Most Landlords are not open to the idea of renting to tenants with pets. To be honest, this is understandable because I have seen situations where tenants have allowed their pets to cause considerable damage. When faced with the issue of pets, property managers and/or landlords need to use a logical approach. Saying “NO” to a pet right away can lead to illegal pets or possibly missing a good tenant.

The Application

Whether or not a landlord allows a pet, it is always advisable to have an area on your rental application for disclosing pets. It is important to obtain as much information on the prospective tenant, particularly if you want to determine whether they do have or do not have pets. If another landlord reveals that the applicant has a pet, this becomes solid grounds for refusing the applicant.

Consider Pets Negotiable

If you are saying “NO” to all animals, consider saying “PETS NEGOTIABLE”. The problem is stating a definite “NO” is the prospective tenant may be the right person for the property. When you say “NEGOTIABLE”, it allows the landlord to select a tenant who has an appropriate pet or just decline the applicant. Well-qualified applicants generally extend the care for their pets to caring for the property. It would be better to have them list their pets, examine the information, and then make an informed decision.

Do Pets Work in The Property?

This is a logical step to consider. Obviously, a townhouse with a postage stamp backyard generally is not suitable for a German Shepherd, Springer Spaniel, or a Great Dane. The perspective tenants may tell you their pet is perfectly behaved and has always lived in an apartment, common sense must be used when renting to someone with a pet. Some pets are suitable for certain properties and some are not. We discuss these issues with a property owner and set parameters up front.

Avoid Some Animals

There are pets to avoid and mostly this comes down to “dangerous and destructive”. Any animal that is vicious or dangerous, large or small, can be a problem. Good tenant screening often takes care of this problem. It is a good idea to have a list of “unwanted” pets that are completely unacceptable. Insurance companies often carry a “dangerous pet” list and you can check with your provider on what animals they could have listed and could cause problems with claims. It is also important to determine what defines a pet and if it meets the requirements of the zoning laws for the property.

Service Animals are NOT Pets

Always remember that if a person is handicapped and they have an authorized service animal, they are NOT pets. You can screen handicapped persons just like any other applicant, but you cannot turn them down just because they have a service animal. Generally, most service animals are fully trained and well behaved. It must be the rental history, not the service animal, that determines whether to accept or deny the applicant.

Additionally, under Federal Fair Housing, you cannot charge any amount of deposit for a service animal. It is illegal and Landlords can incur serious fines and damages if they charge the handicapped for a “pet”.

The Bottom Line

When you are in doubt concerning pets, use common sense and proceed with caution. Discuss your questions and concerns with us and we can assist you on the subject of pets. Then, if you feel you still want to say “NO” to a pet, you can.

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