand that there are fewer options. But, make sure you understand what you are getting into and have a pet agreement in place right away to handle any issues.