[Originally published May 1, 2017. Updated January 14, 2022]
Deciding whether to rent your investment property to tenants with pets is a big decision. If well-prepared for the worst-case scenario, welcoming pet-owning tenants can be highly beneficial for landlords. BUT… what do you need to know before renting to pet owners?
Being prepared to have pets in your rental property
The best preparations for leasing your property to tenants with furry friends are made during the selection process, just as they are for tenants without pets. Because ultimately, the tenant is the one looking after the pet(s) — they are responsible for their care, behaviour, and living environment.
That said, being prepared for the worst is still essential, so start by asking yourself these questions:
1. Does your insurance cover pet damage?
If for whatever reason the tenant’s pet causes damage and you are stuck with the repair bill, you’ll want to be sure that your insurance covers this kind of damage. If in doubt, check with your insurer.
2. Are your carpets more than ten years old?
We recently had a landlord whose insurance claim was rejected at the Tenancy Tribunal because the carpet they were replacing at the end of a tenancy was older than ten years — the lifespan of carpets as recommended by most manufacturers.
3. How many times can you pay an insurance excess?
We’ve also seen landlords pay multiple excess fees when lodging insurance claims for damage in separate rooms or occurring on separate occasions.
4. Can you afford repairs if they cost more than your bond and your insurance doesn’t cover it?
It may be natural to want to ask tenants with pets for more than four weeks rent as bond, but this is the maximum you’re legally allowed to charge. If pet-related damage occurs and your insurance doesn’t pay out and your bond doesn’t cover it, will you be able to cover it out of pocket?
The benefits of allowing pets in your rental property
With the questions above asked, it’s time to hear the pros of renting to pet owners.
1. Bigger tenant pool
When you open your property to pets, you’ll have a larger pool of tenants to choose from. There’s certainly no shortage of people looking for pet-friendly properties.
2. Keep your tenants for longer
Pet-owning tenants are aware of how difficult it can be to find a welcoming rental property, so when they find a pet-friendly landlord, they often stick around for longer than those without pets.
3. Allowing pets can mean higher rent
The fewer pet-friendly rental properties in your area, the better your chances of charging slightly higher rent.
How to seek out tenants with pets
It’s understandable for landlords to be reluctant to rent to pet owners, but if you take the time to carefully screen your tenants (and their pets) and set clear expectations, the decision to allow pets can be extremely beneficial in the long run. We recommend taking the following steps.
1. Get to know prospective tenants and their pets — ask for pet references.
Ask potential tenants additional questions about their pet. Some pet owners have references from previous landlords and neighbours that pertain especially to their pet — did they cause damage, bark or wander on to neighbouring sections?
2. Add a pet clause to the tenancy agreement.
At Irelands, our tenancy agreements contain an additional section pertaining to pets when we rent to pet owners. This details the expectations for the pet owner and the responsibilities they have should an incident occur.
3. Plan for regular inspections.
You should be doing this anyway, but it’s especially important for properties where pets are present. If you notice any pet-related problems during an inspection, make your tenant aware immediately so they have the chance to rectify the problem.
4. Ensure you have a pet-friendly home and then market these features.
For example, you may install a pet door or high fencing on the property to keep pets safe and comfortable. If you have done these things, be sure to highlight them in your rental listing.
5. Specify the type of pets you’re willing to take.
You’ll need to take the size of your property into consideration when making this decision. State the types and number of pets you will accept in your rental listing.
Concentrate on the tenant
Renting your investment property to a pet owner can be a great experience if you find the right tenant. Our experienced team of Christchurch property managers is adept in vetting tenants with pets and can help you find the ideal candidate.
Get in touch to learn more.