Investing Basics

Will a No-Pet Policy Harm Your Rental Prospects?

Will a No-Pet Policy Harm Your Rental Prospects
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Whether you’ve owned rental properties for years or are just starting to dip your toe into the water, the importance of having a good pool of tenants is paramount. You want to make sure that you’re selecting folks who are respectful of your property and pay on time, for starters. You also want to look for people who you believe will enrich the local community that you’ve invested into.

Table of Contents - Will a No-Pet Policy Harm Your Rental Prospects?

As a result of all this, you want to be very careful in your search for tenants about making any decisions that could conceivably restrict your pipeline of applicants. A pet policy is a tricky part of this. It can be a matter of your own personal preference whether you allow pets into your rental unit, but it can also be a business decision that needs to be carefully considered. Weighing the pros and cons of no-pet policies is a big decision that every property owner needs to make for themselves.

The short answer is that any restriction that you place on your rental unit is logically going to reduce the pipeline of potential tenants. That said, you need to do some thinking and research to determine if this is a risk that you’re willing to take. Figuring out what you value and what isn’t quite as important (as well as what’s allowed in your area) is the first step towards deciding on a pet policy.

Types of no-pet policies

No-pet policies are a bit of an ambiguous term because there are so many different types. At their most strict, they explicitly prohibit a tenant from owning any pet inside of the property – even a goldfish in a bowl would technically be against the rules. What’s much more common is no-pet policies that ban specific types or sizes of animals. You might be worried about pet nails scratching up the new hardwood floors, so you can ban cats and/or dogs. Or, you might be worried about water damage, so you prohibit fish tanks over ten gallons. All of this language can be built directly into the lease agreement that both parties sign when a rental begins.

As a landlord, you also have the privilege and responsibility of selecting how many of a certain pet you allow. One dog might not be a big deal to you, but three could be pushing it. Or, you might restrict by the weight of the animal, although this doesn’t always make sense. Huge Newfoundlands are known for being calm, relaxed dogs who rarely bark, while tiny little terriers are known for constant yipping. You can even prohibit specific breeds, although the legality of this practice can vary by location so be sure to check with local laws before you head down this road.

Legal variations to consider

By that same token, you should be closely looking into local regulations in any case. The legality of no-pet policies can vary by province or even by city. For example, in Ontario landlords are not allowed to deny tenants from owning pets under Section 14 of the Residential Tenancies Act. However, the exception to this rule is condominiums – Ontario landlords can still place pet restrictions on these specific properties.

In that scenario, you can still ask tenants if they own pets or state that you’d prefer that they didn’t, and as the landlord, you’re legally allowed to evict them if you find that you have an allergy to their animal. Beyond that, your eviction options are likely limited if you find that a tenant has a pet, even if you asked them not to have one or they misled you during the initial rental process

To make a long story short, there is a lot of legal gray area when it comes to pet policies that vary by region, so do yourself a favour and research it ahead of time to make sure that you’re not getting yourself into hot water by having an unenforceable or illegal policy in your leases.

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Pet policies and tenant retention

The other part of finding quality tenants is that, once you’ve found the right people, you want to keep them. The likelihood of reliable tenants living in your properties goes up significantly if you pick the right areas on which to be lenient. Let’s say that you do decide to have a no-pet policy at one of your properties. You have a family living there and they get a puppy in year three of their lease, but have never given you any trouble and have always paid on time. Is it really worth the headache of trying to find new tenants even if they’ve technically violated your request?

On top of this, tenants with pets tend to stay longer – up to four years versus two years for people who don’t own pets. The reason for this tends to be that it’s just more difficult to find a pet-friendly rental, so when people with pets find one that they like, they tend to stay longer.

Financial considerations

This one comes down to supply and demand as well. Since there are fewer properties that allow pets than ones that don’t, their prices are driven up by this lower inventory. Pet owners are willing to pay a bit more if it means that their furry, finned or scaled friends can join them. This can be an opportunity for you to generate some more revenue out of your rentals. You can also look into charging a deposit that builds in the potential for extra damage that’s typically caused by pets (chewed furniture, soiled carpeting, etc.).

Allowing pets into your rental properties is a big decision, and there are certainly pros and cons to both sides. Pet owners make reliable, longer-tenured tenants who are willing to pay more to ensure that their animals can join them. However, if you’ve recently invested in the renovation of quality, high-priced unit, the prospect of a dog or two running around might fill you with anxiety. Prohibiting pets will mathematically reduce your pool of tenants, but it all boils down to how comfortable of a landlord you are.

Should You Allow Pets in Your Rental Property?

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