Why Pet Screening is Always a Good Idea

America is a nation of pet lovers. In fact, a majority of households report owning pets. This number is even projected to continue rising in the future. And the higher the number of pet owners, the higher the demand for pet-friendly rentals.

As a landlord, it, therefore, makes sense to allow pets into your rental property. By allowing pets, it means you’ll have a large prospective pool of tenants to choose from. And this basically means having an easier time renting out your rental property.

With that in mind, some landlords choose not to allow pets into their rental properties for legitimate reasons. While pets can be friendly, even the most behaved furry friends can cause property damage. Dogs are known for chewing up fences and siding. Cats can scratch floors, pull up pieces of carpet, and scratch walls.

Luckily, as a landlord, there are several things you can do to minimize these types of damages while providing a pet-friendly rental. One of the options is to screen every pet prior to allowing it in your home. Just as you screen prospective tenants, screen every pet to ensure both the tenant and their pet is good for your home.

The Benefits of Having a Pet-friendly Home

There are multiple benefits to providing a pet-friendly rental. They are as follows:

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Tenants May Stay Longer

People with pets don’t have many options when looking for a pet-friendly home. That’s because, despite the rising number of pet owners in America, many landlords are still hesitant in allowing pets into their homes.

Consequently, this means that people with pets have limited options when it comes to finding a property they can rent. Therefore, by allowing tenants to keep their furry friends, landlords may be able to enjoy high demand from tenants with pets. This may mean low vacancy rate and more long-term tenancy.

You May Attract High-quality Tenants

As previously mentioned many Americans have a pet. With more tenants having pets, and you having a pet-friendly rental property, it means that you may be able to appeal to a large pool of prospective tenants.

And attracting a large pool of prospective tenants can enable landlords to get the tenant of their dreams. This is especially true if they have a thorough tenant and pet screening process in place.

You Can Charge Pet Rent

When it comes to rental pricing, there is a direct correlation between demand and supply. Since fewer landlords allow pets on their property, it means demand for pet-friend accommodations is high. And the higher the demand, the more landlords can charge for pet rent.

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You Can Attract Responsible Tenants

Pet ownership is a huge responsibility. Having to look after a pet can be a lot of work. Animals require also a lot of attention, cost money, and can make a lot of mess. And people with pets, therefore, tend to devote the same amount of energy to caring for their rented property as they would their pets.

What is Pet Screening?

A pet screening is essentially a background check for a prospective tenant’s pet. In a pet screening, you are ensuring that your property is rented to the most qualified residents with well-behaved animals. It’s similar to tenant screening only that in this case you’re dealing with a pet.

Pet screening is a relatively simple concept. However, pet screenings require a good grasp on what information to look for. A proper pet screening process can help lower the risk of property damage, liability issues, and low-quality tenants.

Note that if the animal is a service animal, they should not be treated as a regular pet. Service animals are not subject to extra pet fees or screenings, and denying a tenant with a service animal is a violation of fair housing laws.

The following is what your pet-screening process should focus on:

In-Person Meeting

As part of a pet screening, having a one-to-one meeting with the pet and tenant can help landlords ascertain whether the tenant was truthful in their rental application about their pet's demeanor.

Note, however, that pets during pet screenings can become quite nervous around people they don’t know. Therefore, landlords may not be able to get a perfect reflection of the pet’s behavior and temperament during the initial pet screening.

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Questionnaire

This is another important aspect of any successful pet screening exercise. Asking the right questions during pet screenings will enable landlords to know whether a pet poses a risk to the property or not. Here are examples of questions to ask the pet owner to get you started, along with some questions that depend on the animal:

  • What breed is your pet?
  • How much does it weigh?
  • How old is the animal?
  • Have you spayed or neutered your pet? If not, is it something you’re considering doing in the near future?
  • Is your pet vaccinated? If so, is there any proof you can show?
  • Is your pet in a good state of health?
  • Has your pet ever caused harm to anyone?
  • Does your pet have any behavioral issues?
  • Is your pet house-trained?

Questions to ask specifically to dog owners:

  • Is your dog neutered?
  • Has your dog undergone any training?
  • Do you clean up after your dog?
  • Is your dog house-trained?
  • Do you leash your dog walking them?

Questions to ask specifically to cat owners:

  • Have you neutered your cat?
  • Does your cat have behavioral issues?
  • Is your cat trained to use the litter box?
  • Do you keep your cat inside?

Do Fair Housing Laws Apply to Service and Emotional Support Animals?

Service dogs and emotional support animals must be exempted from pet screening. This is because disability is a protected class under the Federal Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. In addition to not performing pet screening, it’s also unlawful for landlords to charge pet fees or a separate pet security deposit.

Bottom Line

As you can see, pet screening is always a good idea. Landlords are able to lower the risk of property damage, liability issues, and low-quality tenants. That said, if you’re just getting started as a landlord, hiring expert help may be advisable.

Draper Realty is a professional property management company. We can provide you with full-service property management solutions to help you maximize your ROI. Get in touch to learn more!

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