Pet owning tenants
Many families own pets and treat them as an integral family member. When such families begin to search for a new rental home, their pets’ acceptance to the property is a crucial determining factor as to whether they will be occupying the property.
Some of the often touted benefits to property owners for allowing pets:
- Lower vacancy rate;
- Reduced tenant turnover rate;
- Additional income from increased rent or pet fees; and
- Larger pool of tenants to choose from.
In addition, pets assist to promote a sense of enjoyment, safety and security for tenants.
Service animals include, any guide or signal dog individually trained to work or perform tasks for a person with a disability, and the work is directly related to the individual’s disability. An animal fitting this description is considered a service animal and should be excluded from any no pet policy clause.
- Although many property owners do accept pets into their properties others prefer to exclude them citing noise problems, hygiene and security matters. Property owners who do accept pets may include a number of pre-established requirements to minimize the impact that such pets may have on their property:
- Type of pets to allow (size, species, etc);
- Ensuring that the pet is licenced;
- Establish which part of the property the pet will be allowed in;
- Pet is neutered or spayed; and
- Number of pets to allow.
Steps to accept pets
- Screen the lessee’s pets (every animal has different physical and emotional needs);
- Have a written agreement covering pet related concerns; and
- Whether to charge an extra fee or deposit due to the enhanced risk from the pet.
One may consider including the following addendums to the tenancy agreement, including:
- Whether pets must be kept inside the rental unit;
- Whether dogs must be kept on leash in the common areas inside or outside the building;
- The number of pets allowed;
- Types of pets allowed;
- Requiring dog waste to be picked up and disposed of in a sanitary manner and cat litter to be discarded in sealed bags;
- The amount of any pet-related security deposit; and
- Require the names of veterinarians and substitute guardians in the event of an emergency.
In Malta there is a facebook group advertising properties that accept pets
Pet brought into the property without any authorisation
It can be understood that if a pet is brought into the property and has been there for more than a couple of weeks, the tenants will be closer to the pet than the property and thus asking the tenants to remove the pet is far more likely to see them vacate the property.
Casa Rooms property management experience (Malta)
Casa Rooms had taken over the management of a property from another property manager. Upon reviewing the tenant’s lease agreement and undertaking the introductory property management procedures with the tenants it was noted that a small dog, no bigger than a Yorkshire terrier, was residing at the premises. The dog was residing in the property in contravention of the agreement with the owner which specifically did not allow for any pets.
The tenants were young professionals with two children, and had bought the dog as a companion for their daughter who was finding the re-location from her home country particularly difficult.
The Owner rightfully needs to protect their property investment from the increased risk of having a pet inside the property and the options available to the owner included:
- increasing the deposit;
- extra rental charge for the dog; and
- evict the tenants as the lease agreement allowed the property owner to do.
It must be borne in consideration that prior to Casa Rooms taking over the property management responsibilities, the tenants had been complaining that a number of the property’s advertised features were not functioning. Although all issues were subsequently fixed, as a gesture of goodwill and long lasting relationship, the owner allowed them to keep the dog without imposing any further considerations on their current agreement.