Reasonable pet policy for a rental apartment?
June 1, 2017 12:53 PM   Subscribe

I'm renting out a apartment and several prospective tenants have pets. I'm a newish landlord and haven't had a prospective tenant with pets before (I also haven't been a renter much myself). What is reasonable regarding pets? Would love to hear from personal experience, either landlords or renters.

What is a reasonable pet policy for a rental apartment?
Do most landlords allow all pets?
(Refundable?) pet deposit, or not?
Should the monthly rent amount be higher with a pet - if so, how much and why?
Any pets to prohibit?
What sort of damage is typical? Do dogs do more damage than cats?
(N.B. In case it matters, this is a small 1-bed apt in a historic house in Center City, Philadelphia, with the rent set at the lower end of average.)
posted by ClaireBear to Pets & Animals (45 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I should also note that I am an animal lover myself and can totally understand wanting your pets to live with you in your rental apartment, so my inclination is to allow all pets. I just don't want to get burned because of my ignorance, hence this question. :-)
posted by ClaireBear at 12:58 PM on June 1, 2017

from renters prospective in our area, there are fewer rentals that allow pets than those that do allow them. not uncommon to see size restrictions on pets - say no dogs over 50 pounds. some places do breed restrictions probably at the urging of their insurance companies, so you might want to check with your liablity carrier. Most pet deposits are not refundable and a surcharge of 25-50 a month is also common.

i would say you would definitely want to limit the number of pets if you do allow them.
posted by domino at 1:12 PM on June 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

I have rented to many people with dogs (although I allow cats too, no one ever had one). I do an extra pet deposit, half of which is non-refundable. My properties do not have carpeting so potential damage to floors is minimal. I have only rented to "older" dogs and have never had a puppy. I would likely rate a prospective tenant with a puppy lower because of the puppy.

I have never had a pet do any damage per se, but they make a place dirtier, which I only notice when tenants move out without cleaning properly.
posted by murrey at 1:13 PM on June 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

An extra refundable pet deposit is the norm. My landlords have all had a $250 pet deposit (for 1-2 bedroom apts). I know some people that pay extra rent per pet, but I think having a deposit makes people think about what their pets are doing to the apartment more than if it is just included in the rent.

I also like to think that fewer restrictions on pets in housing helps get animals out of the shelter and into homes.
posted by Katie8709 at 1:16 PM on June 1, 2017 [5 favorites]

As a former renter, we always either had to put down a larger deposit and also pay a monthly "pet rent" fee, which was usually about $50 (Boston area).

Potential damage/issues:

- Pee/poop either inside the apartment or on the surrounding property. Cat pee can smell really bad, really fast, and be impossible to remove. My second apartment apparently had a cat peeing in a closet before we moved in, and they had to not only remove the carpet but tear up the subfloor and replace it all to get the smell out ... and honestly, I could kind of always still catch a whiff of it. We only used that closet for cleaning supplies.
- Extra wear and tear to carpet/flooring. Some animals may even claw the carpet directly. Like my beloved asshole cat.
- Scratches or bite marks to molding/doorframes/cabinets.
- Flea infestations.
- Noise issues (barking dogs, howling cats, neighbors complaining).
- Nuisance issues if the tenants let the animals free roam.

My leases always had rules like our pets had to be up to dates on rabies vaccines, dogs had to be licensed, and all animals had to be on a leash when outside. I think that is extremely fair.

From personal experience, my cats have always done more damage than our large dog, but dogs CAN do a lot of damage if they put their minds to it. My brother's dog literally chewed the molding off a door frame because she got accidentally locked in a room while they were at work.
posted by countess duckula at 1:20 PM on June 1, 2017 [4 favorites]

In the Boston area also, and I found it has depended on the landlord. I've only had cats, so I would either pay a pet deposit that worked like a security deposit, i.e., they could keep if there was damage, or there was no deposit. I wouldn't rent from a place that wanted more per month if I had a pet. Usually there is a limit on number of pets, and the ads I see specify dog sizes. Check with your own insurance if they have a limit on dog breeds (some breeds are considered too risky to cover).
posted by clone boulevard at 1:24 PM on June 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the input so far, all!

