Property Management Blog

10 Tips to Successfully Rent to Tenants with Pets

Pinnacle Property Management - Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Looking to attract more tenants? 

Allowing pets in your Torrance rental property is a great way to cut the vacancy rates, as a lot of households have pets.

Moreover, allowing pets may justify a rent increase. This means that you can boost your cash flow in addition to enjoying an increased interest in your rental property.

But having tenants with pets does come with certain risks. In this article, we will cover useful tips that can turn your pet-friendly rental property into a personal success story.

Tip #1: Verify pet references

Check the references from previous landlords. Call the landlords and ask them about your prospective tenant's pets. You could focus on the following questions:

  1. Did the pets cause any trouble? Were there complaints from the neighbors due to noise or damage?
  2. Can they describe the pet's personality and behavior?
  3. How would they assess their previous tenant's responsibility as a pet owner?

Did the potential tenant fail to provide references? You should be cautious in these scenarios. There might be an underlying reason for their reluctance to list references.

Tip #2: Highlight the legal restrictions

Not all owners know the legal regulations regarding pets. You should spell out the relevant restrictions, such as prohibited exotic pets and the maximum number of pets allowed in a property.

Can you find any Health Code specifications about hygienic pet waste disposal? Make sure to include these major points in the rental agreement as well, as it will benefit both you and your tenant in the long run.

Tip #3: Examine the pet's personality

As an owner of the rental property, it is a good idea to meet animals that will stay there. First-hand assessments are best. They provide you with much more information than written or oral accounts.

See if the pet is well-socialized. Also consider the fact that your property needs repairs and maintenance on a regular basis. An animal that is aggressive toward strangers could potentially be a deal breaker.

Tip #4: Charge a pet deposit

When charging a security deposit, you should factor in the additional risk resulting from a pet staying on your property. 

However, calling the charge a pet deposit is still considered a security deposit under California law. In total, your security deposits cannot exceed the worth of two months' rent.

Tip #5: Consider pet rent

In California, you can charge pet rent in addition to the regular rent amount. Some areas in California have rent control. You need to make sure the total rent will not exceed the rent-controlled limit if your property is in such an area.

The difference between pet rent and pet deposits is simple: pet deposits are refundable after you make sure that the pet did not cause any damage, but the pet rent is not refundable. For example, pet rent could cover these costs:

  • More wear and tear compared to properties without pets
  • Additional air duct maintenance services
  • Carpet cleaning services to remove allergens

Tip #6: Inspect the property

Regular property inspections are a good idea in any case. But when you have pets living in your rental property, the need for the inspections is even more urgent.

Not keeping an eye on the state of your property could end in expensive surprises during the move-out. The price of repairing the accumulated damage could far outweigh the pet deposit.

When planning a property inspection, make sure to follow all the state and local regulations. Every entry to the property needs to have proper legal grounds.

Tip #7: Limit the type of pets and breeds

As a landlord, you are allowed to limit the weight, type, and breed of animals permitted in your property. This is completely legal under California law. 

The SB 1229 law in California states that there are certain requirements that are unacceptable: for example, the devocalization or declawing of pets as a requirement is illegal.

Tip #8: Provide a pet-friendly space

You can take practical steps to make your property pet friendly. Consider the following options that benefit both you and your tenant who owns a pet:

  • Erect a fence that is high enough to restrict the type of pets allowed in your property.
  • Add feeding stations and other pet-friendly amenities.
  • Remove carpeting and replace it with tiles (which are much easier and cheaper to clean).
  • Ensure any water features are safe for pets.
  • Opt for aluminium fittings instead of wooden ones.
  • Inform the maintenance crew or any other contractors about the pets.

Tip #9: Spell out the pet rules in your written agreement

Every rule considering your tenant's pet should be made clear in the rental or lease agreement. In case of any problems, both sides will have a legal document they can reference to defend their rights.

Tip #10: Remember that not all animals are pets

You should not treat emotional support or service animals as pets. Your tenant may have a legal entitlement to keep an animal regardless of any policy that prohibits pets in the rental property.

The Bottom Line

Allowing pets in your Torrance rental property is likely to raise tenant interest. You could receive more applications after designating your property as a pet-friendly space.

But every decision needs risk management. Here are the major points to follow when renting to tenants with pets:

  • Restrict allowed pets by type, breed, and weight
  • Meet the pet to understand its behavior
  • Consider making changes for opening up a pet-friendly property
  • Lower the financial risks by using pet deposits and pet rent

Pinnacle Property Management
CA BRE # 01905815
22700 Crenshaw Blvd.
Torrance, CA 90505
Ph: (310) 530-0606
Fax: (310) 626-9786

We are open from 8:30am to 5:00pm M-F.

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