Should You Allow Pets in Your Rental Property?
“I don’t want tenants with pets,” we hear this everyday from landlords. It is one of the most painful topics for some landlords. Understandably so, you don’t want extra expenses to repair the damages caused by pets, but are you loosing more money by not allowing pets? Here’s a list of things to consider when you decide whether to allow pets in your Denver rental property:
1. Colorado is a very pet friendly state. From our experience around 80% of renters in the Denver area have pets. By choosing not to allow pets you are decreasing your pool of potential tenants and increasing your time on the market. Typically, it takes 3 times longer to find tenants for housing that doesn’t allow pets. You do the math, if your house sits empty, for say 3 months, because you don’t allow pets, you potentially loose $4500 or more (3 times the amount of average rent in Denver). Will a pet do damage equaling to this amount? Possible, but not likely. Approach this decision from purely economical standpoint and remove all the emotion. Does it make financial sense to loose money on vacancy or take the risk of replacing the carpet? Which is less expensive? Run your numbers and make the decision.
2. Most leases provide that the entire deposit is at stake when there’s pet damage, not just the pet part of the deposit. This may or may not cover your expenses for damage repairs. It really depends on the age of the damaged item. For example, carpet in a rental home has a useful life of 5-7 years. If the tenant moved in and the carpet was brand new, then at move out you discovered that the carpet is destroyed, you by all means can charge the tenant depreciated value. However if the carpet was more than 5 years old, it is considered fully depreciated for rental purposes and you will not be able to recover much money for it. Certain things like door frames, kitchen cabinets, fences have longer useful lives, so you will be able to recover more if a pet damages these items.
3. Most Denver property management companies charge pet rent of $15-30 per month per pet. This compensates you for some potential damages even if you can’t use the deposit due to the age of the asset. Tenants are used to paying more for their pets, so it will not come as a surprise. It is also common in Colorado to charge additional pet deposit (there are usually refundable and non-refundable portions of this element).
4. Should you limit the number of pets you allow? Absolutely. The more pets the greater the chance damage will be done to a house. The more pets there are the greater chance the owners aren’t cleaning up and paying attention to the pets. We recommend no more than two pets. The more pets the more wear and tear.
5. Disallow aggressive breeds – this one is easy. It simply reduces your liability.
6. Many owners ask if they should limit the weight. In our experience – it really doesn’t matter. A Chihuahua can do lots of damage with its sharp nails and spunky personality, while a Great Dane is huge, but doesn’t dig a lot and mostly just lies around.
6. Do some research prior to approving tenant with pets. The best way to see how well a pet will behave is to check with previous landlords to see if the tenants had pets and if the pets did any damage.
7. Pet owners tend to move less, therefore staying longer at your rental house and reducing the cost of turn over.
8. If you allow pets, it will decrease the chances of tenants trying to sneak in pets that you have not approved.
9. If you do decide to allow pets, make it a point to visit the property every 3-4 months. If the pet is doing damage, you can catch it early on address it with the tenant before too much damage is done.
10. Lastly, do not confuse service animals with pets. It is against the law to charge any additional fees or deposit for service animals as it is against the law to not allow a service animal in your house.
It is always hard to decide whether to make your rental property pet friendly. It is important to weigh the pros and cons of allowing pets to decide what is right for you and your property. Remember to adhere to the Fair Housing Laws and to adopt the same policies for all tenants so you will not be accused of discrimination.
A knowledgeable property manager can offer guidance on this topic and help protect your investment. Evolve Real Estate and Property Management is a one-stop shop for all your Denver property management needs.