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To “allow” or “not allow” pets in your apartments?

To “allow” or “not allow” pets in your apartments?

One of the decisions that all landlords must face when managing their apartments is whether or not to allow pets in their properties. There is no doubt that there can be a negative side to allowing pets: they can pee on the carpet, they can scratch  hardwood floors, they can be loud when they bark or run around the unit… You get the idea. But while the negatives sometimes outweigh the positives, with so many renters owning pets these days, you might be missing out on a lot of potential rental income if you don’t carefully consider your options.

There are two significant positives effects that allowing pets can offer. The first is that it increases your potential tenant pool. Since many landlords don’t allow dogs and cats in their buildings, those that do allow them get to take advantage of the pet-owning population. By allowing pets you could scare off some prospective tenants who only want to live in a “no pets” building, but in practice that doesn’t seem to happen that often. In reality, most people like animals and are fine with them being around as long as they are not a nuisance.

The other benefit to allowing pets in your building is a little more debatable. And that is that in many cases, pet owners are better tenants than non-pet owners (in general). That is not to say that owning a pet makes you a better tenant, but consider the fact that if someone owns a dog or cat, and is properly taking care of it, they are at least a reasonably responsible person. If they can keep their animal up to date on their shots and train them, they probably are going to be more likely to stay up on their rent than the average apartment-seeker out there. And if the tenant had the pet at their former apartment, that provides one more reference point to check up on their past.

Even if you agree with both of the above points, the question of whether or not to allow pets in a specific apartment is a valid one. While this is largely a personal choice, it seems that many owners who have new carpets or pristine hardwoods in a unit seem to shy away from allowing pets. Considering the potential costs of replacement of these materials, that is a valid concern. Perhaps making a personal list of cost vs. benefits would be a good starting point.

Whether you choose to allow pets or not, one final point to consider is that children can be just as destructive as pets. Maybe even more so. But you can screen any pet coming into your building and refuse to rent to someone on those grounds if you don’t feel comfortable with the animal (as long as you have a consistent pet policy). Dogs and cats aren’t a protected species (unless its a helper animal), but children are. You can’t screen a child and you can’t refuse to rent to someone because they have children. With pets you actually retain control. Some food for thought the next time you have a vacancy.

For more on this subject, read on about specific recommendations on creating a sound pet policy.

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Matt Kastner

Matt Kastner is an Investment Real Estate Consultant at St. Louis Real Estate Society in St. Louis, Missouri. He is also develops properties on the side through Threshold Properties. When he isn’t representing investors in the purchase or sale of multifamily properties, rehabs, foreclosures and other income producing properties, he is often taking on rehab projects himself. He lives in South St. Louis and has been in the real estate business since 2004.

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