Property management and pets are something we encounter every day from inquiries. And when we're talking to owners, they're often saying, "I don't want pets in my property.”
But pets are lovely things and not just as adorable and loyal companions but for property owners too! And in the property management world, they're great because they enable you to increase your rental property revenue. They're rent premiums, collect additional security deposits, and lower your unit turnover.
That's a key point here when tenants have pets, it's almost like the pets are their children. They are a family member's bottom line and with adequate training, on the owner's behalf the pet knows where the door is, they know where to do their ‘business’. The owner doesn’t want to disrupt the pet's routine so that often means a longer retention period.
Did you know that over 40% of Canadians own a pet? But when looking for advertisements for pet-friendly properties, they’re virtually nonexistent. When we talk to a property investor, we say, you’ve got to be open-minded, look at all the missed revenue opportunities!
There are ways to manage some of the negative aspects of pets on your multifamily property.
PooPrints is a company that equips property managers with a tool that helps you control your dog's waste in the common area lawns. And once the pet is registered with PooPrints, and if the landscapers find dog poop on the lawn it can be traced back to the pet owner.
It’s kind of like genealogy and fingerprinting for dogs.
People often come to us, and they don't want pets on their property. So we are adamant about explaining the benefits of being open to pets. They may have had a bad experience with pets in their rentals before but when you implement some safeguards that we touch on further on as a general rule, we do not see any more damage from pets than you would children. (often a lot less)
One way to put your mind at ease is by doing regular inspections on your property. During the tenant screen process, you can also ask for pictures of the pets to get a better understanding of the age and nature of the pet. If the tenant for example has a puppy or a kitten, you may want to be a little bit careful there because maybe their training isn't under control yet. But generally, we always say … allow the pets! Just to re-iterate over 40% of Canadians have a pet. So you’re essentially excluding almost 40% of the potential renters into your property.
Another point to think about is the pandemic that brought about a rise in pet ownership across the country. It also presented the opportunity for many to switch to working from home. A trend we think will continue. This means leaving a pet unattended whilst the owner goes off to their 9-5 is no more, they are further able to give their pets attention and guidance, again minimizing any opportunities for the pet to damage the property.
We've talked about some of the detractors to having pets on some level. Now, let’s talk about the benefits. What kind of revenue or income opportunities do you see with a rental property when pets are allowed?
Well, this is going to vary from province to province. You need to make sure that you understand the rules you're regulated by, depending on where you are in Canada, but some provinces allow for a pet deposit whereas some don’t. That pet deposit is there, so if during move out there happens to be any damage, you can deduct costs from there. Another review option is to charge a monthly pet ‘fee’. It's included in the rent, but it is an additional rental charge to have the pets, which will cover some of that. So those are the two most common ones that we see right now.
Something else that we do see more often implemented is a screening process. Just like you would screen the applicant, you can screen the pet too. You can ask the prior landlord how the pet was and you can explain to the tenant if you have any specific pet policies with that rental. Most importantly, just like you meet the tenant when you're showing them the unit, ask them to bring the pet along and meet the pet, which may make your decision a lot easier.
There are companies out there, more prevalent in the US than in Canada yet, that offer pet screening where they log the history of the pet. So you can now do pet reference checks.
So as you can see we are definitely for - allowing tenants with pets into rentals, the market is going in that direction and if you don’t go the change, you’ll find it increasingly hard to find long-term quality tenants.