You've decided to allow pets in your rental property. It's a brave decision—albeit a decision with challenges.
When handled appropriately, allowing tenants with pets gives you greater access to a wider pool of potential tenants. Excluding all pets also excludes the quality North County tenants that often come with pets.
Although you've decided to allow pets, you're still in charge of what kind of pets can live in your rental properties.
Pet screening is a great way to analyze a pet, along with its owner. Here's how to incorporate pet screening into your process in a way that's sensitive to owners while protecting your properties (and other tenants).
Why Pet Screening is Necessary
Just like a potential tenant, you don't know where a pet has been or what it's done.
You've already put a thorough screening process in place for tenants. Don't slack when it comes to screening the pets who will also live in your property.
You don't want to risk housing an animal that has a history of violence or aggression to other people or pets. You also want to make sure that a pet doesn't bring any illness, fleas—or worse—into your property.
How to Add Pet Screening to Your Process
Pet screening can be a sensitive topic for pet owners.
Large-breed dogs are often characterized as aggressive based on the history of other similar breeds. Other animal breeds can come with unknowns that might be typical for the breed—but might seem dangerous or odd to you or other tenants.
Many rental properties don't allow pets. This can leave pet owners feeling frustrated that they aren't welcome with their beloved pet. Asking questions about their pets can stir up resentment.
By making pet-screening a routine part of your full tenant screening process, you remove the implication that you are targeting a specific breed of a pet during the application process.
- Include a pet application with every tenant application.
- Make sure all applicants know that it's a standard part of the process for pets in your property.
- For current tenants who want to add a pet to the lease, they should follow the same pet screening process.
- Outline pet policies and requirements on the application.
- Make sure these same policies and requirements are noted in a contract addendum when you accept a tenant into your property.
If a pet owner refuses to provide the information required through the screening process, don't allow them or their pet to live in your property.
Good pet owners with good pets have nothing to hide when it comes to applying to rent your property.
What to Ask During the Screening
Allowing pets into your properties is a great way to find a quality tenant and provide a home for a pet and its owner. However, it's not worth the risk of allowing a pet without a thorough investigation.
Ask for critical information through your pet screening application:
- Pet name
- Addresses where the owner has lived with the pet for the prior two years
- Pet's breed, gender, and age
- Pet's weight (this is critical if you have a weight limit for allowed pets)
- Vet history (vet contact information, records of exams, vaccinations, and additional treatments)
- Behavior history. Has there been any noise complaints? Has the animal been reported for a bite or attack?
- Is the pet house trained?
- Is the animal certified as a Service Animal?
Be sure your screening includes a way to verify the owner's answers to these questions. Confirm information with the owner's vet. Contact prior landlords to confirm the pet's behavior at former addresses.
If a tenant is requesting an animal as a service animal, be sure it meets the criteria for a service animal.
Landlords are required to accept verified service animals to accommodate a tenant. However, you can deny a pet that fails your criteria through the screening process.
When a Pet Passes the Screening
When you've confirmed the wonderful pet and owner, welcome them to your rental property.
Create a profile for the pet—just like you have for each tenant. Keep records of the pet-screening application, all records, reports, and the pet deposit.
Having a pet in your property is an on-going responsibility for the tenant. Request vaccination updates from your tenant as-needed. Note any behavior or policy violations in the pet's profile. Discuss violations with the tenant.
Property Managers Are Great With Pets
If pets aren't your thing, but you see the value of allowing pets in your properties, let the professionals handle it.
Raintree Property Management has the experience to handle pet screenings and pet owners. We have the resources to verify records and service animal certifications for North County.
Whether you're new to the idea of pets in your properties, or you're just tired of dealing with the "fluff," contact us for a free consultation! We'll handle Fido and his owner with care. Click the link below to find out what we can do to help your property.