With a summer holiday just around the corner, landlords may see a rise in pet noise complaints.
Holidays can creep up on all of us, including tenants who didn’t plan ahead and reserve a spot at the boarding facility. Tenants who remain in town still may spend longer hours out perusing festivals and enjoying the good weather while their pets remain at home.
Fact is, the most popular vacation times also are the worst for pet problems. Tenants don’t always make the right choices. A recent example is an Ontario, Canada couple who locked their puppy in the bathroom when they went on vacation. They intended to be out of town for two weeks.
These hassles may discourage landlords from accepting pets in apartments. Yet, there are some reliable benefits to allowing pets. Generally speaking, pet owners are more responsible tenants — present examples excluded — and pet-friendly policies do tend to increase tenant retention, which leads to healthy profits.
No doubt, there are some risks associated with pets in rental properties, and landlords do need to stay in control. By planning ahead, many of those liabilities can be tamed.
Screen Tenants, Not Just Pets
As is so often the case in the rental business, careful tenant screening is the key to a successful pet policy. Unfortunately, it’s a common practice to focus on screening the animal. Policies that limit the size or number of pets generally are not successful. Same is true of breed restrictions, with the exception that some local ordinances may prohibit certain breeds or types of pets. It is important to know if the animal has vicious propensities. But beyond that, it is difficult to spot a bad pet. Even the kindest animal can cause noise or property damage if not handled responsibly. That’s why the first step is to screen the tenant, and then the pet.
Visit our previous blog post, How to Screen Tenants With Pets for a list of appropriate questions to ask incoming tenants with pets, including “What will you do when you go on vacation?”
Educate Tenants About Pet Policies
Landlords can stave off many pet complaints simply by educating incoming tenants on what is expected. For instance, let dog owners know at what point uncontrolled barking is crossing the line. Is it 15 minutes? An hour a day? Set out where dogs can walk or run, and mandate tenants clean up after their pets. Describe the consequences if they don’t.
Your local humane society or animal control ordinances can serve as a guide for your pet policies.
When tenants know the rules, they are more likely to try to follow them.
Motivate Tenants to Report Pets
Let tenants know it’s important to list pets in the rental application. It is important to know which pet belongs to which tenant, and to ferret out any unauthorized pets.
If you are worried about tenants hiding pets in order to avoid paying a deposit or because of a no-pets policy, consider this motivator: Undisclosed pets may not be rescued in the case of an emergency. Also, workers going to the property may inadvertently frighten the pet.
Encourage applicants and tenants to report when they are keeping pets. When running tenant background checks, ask the previous landlord if the person had a pet at that time, and find out if there were any specific problems.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.