There are many benefits and risks to consider before listing your property. If you’re on the fence about whether or not to allow pets in your rental units, here are the factors you should consider.

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If you’re a new investor or have a new rental property you’re getting ready to list, deciding to allow pets in your units is an important consideration.

While you might want to make this choice based on your personal preference (no pets equals less mess, right?), making a hard exclusion could limit the number of applicants who apply for rentals.

There are many benefits and risks to consider before listing your property. If you’re on the fence about whether or not to allow pets in your rental units, here are the factors you should consider.

Pros of allowing a tenant with a pet

1. Allowing pets could boost the number of interested applicants

Most people in the U.S. have a pet. According to the Insurance Information Institute, roughly 70 percent of Americans have pets. Zillow found that twice as many renters filter for pet-friendly listings than any other amenity on the site.

With the vast majority looking for a home for themselves and their furry companions, allowing pets in your unit can open your rental pool to a larger variety of applicants.

This may make it easier to find a good tenant for your property, rather than settling for a riskier tenant who doesn’t meet the rent-to-income ratio and doesn’t own a pet.

2. You can increase the rent or add a pet fee

If you’re worried about damage from pets, you can increase the monthly rent or include a monthly rent per pet. By allowing pets, you can often increase the rent by $50 to $100 per month (depending on the rental area). Alternatively, you could charge an extra monthly pet rate per month per pet. 

Some landlords also charge an additional nonrefundable pet deposit for replacing carpet or repairing any damages when the tenant moves out.

3. A pet owner may be more likely to renew their lease

While reasons for leaving a rental property vary greatly, you may find a pet owner to be a more long-term tenant. If you provide a pet-friendly home (access to a closed-in yard for dogs, for example), a tenant may be less likely to leave. Since not all rental properties offer pet-friendly accommodations or allow pets, you’ll have a leg up on the competition.

4. A tenant with a pet could take better care of your unit

Caring for a pet is a big responsibility. Tenants who take care of pets may be more likely to treat your rental unit better, for their sake and their pets’. Most pet owners want to provide a safe, peaceful, and clean home for their pets, so you could be better off letting a pet owner into your rental property.

Cons of allowing a tenant with a pet

1. Some pets can cause significant damage

No landlord wants to shell out thousands to replace flooring, fix scratched walls or restore other damaged areas in the home. Unfortunately, even the most well-trained pets can cause damage, so letting a tenant with pets into your units always comes with risks. 

While a pet fee or deposit can help compensate for these damages, making necessary repairs takes time — which is also money out of your pocket.

2. Pets cause noise disturbances

There’s no getting around it — some pets are loud. A good tenant with a well-behaved dog may keep your property clean and pay the rent on time, but if their pet is loud and disturbing other tenants in neighboring units, it can quickly become a problem. 

Since it’s hard to control the noise of a pet, it can be a difficult problem to rectify until the lease is up. Consider this if you’re managing a multi-unit apartment or duplex with thin walls.

3. Other tenants may be allergic to pets

Another factor to consider if you’re renting multi-family units is the allergies of other tenants. Even if a pet stays within its particular rental unit, another tenant with severe allergies may have an uncomfortable experience living above, below or next to a tenant with pets. And it can become life-threatening if the pet is taken out of the unit to go on walks or hangs out on the balcony next to a tenant with an allergy. Plus, shared air conditioning units and HVAC systems can spread pet allergens from unit to unit.

While you could designate pet-friendly units and reserve non-pet-friendly units for tenants with allergies, this system isn’t perfect and can still lead to complications. Be sure to consider this before deciding if allowing pets makes sense.

4. In extreme cases, pets can hurt others

No matter the type of pet or breed, pets can injure others whether out of fear or accidentally. Pets can also injure other tenants’ pets, which could lead to legal battles and upset renters. While some landlords limit the breed or size of pets allowed in rental units to mitigate this, even a small dog can cause an injury if it feels threatened.

5. Your homeowner’s association may not allow pets

If this is the case, then you shouldn’t let pets in your rental unit. Even if a tenant has a quiet pet that always stays indoors, if the association says no, then you’ll need to abide by their rules.

How to decide if you should let pets in your rentals

Ultimately, whether or not to let pets in your rental properties depends on the type of rental unit you own and how comfortable you are with the potential risks. While pet owners can make great tenants, if you’re worried about the potential downsides, you might prefer to only rent to owners without pets.

However, if you want to earn more money each month, you can tack on pet rent and other pet fees and may even find pet owners are more likely to renew their lease and care for your property. And, if you’re having a hard time finding renters, opening up a place to pet owners can boost your applicant pool.

Before allowing any tenant into your property, be sure to screen new tenants thoroughly and reach out to previous landlords to find out if their pets ever caused significant damage or posed other problems. And if you’re a new landlord, you can chat with your real estate agent to find out how other investors they’ve worked with made this decision.

Luke Babich is the CSO of Clever Real Estate in St. Louis. Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.

Get Inman’s Property Portfolio Newsletter delivered right to your inbox. A weekly roundup of news that real estate investors need to stay on top, delivered every Tuesday. Click here to subscribe.

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