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Should I Allow Pets in My Rental: Discover the Benefits of Owning a Pet-Friendly Rental Property in San Diego

The number of families who have pets is increasing significantly every day. When it comes to renting a place to live in San Diego, most pet owners will never consider giving up their beloved animal and lease an apartment that doesn’t allow pets. However, renting to tenants with animals has often been a controversial subject. While some landlords accept pets, others don’t permit animals at all. Many landlords fear animals will cause unnecessary damage to their property, disturb the neighbors, or cause pet-related injuries. Although these are all legitimate concerns, it is highly recommended to allow pets in your rental property in order to enjoy numerous benefits that come with it. Learn the advantages of pet-friendly rentals and see how they can lower vacancies and extend lease terms. Get expert tips on managing pet-related issues.

Attract More Tenants, Rent Faster & Increase Your Profit by Allowing Pets in Your Rental

If you are a landlord who is still contemplating whether to permit animals or not, this article will help you understand the reasons why you should accept them. We will reveal all the amazing advantages of allowing pets into your long-term rental or short-term rental, such as increased pool of applicants, longer leases, improved landlord reputation, and lower vacancy rates. We will also explore tenants’ responsibilities, the laws regarding animals, how to screen tenants with pets, along with general tips for landlords.  

7 Reasons to Allow Pets in Your Rental Unit

Although there are both pros and cons to allowing pets in your property, the advantages outshine the disadvantages by far. Take a look at all the amazing benefits of establishing a pet-friendly rental property:

Higher rent price

Landlords are often concerned about the damage caused by pets, such as scratched surfaces, damaged fences, or destroyed carpets. For this reason, they opt to charge higher rent prices by introducing pet deposits, pet fees, or pet rent. They serve to pay for cleaning or repair of pet-caused damages. These fees are similar to regular rent collection which includes deposits and move-in funds. Each option has its strengths and weaknesses, so carefully review each before choosing which one you will charge to best protect your property. Don’t forget to review California laws to avoid legal violations.

Larger tenant pool

One of the greatest benefits of allowing pets is substantial increase in renter pool. About 70% of all renters are looking for properties where their animal friends are permitted. However, only about 30% of properties are pet-friendly. What this means is that switching your property to a pet-tolerant place will dramatically open up your possibilities. With an expanded tenant pool, there will be more qualified applicants to choose from. Increasing your pool of applicants allows you to charge more and to find quality tenants faster.

Lower vacancy rates

Vacancies are a major problem for property owners as they lower your cash flow. If not properly addressed, they can even cause you to lose money quickly. Luckily, you can reduce or completely eliminate vacancies by allowing pets in your rental. Pet-friendly rentals have lower vacancy rates and reduced expenses. They enable constant flow of income and a prosperous business.

Short market time & less advertising expenses

Pet-friendly properties typically stay on the market twice as short as properties which do not allow animals. This means that you will rent faster, have fewer vacancies, and make more money out of each lease. You will spend less than half the money on advertising than those who don’t permit animals.

Longer leases

It is not easy to find a suitable place to live where pets are allowed, which is why renters with pets are more likely to renew their lease when they finally do find one. They are more likely to sign longer leases because they do not want to go through the hassle of searching for alternate dwellings and moving frequently. By having renters who are committed to staying long-term, you will ensure a steady income flow and success of your rental business.

Responsible renters

Taking care of a pet requires much time, attention, energy, and devotion. In order to ensure pets are safe and don’t damage the property, pet owners have to be responsible and 100% committed. This behavior is likely to translate into how they treat your property.

Competitive advantage over other industry peers

If you own a rental unit that accepts animals, you should use it as a powerful marketing tool. You will gain a significant advantage over the competition and advertise your rental property effectively. This way, you will attract a large number of applicants. Your potential market will be expanded and you will fill vacancies fast. The demand for pet-friendly places is soaring, while the supply is low. This is your opportunity to make the most of your business and gain maximum revenues.

There are several primary concerns that every landlord has. Accepting pets involves risks, but it is a risk worth taking. Below, you will find a list of typical landlord’s concerns, as well as tips and tricks on how to protect yourself and resolve those issues successfully.

Potential challenges

Here are the risks that come with owning a pet-friendly property:

  • Property damage – While repair costs of normal wear and tear are typically not additionally charged, pet-related damages in rental properties may require tenant reimbursement. For this reason, it is important to distinguish regular wear and tear from damage caused by pets. Pets cause wear and tear such as scratches on floors or furniture, chewed furniture, carpet stains, damaged trim, etc.
  • Allergies – Other tenants might have health concerns and allergies related to animals.
  • Noise – Noisy pets, such as barking dogs or squawking birds, can lead to complaints from other renters or neighbors.
  • Potential increase in liability – There is always the risk of pets causing injuries to others on your property.
  • Pet waste and odor – Pet accidents and animals that are not properly groomed can cause bad odors in the property area.

