Rental Pet Policies: As a Landlord, Should I Allow Pets?

Navigating a landlord's pet policy in Memphis rental properties can often be likened to walking through a minefield. However, with a strategic approach, landlords and tenants can achieve harmony in pet-friendly rentals. 

Discover valuable insights for creating comprehensive policies that balance tenant satisfaction and property protection. Read more below.

Crafting a Comprehensive Landlord Pet Policy

To ensure a professional pet policy for your property, landlords must be precise in their lease terms regarding pets. If pets are not allowed, it is crucial to outline this clearly in the lease agreement. 

However, if you decide to permit pets, drafting a detailed pet addendum that outlines your specific pet policies is essential. This document must include the pet rent amount, the pet deposit amount, and a non-refundable pet fee. For clarity, here is an explanation of each term and its application to your property's pet policies.

Pet Deposit 

A pet deposit is a refundable fee that tenants pay upon moving in to cover any potential pet-related damages during the lease term. If no damage occurs, owners must return this deposit to the tenant at the end of the lease.

Pet Rent 

Pet rent is an additional monthly fee charged to tenants for keeping pets in the rental property. Typically ranging from $10 to $60 per month, tenants must pay this fee in addition to the regular monthly rent.

By understanding these terms and incorporating them into your pet policies, landlords can establish clear guidelines for pet ownership within their rental properties.

Pet Fees

Memphis landlords are charged a nonrefundable pet fee for permitting pets. The fee varies based on local regulations but is commonly set between $200 and $300 as a one-time, nonrefundable charge.

Typically, landlords opt for either of these fees instead of imposing all three. For Memphis landlords seeking assistance drafting these essential elements, consider contacting a reputable property management firm.

An assistant dog carrying a medical aid pouchPets vs. Assistance Animals

Understanding the contrast between Assistance Animals and Pets is crucial. It's vital to distinguish how service animals and Emotional Support Animals (ESA) should be handled differently. The Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) oblige landlords to offer appropriate accommodation to both the owner and their animal.

It's important to note that service animals and ESAs are distinct from "pets," you are prohibited from levying pet rent or a security deposit from tenants with service animals.

Miniature horses and dogs are the only animals currently eligible for service animal status and protection. If a tenant approaches you about a "service snake," be cautious to avoid potential issues.

There's a growing category of "Therapy" animals, but verifying official documentation is essential to prevent fraud. Authorities are now scrutinizing suppliers of counterfeit certificates. Exercise caution with "therapy" animals and seek guidance from legal counsel or a property manager if unsure of the situation.

Benefits of Allowing Pets in Your Rental Property

Considering pets in your rental properties can bring various advantages. It is crucial to carefully evaluate these benefits alongside any associated risks. Opening your rental units to tenants with pets presents an opportunity to access a broader renter demographic, command higher rental rates, and extend occupancies.

This section explores these advantages in more detail to help you decide whether to allow pets in your Memphis rental property.

Expanding Your Tenant Pool

Permitting pets in your rental units can substantially widen your potential tenant market. Given that many households have pets, there is a strong demand for pet-friendly properties. By allowing pets, you tap into an often overlooked niche in the market, instantly positioning your property as a more appealing choice.

These potential tenants, frequently encountering challenges in finding pet-accepting accommodations, are more inclined to commit to a longer lease term to sidestep the inconvenience of seeking pet-friendly rentals in the future. Consequently, embracing a pet-friendly policy can establish a mutually beneficial arrangement for both yourself as a landlord and prospective tenants.

The Potential in Raising Rental Prices and Fees

Embracing pet-friendly policies presents an opportunity to increase rental income and fees. Pet owners, especially those with cats and dogs, are often willing to pay more for a rental property that accommodates their furry friends. Starting the lease could mean a slight uptick in monthly rent or a one-time non-refundable pet fee.

Introducing a pet deposit can provide financial security against any damages caused by the pet. These deposits not only boost your revenue but also offer a financial cushion.
Given the scarcity of pet-friendly rentals in Memphis, potential tenants have strong demand and limited price sensitivity. Leveraging the ability to charge higher rents and fees can significantly enhance your return on investment and overall profitability in the Memphis rental market.

Extending Lease Terms to Reduce Vacancies

Pets can often play a crucial role for renters when deciding on a rental property. It is not uncommon for renters with pets to commit to the same property for extended durations to avoid the hassle of seeking another pet-accepting rental. Long-term tenants lead to decreased turnover rates, reduced vacant periods, and a more stable rental revenue stream.

Tenants permitted to have pets typically exhibit greater contentment with their living arrangements, fostering a positive rapport between landlords and tenants. This elevated tenant satisfaction can boost lease renewal probabilities, preserving a consistent occupancy level in your property. Thus, being pet-friendly attracts a broader range of potential tenants and encourages longer lease commitments, ensuring steady income flow from your rental property with minimized disruptions.

Legal Considerations

Understanding legal aspects when allowing pets in rental properties is paramount. Knowing local ordinances is crucial as they may detail approved pet types, limitations on numbers or breeds, or size restrictions. Specific laws also prevent landlords from flatly refusing pet ownership in their properties.
Comprehension of fair housing statutes is essential. In the United States, the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act require landlords to reasonably accommodate tenants with service or emotional support animals regardless of a "no pets" policy.

Landlords must assess potential liability arising from pet-related incidents like property damage or animal bites caused by tenants. Requiring renters to have insurance covering such events can mitigate these risks significantly.

Finally, it would prove advantageous to delineate pet regulations within the lease agreement distinctly. These may encompass directives regarding the species and quantity of pets permissible, pet conduct, sanitation, and property harm. By establishing unambiguous guidelines, landlords and tenants can comprehend their obligations, diminishing the likelihood of disputes.

Property manager helping clientDevelop an All-Encompassing Pet Policy with a Professional Property Manager

While allowing pets in your rental units poses challenges and considerations, the benefits generally outweigh the risks. A pet-welcoming policy can attract a broader array of potential lessees, offer the potential for increased rental rates and fees, and lead to extended lease durations with minimal vacancies. Concerns regarding potential property damage and legal matters can be addressed through a clear pet policy, a thorough lease addendum, and a comprehensive grasp of regional statutes and regulations.

At RiverTown Realty, we aim to streamline this procedure by offering expert counsel and pragmatic resolutions. Using our expertise in rental property management, we can assist you in establishing a pet policy that maximizes your profits while lessening possible liabilities. 

Whether you are a novice in property leasing or an experienced landlord, aligning with RiverTown Realty can aid you in smoothly and confidently maneuvering through the intricacies of allowing pets in your rental units.

For additional details and assistance managing your property, contact us today.