Just wanted to clarify a few things that were raised, in case it impacts answers. The flooring is currently 0.75"-thick mid-century wood parquet flooring, and I understand that the original wood plank flooring is underneath. At some l plan to remove the parquet and refinish the original flooring, so I'm not especially concerned about minor damage to the parquet, as long as it doesn't impact the original floor below. There is also tile in kitchen/bathroom, which I am not concerned about as I plan to replace it in a few years.
posted by ClaireBear at 1:24 PM on June 1, 2017

Not a landlord, but have been a renter with cats: I think a pet deposit is preferable to charging extra pet rent - the former is an understandable way of mitigating the damage pets might cause, but pet rent just seems like a way of punishing tenants with pets, unless you specifically mean to apply it to damages.

Many people with cats have more than one, so a numbers restriction might be better as "two cats" or even three (I've rented with three, and no, I did not lie) if the rental has at least two bedrooms.

I was not asked for references, but it might be a good idea to have prospective tenants provide some kind of reference - past landlords, veterinarians, family/friends - just to have someone vouching that Future Tenant is a responsible pet owner. Even responsible owners' pets have accidents, freak out and claw the door because a loud noise scared them, etc. - but responsible owners act in a way that minimizes damage, by providing clean cat boxes, walking their dog, making sure the pet has flea treatments and - for dogs - obedience training, etc. You don't have to require many different references, just one or two, to screen out blatantly irresponsible people.

Finally, size restrictions - there are large dogs (like greyhounds) that are couch potatoes and small dogs (like Jack Russells) which are hyper and noisy. So size isn't an end-all-be-all as to whether a dog is suited for apartment life. Your insurance may have breed restrictions, though, so check with them.

I'm glad you want to allow pets in rentals - most of us pet owners are responsible! We clean up after our pets, deflea them, care for them, and want them to be model tenants!
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 1:26 PM on June 1, 2017 [17 favorites]

Single kittens are likely more destructive than kittens with kitten friends to chase.

The kitten rescue I worked with had so many single kittens returned that they no longer will adopt out solo kittens.
posted by amtho at 1:33 PM on June 1, 2017

the rent set at the lower end of average
several prospective tenants

No offense, but there's no reason for that first part to be true if the second part is the current state of things. Make sure you're really charging what the market will bear, because you don't want to be relying on deposit funds to cover every possible risk here, pets or no pets. This is a really common new-landlord issue in my experience. (I used to do taxes for a lot of small-time landlords.) If you've already advertised and have applications in, you may be stuck with this, but it's definitely a problem to keep an eye on.

Pets are a thing that can cause damage. They're only one of a small list of things that can cause damage, and I think landlords are prone to over-weighting the chances of pets doing it versus... well, literally everything else. This is not to say that pets won't cause damage; this is just to say that unless you know your tenants personally, you need to make sure you are charging enough in both deposit and just in rent to cover the risk you're creating by leasing this space out.

From my experience both as a tenant and watching many different landlords go through this, the best thing you can do to preserve the state of apartment is to make sure you are seeing the inside of the apartment regularly. It is very, very unlikely that your tenant is going to come in and have a cat pee in every corner in the first 90 days. The biggest damage comes with landlords who walk away and barely look at the place for a year, two years, because the tenants never called about maintenance issues, and then they find out that the place is trashed. Regular inspection provides you some insurance against things like maintenance problems the tenants don't mention or notice, not just huge issues like hoarding or out-of-control pets.
posted by Sequence at 1:39 PM on June 1, 2017 [9 favorites]

I had a cat when I rented, and I have a fair number of friends with rental properties, so I'm sympathetic to both sides. That said, I feel strongly that "pet rent" is an asshole move. (There are renters who keep their living quarters clean, mind their pets well, and respect the property. There are renters who have no pets but are themselves careless and dirty and will leave the place significantly worse for wear. Charging different tenants different rent based on arbitrary lifestyle judgments is gross.)

