Pets are an essential part of many families. The majority of families with pets—and especially millennials—intentionally skip over any rental home that does not accept their "furbabies." It is in the best interest of your bottom line to allow pets into your Hampton Roads rental home—but pets are also a risk to your property.
There are serious liabilities involved with accepting pets, and implementing an air-tight pet policy as a landlord is the key to protecting your asset. Hiring a knowledgeable property management company in Hampton Roads to oversee your rental home can help ease stress and confusion over these liabilities—and their legality.
When you have a trustworthy property management partner, you can avoid potentially costly mistakes. As a landlord, what are some best practices you should consider when renting to a family with pets? Minimize your risk with the following tips from the Professional Landlords at Renters Warehouse Hampton Roads.
Implement a Pet Screening Process
There are many options for allowing pets in your rental home while still minimizing risk.
A detailed-oriented and thorough option is to treat the pets with the same regard as your potential human tenants. Requiring an application for each pet in the home is a way to keep a complete record of the happenings in your Hampton Roads property. In the pet application, prospective renters detail the behaviors and disposition of their pets.
Your choice of application can also be customized with such details as:
- Statements of where the pet is kept, and pictures of the pet for your property records.
- Pet owners must also provide up-to-date vaccination and vet records to ensure they comply with all pet policies.
- A detailed breakdown of your pet policy and the responsibilities of the tenant within the lease.
Charging per pet application and requiring updated vet records ensure pet owners are committed to taking care of their animals; responsible pet owners are more likely to take care of their rental home, too.
The process mentioned above is only one example of a pet screening practice. Using the advice of a reputable property management company in Hampton Roads can clarify which elements of a pet screening policy will work best for the needs of your rental home.
Restrict Specific Breeds and Species
An owner is ultimately responsible for their dog's demeanor. However, certain breeds have historically been engineered for aggressive and dangerous behavior. These "aggressive" dog breeds should be handled very carefully by landlords. It is a good idea to work with a property management company and your insurance to determine which breeds should be on your restricted list. To help minimize risk to you as a landlord, require qualified owners of high-risk breeds to purchase liability insurance for their dogs.
Birds and Reptiles and Amphibians, Oh My!
With the growing popularity of what might be considered "exotic" pets, landlords in Hampton Roads need to be aware of species beyond dogs and cats. Be sure to work with your expert property management partner to outline other species that you may or may not want in your Hampton Roads rental home. This awareness protects your property—and you.
Following City Ordinances
Your rental homes in any area of Hampton Roads—whether in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, or anywhere in between—must implement pet policies that follow city ordinances.
- Such laws may require all pets to be spayed or neutered or limit the number of pets in a single-family home.
- Some city ordinances also ban entire breeds of dogs within their limits.
- Inform tenants they must comply with all city ordinances.
If you're feeling lost, a property management company that serves the Hampton Roads area can guide you through the necessary inclusions to your pet policy to meet these ordinances.
How to Address Therapy and Service Dogs
Tenants who state they have emotional support or service dogs should be treated with the utmost care. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires homeowners to make accommodations for individuals with one of these pets.
As a landlord, you can require tenants to furnish proof of their need for an emotional support animal with a letter from their psychiatrist or physician. Homeowners cannot require tenants with service dogs to require evidence of their need. Service dogs are trained to provide help with a disability, and denying entry to them could wind up a legal headache. Since these situations can be very tricky, it's best to take guidance from an experienced property management company in Hampton Roads to help navigate the legal nuances.
Maintaining Homes with Pets
Once you have approved a pet to reside in your Hampton Roads rental home, it's essential to follow up as needed.
- At each lease renewal, ask the tenant to furnish updated vet records and pictures for your files.
- Routine inspections and walkthroughs ensure your rental home is being taken care of.
- Confirming that tenants follow your pet policies as outlined in the lease secures your rental income and propels you towards long-term wealth.
You don't have to deal with the stress and confusion that accompanies renting to pet owners. When you work with Renters Warehouse Hampton Roads, you gain a partner who can help you secure your rental home and guide you through the process. Our Professional Landlords have years of experience helping landlords like you grow your American Dream through Rent Estate™. Get in touch with us today!