Pets or no pets? That’s a question every landlord must consider.
Each policy has its own unique benefits, and neither option is without problems.
Pros and Cons of No Pet Policies
Pros: A no pets policy pleases many tenants, especially those whose schedules don’t accommodate barking dogs, those with fears or phobias about animals, and current or future tenants who may suffer from pet allergies.
Having no pets on the premises may reduce the risk of damage to the property, eliminate arguments over pet waste, and cut down on disputes between tenants. It also eliminates the rare but serious risk that an animal will attack and the landlord could be held liable for having allowed the pet.
Cons: Pets are popular, and a no pets policy can limit the pool of available applicants. That can lead to longer vacancies, and income loss.
A no pets policy requires diligent enforcement. Every violation must be prosecuted the same way, or the landlord appears to be discriminating. Lack of action may be interpreted as having abandoned the policy.
A no pets policy doesn’t anticipate the situation where a tenant brings in a pet after leasing. A landlord may not be able to evict the tenant who violates the policy. For instance, in Ontario, a landlord may not be able to evict a tenant for a no pets violation unless the animal is actually causing harm. Sometimes arbiters or judges do not agree that violating the pet policy is a serious breach of the lease agreement. As a result, the pet remains, with no rules regarding its conduct.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Allowing Pets
Pros: By anticipating pets in the unit, a landlord can prepare the property to minimize foreseeable damage — like lifting carpets, installing door protectors, or designating a dog walking area.
A pets policy can set forth limits on pets and pet behaviours.
Accommodating pets is known to increase tenant retention.
Cons: Sometimes animals cause damage, and the security deposit may not be enough to cover, forcing the landlord to pursue legal action against a tenant.
Despite the set policies, it is difficult to anticipate everything that could happen and provide rules to limit exposure or income loss.
More rules mean more enforcement — and that increases time spent managing properties.
No one option offers a panacea for handling pets in rental properties. When deciding on a policy, it may be helpful to speak with other landlords and share strategies.
Also, if pets are allowed, animal experts suggest that landlords focus on screening the tenant, not the pet. Landlords should ask questions that reveal how responsible the tenant is as a pet owner before deciding whether to allow the animal and owner into the rental. For a list of questions to ask tenants who have pets, see our blog post How to Screen Tenants With Pets.
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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.