A pet deposit is pretty standard and fair IMO.
posted by desuetude at 1:46 PM on June 1, 2017 [4 favorites]

As a data point, back when we were outstanding tenants desperately seeking a rental that would allow us to have a dog, we provided an additional deposit plus a profile of our dog, written references for her and a letter from our vet. It is debatable how meaningful any of that is, but it did convey that we were serious about being responsible about the dog.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:54 PM on June 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Where I rented, landlords required a letter from a local vet, stating that each pet was up-to-date on vaccines and that you were a minimally responsible pet owner who HAD a vet and whose vet agreed you were not, like, starving the pet. This was so common there that all the vet offices could generate the letter automatically out of their software. You might ask around a bit, of vets or other landlords in the area, to see if something like that is common where you are. I had to provide the cats' county license #s (that they got with their rabies shots), a letter from a local vet (if out-of-area, they wanted you to register with a local vet within 60 days or something), and a $300 deposit per animal. (They often waived the deposit for a longer-term renter who was adopting an adult pet rather than a puppy/kitten -- if you'd been there more than a year and hadn't made trouble, you'd basically paid for your security deposit by not moving after a single year and forcing them to clean, so they'd waive the $300 as a courtesy for your low-potential-damage pet. That was a large corporate operation, though, probably a small landlord shouldn't waive a pet deposit!) Anyway, they did actually call the vet and verify the letter.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:57 PM on June 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

We have paid, at our last two places (atlanta) a non-refundable pet fee (which you could break up as additional rent over the course of the lease, if you wanted) in additional to a higher deposit. We had two pugs, now one pug and a bunny. Our current landlord was very uncomfortable with the bunny, as he has no experience, and the realtor actually wanted to come over and look at our previous house/cage setup - that made me incredibly uncomfortable.

I would find a letter from the vet or profile of my animals to be completely reasonable.
posted by needlegrrl at 2:01 PM on June 1, 2017

Along with consulting your local laws to see if you can reject an applicant based on how you feel about their particular pet if no pet policy was advertised (let's hope they don't think that's an excuse and suspect you of some form of discrimination, just as an example of why you can't make this up as you go along...) please also check with a contractor. The old parquet floors are likely not water tight, urine could seep through, as an example.

If it were a newer build, wood flooring on top of sealed concrete, no antique moldings or finishes, etc., then a reasonable pet deposit would suffice as long as you are following the law. You see may to be putting your love of animals generally above your other legitimate concerns. Being aware of the law in your jurisdiction and aware of the maintenance or rehabilitation costs for older structures does not mean you hate pets, it just means you are performing your role as an owner and landlord in a reasonable way.
posted by jbenben at 2:03 PM on June 1, 2017

I have always rented with pets. Pet deposits have ranged from $0 (uncommon) to $300/pet, with an average of $250 total. I have never, nor would I, pay additional pet rent. I have also been asked to have a meet-and-greet when I had large dogs, and have had to ensure my landlord that my cats are 100% litterbox trained.

If fleas are an issue in your area, even just in the summer, I'd add a clause that the pets must be on monthly flea preventative. I had a neighbor who did not treat her cats, and both our apartments ended up infested with fleas, even though I do treat my cats. The landlord ended up paying for an exterminator for my place.

Personally I find weight restrictions for dogs useless and aggravating (as a former owner of dobermans). My dogs were large, but 100% non-destructive and barked maybe twice in their lives, and I always struggled to find rentals. Small dogs can do just as much damage to a house and be just as annoying to neighbors if they are poorly trained. Just something to consider.

It can be very frustrating to find apartments that will take pets, so thank you for allowing them in your rental.
posted by tryniti at 2:47 PM on June 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

I am on a pet committee for a condo. When we were writing the rules, we were told it was illegal to restrict pets based on weight.

I spend a lot of time dealing with pet complaints. Most of them are about dog owners not picking up poop. One issue that comes up that I don't see here is noise. You might want to have something in place in case neighbors complain. If you memail me, I'll see if I can send you a copy of our rules.
posted by FencingGal at 2:51 PM on June 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Here is my unpopular opinion: as a small time landlord, renting out a single unit in a building with multiple tenants, you do not want to rent to dog owners, not because dogs damage the property but because a bad dog owner will damage your relationship with your neighbors and the other people who live in the building. I don't know the precise situation here--if this is your home and you're renting an apartment attached to it or if this is your apartment in a home that's been converted to condos and that will make a difference--but generally the problems landlords encounter with dogs are complaints from other tenants. You get bad owners who don't clean up after the dog in the shared yard. You get bad owners who You get bad owners who don't adequately control dogs in common areas when another resident is nervous around dogs. You get bad owners who leave dogs alone for longer than they should be left alone and they bark or cry or chew your woodwork. You get bad dog owners who let their aggressive dog bite a neighbor's dog. You can't really screen for bad dog owners and damage deposits don't help when you're constantly having to deal with complaints from other neighbors or your building's management (if you're renting out a unit in a condo building, for instance). Damage deposits don't cover the costs of turning over tenants because there are problems associated with having the dog.