How to protect yourself

There are many ways to mitigate the challenges that come with renting to tenants with their beloved animals. Take a look at how to take a proactive approach and safeguard your rental business:

  • Set allowance criteria – Allowing pets does not necessarily mean you have to accept all kinds of pets. As a property owner, you retain the discretion to accept animals on a case-by-case basis. Take time to think of what you are comfortable with and move forward accordingly. You can decide to set restrictions on breed, number, age, or size of pets. The criteria should be clearly outlined before signing the lease. Your application form should request important animal information such as description, photography, or vaccination records. Property owners often restrict breeds that are deemed aggressive, such as pit bulls, rottweilers, and Dobermans. You should also be aware that restrictions can reduce your pool of interested tenants. Note: These restrictions do not apply to service and emotional support animals, as they are not considered pets.
  • Adding pet fees – By adding a pet fee, you can secure yourself from extra costs for things like professional cleaning to remove odor, or carpet and furniture repair.
  • Ask for pet references – You can also ask applicants to provide pet references from their current landlord, or their vet. They should give you a better understanding of the animal’s behavior, character, and medical records. This way, you can have assurance and confidence that pets are healthy, primarily well-behaved, with no major issues.
  • Add a Pet clause to the lease agreement – A Pet clause, also known as Pet Addendum, amends an existing lease contract to include terms and conditions in relation to pet ownership. It should specify responsibilities, rules, fees, and other issues in relation to keeping pets in rental unit (noise complaints, allergies, leash rules, clean up, etc.). A Pet clause should also contain details such as pet breed or size restrictions, obligations, and any pet-related fees.
  • Meet the pet – The best way to set your mind at rest is to meet the prospective animal in person. Arrange a meeting at the property with applicants and their pet to assess animal’s character for yourself. This is a great way to address potential issues, but also to build an honest and open relationship with the tenants.
  • Ask for pet insurance – Determine whether the tenant has pet insurance but also check your landlord’s insurance policy to make sure you are covered against pet-related damages and injuries to others from pets.
  • Pet-proof your property – Fixing up a rental property can increase profit and property value, so why not consider renovating? One of the best pet-friendly upgrades is tile floors installation. Tiles are highly durable, easy to clean, and cannot be easily scratched. If you have carpets, consider removing them or alternatively have them professionally cleaned before a new tenant moves in. If your property has a backyard, try fencing and separating the yard or installing pet doors for easier access.
  • Conduct regular inspections – Scheduling regular inspections will help you assess whether the tenants are adhering to rules and regulations outlined in Pet clause of your lease agreement. By taking adequate precautionary measures you will be able to address potential issues promptly and mitigate risks faster. Ultimately, these practices will enhance the longevity and value of your real estate.

How To Screen Prospect Tenants With Pets        

If you are looking to find and place loyal tenants, your first consideration should be the tenant. In order to determine whether the applicant is a suitable match for you, you need to first conduct a thorough tenant background check and screening.

Your next step should be screening the animal. The interview with the applicant usually gives you an idea of how responsible and reasonable the individual is. Some of the most common and useful subjects to talk about are the following:

  • Number of pets
  • Breed, age, and size
  • Animal’s temperament & other behavioral characteristics
  • Whether the pet is trained
  • Medical history & vaccinations
  • How the pet gets along with other people and animals
  • Who looks after the pet when the owner is away

The Characteristics of a Responsible Pet Owner

When searching for the right tenant for your property, look out for the attributes of responsible pet owners:

  • They keep their pets up-to-date on vaccinations
  • Their pet is well-groomed, healthy, and trained
  • They pick up after their pets and address accidents quickly
  • They are caring for and love their pets but also enforce rules for them
  • They have pet equipment (collar, leash, toys, etc.)
  • They make sure their pet gets enough exercise

According to Forbes Advisor survey, the most common pets in the U.S.A. are dogs and cats, followed by other small animals. According to the survey, almost 70% of households in the USA (87 million homes)

  • Dogs (65.1 million)
  • Cats (46.5 million)
  • Fish (11.1 million)
  • Small animals: hamsters, rabbits, gerbils, guinea pigs, etc.(6.7 million)
  • Birds (6.1 million)

Service Animal & Emotional Support Animal Laws in California

Under the Fair Housing ACT (FHA), Emotional support animals (ESAs) and support animals are not considered pets. The difference comes down to training. Service animals are trained to help people with disabilities in everyday activities. The purpose of emotional support animals is to offer companionship and therapeutic assistance to their owners. For this reason, landlords cannot prohibit these animals from staying in their rental. They are also not allowed to charge any pet fees or discriminate against breeds. Federal and state law forbids rental owners from rejecting or discriminating against people with disabilities.

Tenant’s responsibilities and duties

Renting a pet-friendly property can often raise concerns about potential damages and who is responsible for the repairs. For this reason, it is essential for both tenants and landlords to understand their rights and responsibilities in such cases. For instance, the Pet clause of the lease should state that renters have to ensure their animals do not cause excessive damage, apart from regular wear, and that they should promptly address accidents. Failure to do so may result in withholding pet deposit to pay for the necessary cleaning or repairs.

Landlord’s rights & obligations

If you are a landlord, you have the following rights and duties:

  • The right to charge pet rent, a pet fee, or pet deposit to easily mitigate the risks.
  • Provide statement of deductions within established time constraints
  • Maintain detailed documentation of the charges
  • Comply with local and state rental and civil rights laws and pet ordinances
  • Obligation to avoid discrimination against service dogs and Emotional support animals
  • Pet restrictions must have sound reasoning
  • Ensure pet rent is in compliance within the rent control limits

If you fail to comply with the law, you might face lawsuits, fines, damaged reputation, and legal disputes.

About the Author

David Miller is Real Estate Advisor at Swell Property. Whether you’re eyeing a new home, an investment property, securing the best mortgage, or aiming to enhance your property’s value, my focus is on providing personalized guidance and strategy for your success. I listen to your needs attentively, ensuring that my expertise aligns perfectly with your real estate goals. My clients’ satisfaction and referrals are the true measure of my success in San Diego’s dynamic real estate market. If you’re searching for a real estate professional who’s deeply committed to your success, I’m eager to demonstrate my expertise and win your trust. Let’s connect and start this journey together.

David Miller Real Estate Advisor

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