Pets and Rental Properties

Pets can live quite happily in rental housing, as long as there is cooperation and commitment from tenants and landlords. It is important to establish some ground rules. The following are some general guidelines for landlords and tenants to consider when setting up a pet policy. Policies for individual properties should be designed to best meet the needs of both parties.

Put It In Writing A written agreement can be in the best interest of both tenant and landlord. A written pet approval from the landlord and a signed agreement acknowledging the pet owner’s responsibility in following the enumerated pet rules and procedures, reduces misunderstandings.

Provide For Reasonable Pet Deposits Reasonable pet deposits mitigate landlord concerns over uncompensated pet damage. What is reasonable may vary with each building, but deposits should not be so high as to prohibit pet ownership.

Establish Limits Animals permitted are usually common household pets, such as dogs, cats, rodents, fish and birds. Other species need to be cleared by management, if they are permitted under local law. A set policy limiting the maximum number of pets each tenant may own, can also help keep the building’s pet population at manageable levels.

Set Parameters Should certain types of pets be confined at all times to tenants’ apartments? Should other pets be permitted in all or only parts of the common areas? Establish property pet regulations in advance, before any conflicts arise.

Proper Disposal of All Animal Waste Animal waste can become a problem if it’s not made clear that cleaning up is a tenant’s absolute responsibility. A responsible pet owner will agree to immediately pick up and dispose of dog feces, bag cat box filler before placing it in garbage containers, and take other necessary sanitation measures.

Require That Adult Dogs and Cats Be Altered Spaying and neutering can reduce conflicts between animals and the tendency for males to roam. Plus there’s a multitude of health and behaviour benefits to be gained. Most importantly, spaying and neutering will eliminate the chance of resident pets contributing to the pet overpopulation problem.

Owners Follow Legal Pet Requirements This means being licensed, inoculated, and maintained as required by law. Ensure that cats and dogs always wear identification collars.

Establish Emergency Arrangements In Advance Arrangements for the care and feeding of any pet whose owner goes out of town, becomes ill, or is otherwise unable to care for the pet, should be conveyed to management. For emergency situations, landlords should keep a file with the names and addresses of each pet’s veterinarian and substitute caretakers designated by the pet owner.

Put Disciplinary Procedures in Writing and Enforce Them Fairly Written notice to tenants concerning procedures for dealing with pet rule violations will make enforcement easier for all parties. These procedures might include a provision for warning(s) before any punitive measures are taken. Whatever the policy, fair and consistent enforcement will reduce disputes and make for better relations between management and tenants.

Tips For Pet Owners Seeking Rental Housing

• Have references ready that mention your pet specifically.

• Show signs of being responsible. Have proof of licensing, spay/neuter surgery, vaccinations, regular veterinary care, obedience school, etc.

• Encourage the landlord to meet your freshly-groomed, well-behaved pet.

• Offer to pay an additional pet deposit.

• Show a willingness to have the landlord visit your place shortly after rental so he or she feels satisfied the pet is adjusting.

• Offer to help clean up the premises used by pets.

• Agree to sign a pet agreement; offer to cover any damages made by your pet.

• Upon meeting the landlord for the first time, dress as if you were in a job interview. Dressing well shows you care about how you take care of yourself, your living environment and your pet.