A bad tenant is a bad tenant--and you might get complaints about a jerk whether they have a dog or not, but not accepting dogs eliminates one risk of a bad tenant.

Pets can do damage, but so do tenants. Like Sequence said, keeping an eye on the property is more important in that case than damage deposits (although those are necessary). I love dogs. I've had dogs all my life, but I don't allow dogs in my rental because it's a risk I choose not to accept.
posted by crush at 2:58 PM on June 1, 2017 [6 favorites]

Of course, if it's your home and you're just renting out an apartment attached to it, you have less to worry about because you're the only person who will have to deal with the experience of living next to a bad dog owner.
posted by crush at 3:00 PM on June 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

I find it interesting so many people are against pet rent! We have paid it almost everywhere we've rented, probably between $25-$30/month, and it has never particularly bothered me one way or another. I figure it's just one more thing for them to deal with/bother with and it's not like it's some huge amount of money in the grand scheme of owning a pet. If you already have multiple applicants, I don't think you need to worry about scaring anyone away.

We have also typically been asked for some proof of rabies vaccination (letter from vet or even just the little paper from the vet that says they were vaccinated and when it runs out).

For a one-bedroom apartment, I would probably put a limit of one pet. For cats, my understanding is that it's best to have at least one litterbox per cat, and it seems like it would be hard to realistically fit multiple litterboxes in a small 1-BR. And multiple dogs in a one-bedroom just sounds like asking for trouble. Definitely also talk to your insurance company about breeds/size to make sure you are covered. Some cities also have breed restrictions so you'd want to make sure you are complying with that as well.

I'd also just generally say, try to get a sense of people when you show the place and interview them. Most people are responsible pet owners, some people are going to be irresponsible about both pets and everything else. A pet reference could help with this, or just general reference from past landlords that aren't as specific about the pet side of things -- just making sure they are generally responsible people.
posted by rainbowbrite at 3:06 PM on June 1, 2017

As a pet owner (65 lb dog), I've paid a refundable deposit and I also made a resume for my pet with a letter from my vet saying pet was in good health and was being seen regularly for check-ups (indicating that I was a responsible pet owner), evidence of obedience classes being taken, and a letter of reference from my last landlord that said there was no pet damage to my last place. While dogs can be a problem if they have separation anxiety or bark a lot, spraying cats do far more expensive damage.

At a minimum, I'd get the last landlord's info and call them myself to ask whether there was pet damage. You could also request to do a periodic inspection (with requisite notice to the tenant) to check for pet damage.
posted by quince at 3:22 PM on June 1, 2017

One thing I have not seen mentioned in this thread is the possibility of requiring your pet-owning tenant to carry renter's insurance. The property management company from which I rented back when I was a student asked me to get renter's insurance when I asked them if it would be ok for me to get a pair of kittens. It cost me like $150 for an entire year, I think? And it covered pet damage, among other things.
posted by fancyoats at 3:24 PM on June 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

I think a pet deposit is preferable to charging extra pet rent - the former is an understandable way of mitigating the damage pets might cause, but pet rent just seems like a way of punishing tenants with pets, unless you specifically mean to apply it to damages.

I came here to say this - I happily provided pet deposit without a blink, even when it was one pet deposit for each cat, but pet rent drives me up the wall such that it's like negative fifty points to the relationship with the landlord.
posted by corb at 3:28 PM on June 1, 2017 [7 favorites]

I want to +1 what Sequence had to say above. You're a newish landlord with a historic home with parquet floors above original wood flooring. Do you have also original molding and doors? What are your long-term plans for this place? I'd be concerned with a dog chewing, scratching, and urinating and doing damage to features that you didn't intend to scrap and with a repair/replacement value higher than the deposit. I'd be less concerned with a cat, especially if you ask for a "pet resume".
posted by vivzan at 3:34 PM on June 1, 2017 [5 favorites]

Requiring rental insurance is something a landlord should do, pets or no pets. The last condo complex where I rented required it of all tenants. My monthly payments were quite small. I never had to use it, thank god, but it would have been a godsend if there had been a fire or flood or if my place had been broken into.

