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Setting Expectations with Pet Owners

Star Tenant Holding Her Cat

As a Star rental property owner, you have to set routine expectations with your renters from your first interaction. Your pet policy is one of the first things you deal with. The decision to allow pets in your rental home is one that only you can make. Both options have pros and cons, which can every so often make it more challenging to make a hard-and-fast decision. If you do decide to allow pets, you need to have your pet policy clearly outlined and prepared to go through with your renter when they sign the lease. You should also set clear expectations with your renter pet owners, including what type and how many pets are allowed, pet deposits and fees, monthly charges, vaccination and behavior requirements, how you’ll cope with complaints, and the consequences for violating your pet policy. We’ll discuss each one of these in more detail below.

Type and Number of Pets

By far, the most frequent pets that Americans have at home are dogs and cats. Your pet policy should include particulars about any breed or size restrictions as well as how many pets are permitted. Be sure to check local regulations and follow any rules you find there. Smaller pets, like birds, fish, and hamsters, are also popular, so be sure to focus on these types of pets in your lease documents.

Pet Deposit/Fee and Monthly Rent

It’s one of the drawbacks of allowing pets on the property: pets frequently bring about damage that may go a step further than normal wear and tear. For this reason, most rental property owners will charge a pet deposit or fee in addition to the standard security deposit. Many similarly charge additional pet rent monthly to help deal with the extra property maintenance and repair costs. While the amount you charge is up to you, it’s a wonderful idea to do some research and see what other Star property managers charge for pets and follow suit.

Vaccination and Behavior Requirements

On top of the financial responsibilities of rental pet owners, don’t forget to include any other obligations related to keeping pets in your lease. For example, many cities and counties have vaccination and licensing regulations, especially for dogs. By including your local regulations in your lease and requiring your renter to follow them, you can better protect yourself and your property from potential legal issues. The same thing is true for pet behavior. In your lease, be sure to specify any restrictions on the behaviors of pets, such as excessive barking, allowing pets outside or off leash, or other possibly difficult behaviors. Set appropriate and clear consequences for violations of these and all requirements to help enforce your lease more easily.

Handling Complaints

While your renter may love their pets, the neighbors might be less pleased to have them there. Pet complaints can be difficult to handle because common complaints, such as excessive barking or pets roaming unleashed, are not things that the rental property owner has direct control over. You can set clear expectations with your renter about properly securing and leashing their pet and taking steps to keep their pet from making too much noise. Then, make a plan to handle repeated complaints, such as a system to issue warnings before going straight to breach of contract. This may make your renter more likely to be a more responsible pet owner.

Consequences for Violations

And although the right expectations can help lessen the possibility for renters to abuse your pet policy, they may still violate it anyway. One of the more common things renters will try is to sneak additional pets onto the property so they don’t have to pay the additional fees. Unauthorized pets are always a concern for landlords, whether you allow pets or not. Suppose your renter has too many pets, has an unauthorized species or breed, or otherwise violated your pet policy. In that case, you should document the situation carefully and notify the renter of the violation. If your state laws allow it, you could even include a fine for pet policy violations in your lease, which may offer an even stronger incentive for your renter to abide by the terms of their lease. Depending on the number and severity of the violation, you should then take the applicable action.


Allowing pets in your rental property can enhance both your profits and tenant relations. However, it is necessary to have a clear and detailed pet policy to help you establish and manage your tenant’s expectations from the beginning. If you need to get some expert guidance and advice on the subject of allowing pets, why not give Real Property Management Boise a call? We can help you outline your rental policies in high-quality rental documents,  check your property regularly for hidden pets or other lease violations, and more! Contact us online or reach us at 208-287-8222.

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