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When you’re renting out your Charleston property to tenants, it’s natural to hesitate before you decide to allow pets. Even if you’re a pet owner yourself and you love animals, you know that allowing a pet in your rental property can increase your risk.

Today, we want to explain why it’s actually a positive thing to accept renters who have pets.

Deciding to Allow or Not Allow Pets

Owners are always asking us if they can disallow pets. While it’s perfectly legal and acceptable to adopt a no pet policy, we don’t recommend it. Many owners don’t realize how much a no pet policy will lower their pool of potential renters. If you look at the statistics, you’ll see that 60 percent of tenants have at least one pet. So, by not allowing pets in your investment property, you’re diminishing a large pool of potential renters. That could result in longer vacancy times.

Deposits and Pet Rent to Mitigate Pet Damage

Most owners hesitate to allow pets because they’re worried about damage during the tenancy. They don’t want to spend a lot of money replacing the floors that a dog tore up or a wall that a cat used as a scratching post. If you do allow pets, we recommend that you charge a security deposit that’s equal to at least one month’s rent. It’s also beneficial to charge a monthly pet rent. Or, you can charge a one-time pet fee at move-in. You can set that fee aside and apply it to any damages that are discovered after your tenant and their pet move out.

Screen Pets like you Screen Tenants

Pet screening has become more popular. We use a pet screening website, and we recommend that you do the same thing when you decide to allow tenants with pets. With this property management service, you can access a number of screening resources. You’ll be able to see any history of aggression, and you can also review the pet’s vaccination history, the age of the animal, and the breed. This will help you decide whether to accept the pet, and how much of a fee you should charge before allowing the pet to move in with the tenant.

Fair Housing and Pets

You’ll be relieved to know that fair housing laws do not extend to pets. You can discriminate against animals based on their size, weight, or age. You can decide to allow one cat or two dogs or one small cat. You can disallow kittens and puppies. If you’re not okay with a pet’s size or age, you can say no.

Service animals are protected by fair housing laws, however, and you need to remember that you cannot treat service animals like pets. The law does not see them as pets, which means you cannot charge a pet fee or a pet deposit or extra pet rent.

We know pets can be an emotional subject for tenants and owners. If you have any questions or need any help, please contact us at New Heights Property Management.