I've noticed that a lot of places where you bring your pet, where I live (CA), require that pet to have a rabies certificate (the groomer where I take my cat does, for instance). I think that's also a good requirement, not just for public safety, but because in order to have a rabies vaccination the animal will have to be seen by some vet, even just a vet-in-a-box at PetSmart, and IME the most negligent (read: troublesome) owners don't get their pet seen by a vet at all. So you are screening out the very worst.

Another place that I looked at when I was renting, but didn't wind up moving into, allowed adult, neutered pets only. That might also be something to consider. Yes, kittens (and puppies) are adorable, but they tend to be more destructive than adult animals (because babies) and it's not like a prospective pet owner can't adopt an adult cat/dog/rabbit, if they are going to get a pet after they move in.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 4:05 PM on June 1, 2017 [5 favorites]

UK tenant here. We paid a one-off refundable pet deposit of £100 when we moved in with a single cat; and agreed, when we move out, to have a pest control company in as a precautionary measure against fleas, and to have the carpets professionally cleaned (the last being a condition for all this landlord's tenants at the conclusion of occupancy exceeding one year anyhow), both at our own expense. We considered all these requirements to be entirely reasonable. When we approached our landlord for permission to keep rats too (prior to acquiring them), and asked if he would require an extra pet deposit for them, he granted permission and said the pet deposit we'd already paid for the cat was fine to cover the rats too without any extra charge.
posted by Morfil Ffyrnig at 4:24 PM on June 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

The biggest damage comes with landlords who walk away and barely look at the place for a year, two years, because the tenants never called about maintenance issues, and then they find out that the place is trashed.

I love dogs. I love, love, love my cats and cats in general. I have had up to 8 cats in my house at once. I have always rented. Landlords who rent to people with pets are beautiful angels. Pet deposits are onerous and feel shitty, and tacking on extra for every pet even moreso. That said, I totally understand why landlords do it. I do cat rescue and have seen some real horrorshows. Also, for some reason when landlords hear you have cats they think it means they can show you apartments with weaponized pee smell in the walls and think you won't notice.

Most pet owners are responsible people who also don't want to live in a pee-apartment. But Sequence is right that you can't pretend it's no risk whatsoever (though it's not like smoking or something).

So as a pet owner with a perhaps excess number of cats who has never been a landlord, this is what I would do:
  • Have the official policy be no pets until I feel comfortable with the whole being-a-landlord thing. Though if someone finds a kitten they get to keep it because I'm not a monster.
  • Non-insignificant pet deposit, with extra per pet.
  • Make semi-regular inspections a thing (irrespective of pet status). I'd maybe start once every 3 months and see how that works.
  • If I have multiple applications and I am choosing between a 30-year-old with cats and a 20-year-old with cats, well, I'm gonna go with the older person. IME, outside serious hoarding situations pee-small and damage is inversely proportional to age.
  • Rental insurance is required (irrespective of the pet).
  • What Eyebrows McGee about vaccinations and whatnot.

posted by Anonymous at 4:35 PM on June 1, 2017

I just realized that some of the questions asked of potential pet adopters, to determine whether pet owners understand how to be responsible owners and that they have planned accordingly, might be very appropriate for potential landlords.

I just looked through the organization's application. Here are potentially relevant questions -- you'll have to choose what you think makes the most sense for this context:
Who will be the primary caregiver of your animal?

How long are you gone each day?

Where will your animal stay while you are gone during the day?

What kind of lifestyle do you want your new cat to have?
What is your reason for this choice?

Where will the animal sleep at night?

How often do you travel?

When you travel, who will care for your animal?

How much responsibility will your child/children be given in the care of the animal?

What will happen to the animal if you have children?

How would you teach your animal?

What would you do if your animal developed behavioral problems?

Are you willing to take your animal to a veterinarian for an annual physical and vaccinations?

Are you willing to provide regular flea and tick prevention?

Are you financially able to support this pet?
posted by amtho at 5:15 PM on June 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

One other thing: our association has explicit rules that dogs are not to be left outside while the owner is not with them. I think that helps a lot (we have enclosed decks and it would be a serious temptation to leave dogs out there, but having the rule means dogs at least aren't living entirely out on people's decks with no attention).

