A Guideline for Property Owners
(Just Say Yes to Pets!!)
[Portions reprinted courtesy of the SF SPCA]
Pets in Rental Housing: Myths & Realities
Myth: “If I let one tenant have a pet, I’ll have to let everyone have one.”
Reality: Many landlords fear that if they allow pets they will be overrun with irresponsible pet owners and the problems they create. But with a few simple procedures and precautions in place, landlords can successfully screen out these people without penalizing responsible pet owners who will make excellent tenants.
Myth: One pet might be okay, but more than one is just too many.”
Reality: In some cases, a second pet may actually make life easier all around. Most companion animals, including dogs and cats, are social beings and companionship is one of their highest priorities. For a pet that spends a lot of time alone, a playmate will help alleviate boredom. And the playmates need not be of the same species; many dogs and cats, for instance, can become the best of friends when raised together or properly introduced.
Myth: Dogs need big back yards and someone to be home with them all day.
Reality: Dogs do need regular exercise and a chance to spend time with their human companions. But when these requirements are met, dogs can be happy in the city or country. And, fortunately, it’s easy to keep a dog happy a city where there are numerous off-leash dog runs to make exercising and socializing fun and convenient.
Myth: Small dogs are okay, but big dogs just aren’t suited for apartment life.”
Reality: It’s not a dog’s size that determines how well it will do in rental housing; it’s a dog’s energy level and exercise requirements that are important. Many large dogs tend to be more laid back and easy going than their tiny counterparts. More active breeds may require a greater commitment from their owners to ensure these animals get the exercise they need. Other factors, such as age and temperament, can also be important. Older dogs, even larger one, for instance, are generally less active than puppies.
A Guideline for Property Owners
Successful Pet Policies
The following are some general guidelines for property owners when setting up a pet policy. These are not hard and fast rules, and policies for individual properties should be designed to best meet your specific needs.
Start with screening
Careful screening of prospective tenants is the first step to a successful pet policy. By asking a few simple questions, property owners can screed out irresponsible pet owners and find the responsible ones who will make good tenants.
Put it in writing
A written agreement protects the interests of both owner and tenant, and pet rules and procedures help avoid misunderstandings.
Charge reasonable pet deposits
What is reasonable may vary, depending on the nature of each rental. While many landlords don’t charge any additional pet deposit, once survey showed the average pet deposit was $150.
Limit permissible animals to common pets like dogs, cats, rodents, fish, and birds. A policy on how many pets each tenant may own can also help keep the building’s pet population at manageable levels.
Should certain types of pets be confined to tenants’ apartments? Should other pets be permitted in all or only parts of the common areas? Should dogs be leashed when in hallways and other communal areas? Establish pet regulations in advance, before any conflicts arise.
A responsible pet owner will agree to immediately pick up and dispose of dog feces, bag kitty litter before placing in garbage containers, and take other necessary sanitation measures.
Require spaying and neutering
Spayed and neutered animals are generally healthier, better behaved, and more suited to apartment living than their unaltered counterparts. That an animal is spayed or neutered is one indication of a responsible pet owner. Be cautious of pet owners who have not spayed or neutered their pets as this can indicate an indifference to the welfare of the community at large.
Determine emergency arrangements
Property owners may want to keep a file with the names and addresses of each pet’s veterinarian and substitute caretakers designated by the tenant.
Put disciplinary procedures in writing and enforce them fairly
These procedures might include a provision for warnings 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.
These forms are in the .pdf format and must be viewed with Adobe Acrobat Reader.
The Pet Policy, the accompanying lease amendment, and other forms are intended to provide landlords and tenants or prospective tenants with a starting point to develop pet rules and procedures for their own rental buildings and tenancy situations. While we believe this sample forms will fit the needs of most landlord/tenant situations, you should consider the policy and other forms in light of your particular situation and consult with your attorney before adopting a final set of rules or before getting locked into agreements that you may eventually become unsuitable for your needs.