We also have quiet hours after ~ 9PM at night and before 9 on weekdays, 10 on weekends. I think this helps too (people should be able to prevent their dogs from barking outside of those times, ideally).
posted by amtho at 5:18 PM on June 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

We allow both dogs and cats. We have a monthly pet fee of $50, but waive it after two years. We ask for first/last/security on lease signing and felt that asking for a large pet deposit upfront was too much, so we decided to space it out each month. We waive it after 2 years since it serves as an encouragement for people to stay with us longer and we get the amount we planned as a pet deposit in the first place.

We are also in Philly if that helps.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 6:14 PM on June 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

As someone with cats, I'm fine with paying an extra deposit but pet rent is absolutely a dick move. I refused to even look at places who charged it, because it meant the price was $40 higher for me than for someone else. "Want to live here? It's this price... unless you have cats. You can move in a partner cheaper than you can have even one cat, and you can also piss everyone in the building off by smoking cheaper than you can have a cat." Yeah, the cats are expensive enough, thanks, without an extra $20/month each.
posted by bile and syntax at 7:21 PM on June 1, 2017 [8 favorites]

Agreed on pet deposit instead of pet rent. It really does add up, and it's not like the pet is causing $30 of destruction every month.

I live in a place now that didn't have any sort of pet deposit or rent, but there's a clause in my lease that says I have to scoop and bag my dog's mess in the yard every time she goes. And I think that's more than fair -- I'd do that on a walk, anyway.

I've lived in a place that didn't demand that and it really would accumulate, and it's a biohazard anyway. Keeps the grounds nice for all tenants.
posted by mochapickle at 7:31 PM on June 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

I want to +1 what Sequence had to say above. You're a newish landlord with a historic home with parquet floors above original wood flooring. Do you have also original molding and doors? What are your long-term plans for this place? I'd be concerned with a dog chewing, scratching, and urinating and doing damage to features that you didn't intend to scrap and with a repair/replacement value higher than the deposit. I'd be less concerned with a cat

Yeah, I'm a dog owner and own a rental that allows dogs. It has vinyl flooring because my dogs destroyed the old wood flooring in my own home. It's not mean to not rent a place like this to a pet owner but it doesn't sound like a great fit.
posted by fshgrl at 7:57 PM on June 1, 2017

I think a pet deposit (say a week's rent above the standard bond) is a very reasonable approach. If you had carpets I would also suggest you insert a clause into the rental agreement along the lines of "the tenant agrees to have the carpets professionally cleaned and flea treated every 6-12 months for the duration of the lease, as well as on exit, with proof provided etc."
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:07 PM on June 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've paid a pet deposit & or 1 time pet fee in several rentals. I'd disagree strongly that you can't have 2 cats in a small 1 br. I think that vaccination records are a reasonable request though I've never had to provide them. Rental insurance sounds like a good idea but I've no idea if you can legally make that a requirement of a tenant. tbh I wouldn't be thrilled the the regular inspections mentioned up thread if there was no specific reason for it and I'd be worried that you'd be a nosy landlord who'd be in my space a lot. I've never had a landlord visit every 3 months just because. We do have inspections to check smoke alarms (annually), if there's a report of an issue (stuff on fire escapes, or if they're making upgrades (checking if you have windowscreens).
posted by oneear at 8:26 PM on June 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

You may want to check with your own homeowners insurance about breed restrictions. I rented a room out rather than an apt and five breeds were not covered. I also know landlords that have excluded breeds for the same reason.

I'm a renter with a dog. No pet deposit or rent in my current place but the other place I was considering had a $400 refundable pet deposit. No pet rent. Pet rent really pisses me off but the two year pet rent plan is a nice solution. I would happily agree to something like that.

Cats are more destructive than small dogs, small dogs are noisier than cats and big dogs, and bad owners are the worst of all.

Thanks for considering pets.
posted by cairnoflore at 9:38 PM on June 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

nthing that charging a pet rent is pretty awful and comes across as stereotyping all pets and penalizing pet owners. I would never live at a place that charges pet rent. I'd be curious to see data on the upward rise of pet rent and whether that's leading to a boom of 'Emotional Support' or 'Service Animals' (and the for-profit organizations that capitalize on 'certificates' for them). I know tons of otherwise responsible people who, in the face of pet rent on top of high pet deposits, claim their pets are service animals or emotional support animals to bypass the whole thing entirely. Often times the alternative is giving their pets up.

But I digress. FWIW, I do work in insurance involving pets, so I've seen a lot of property damage claims. IME, dogs and (free-run) rabbits cause more (and worse) destruction than cats. Claims involving cats are extremely rare and usually involve urine damage - as couches, drapes, ect. aren't something a landlord needs to worry about. Typically, the worst damage to a home itself (such as doors, molding, flooring, windows, ect.) is from dogs and is often caused by large, anxious, working breeds such as Huskies and German Shepherds (and mixes thereof). That's not to say smaller dogs don't/can't cause damage -- it just tends to be more urine-related.

That said, I think charging a pet deposit is reasonable, as is a pet interview (required by some apartments I've seen) to determine if an owner and their pet will be a good fit for your rental. A friendly, well-trained dog (or laid back cat) and attentive owner will be easy to spot -- and it also allows you to ask some of the questions suggested above to see how they plan on mitigating damages. I would also recommend confirming a vet on file but avoid asking for veterinarian records, which seems like an overstep and would make me concerned my pets' medical history would be used against them.
posted by stubbehtail at 7:33 AM on June 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'd disagree strongly that you can't have 2 cats in a small 1 br.

I had two cats in a studio and it was fine, they got along really well. Two cats are generally better than one because they'll play with each other instead of getting bored and destructive.
posted by bile and syntax at 8:54 AM on June 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

To clarify my point on numbers of cats allowed: I've had two cats in a one-bedroom and that worked out fine - I had a cat condo and enough vertical space so they could stake out their territories. I think that for three cats, a two-bedroom is better, though. Studio or one-bedroom: two cats, two-bedroom: three cats.

And yes to keeping an eye on the apartment, perhaps by an annual or semi-annual inspection, with appropriate notice. That will enable you to notice any hoarding or irresponsible pet issues right when they start, as opposed to finding out they trashed the place after they leave.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 9:06 AM on June 2, 2017

I think it depends on the cats, but I also tend to see that kind of clause in a lease as a way for the landlord to let it slide if there's an extra cat and it's not a problem or take action if it is. My girlfriend has three cats in an apartment that technically allows two, but they're all really mellow and get along and it's not likely to be an issue. When I first got my second cat in the studio, I was technically on a one-cat lease, but since my neighbors were literally neo-nazi crackheads who partied loudly all night, no one cared about my extra kitty.
posted by bile and syntax at 9:26 AM on June 2, 2017

"the tenant agrees to have the carpets professionally cleaned and flea treated every 6-12 months for the duration of the lease, as well as on exit, with proof provided etc."

Owners should clean the carpets at lease end anyway, and flea treatments every year when not needed is excessive - like using antibiotics "in case" you might have a bacterial infection or to treat entire herds of cattle "preventatively". Please don't do this.
posted by amtho at 12:07 PM on June 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

This probably goes without saying but make sure your lease contains wording that allows you to sue for damage to the property. My aunt cosigned her son's lease and got sued for $6000 damage that his dogs did to the apartment.
posted by bendy at 2:51 PM on June 2, 2017

If you haven't already, get your self the Nolo Press's landlord's guide. It will keep you from making some very costly mistakes, and help you not get sued. You've already gotten some good advice about pets, and I'd only add this: pets can do damage in places that you wouldn't expect. Against my better judgement, I allowed a dog in a unit I manage, and while there was no floor damage or damage in the other, usual places, I discovered too late that the dog had scratched the picture window in the living room when it had gotten overexcited about the mailman and other visitors. The building is from the early 20th century, and it would cost many hundreds of dollars to replace, so I ended up just leaving it, but I'll never rent to anyone with a pet ever again.
posted by pleasant_confusion at 6:37 PM on June 2, 2017

Think about how you feel about other types of pets, like parrots, ferrets, piglets etc...what about snakes and iguanas?
posted by SyraCarol at 7:01 PM on June 2, 2017

Response by poster: Thanks so much, all! Lots of helpful points to consider here. I appreciate everyone's advice. I've now signed a tenant who has no pets, providing a bit of an immediate reprieve from formulating a pet policy, but you all have given me some really salient things to think about as I come up with one for the future.
posted by ClaireBear at 10:19 PM on June 14, 2017

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