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Pets in rental property

Written by SJA Property Management

SJA offers premier Seattle property management services and serves as the local real estate industry’s most experienced resource for rental property owners.

Whether you’re hiring a professional Issaquah property management company or doing the work yourself, you’re still going to have to decide whether or nor you want to accept pets or smokers in your home.

Because there are pros and cons to each, you can make a personal decision for each of the separate units that you own based on the various considerations and the property.

Pros of Allowing Pets and Smokers

The biggest pro of allowing pets and smokers in your property is that it makes your units more in demand. Because many apartments do not allow pets, and many more do not allow smokers, there is a very high demand for units that do, especially those that allow both. Essentially, you can rent out your units more quickly and sometimes even charge a slightly higher rent rate for the convenience. Because some 50% of landlords don’t allow pets, and a study showed that some 30% of the renters in Seattle would own a pet if their landlord allowed it, you will greatly increase the perceived value of your units by allowing pets. Because you generally charge a pet deposit for pets, any damage caused by said pet is not typically a concern.

Cons of Allowing Pets and Smokers

Allowing smokers and pets into an apartment or home raises the risk of damage caused to the property, and therefore raises the insurance. In most cases, you can add this extra amount to the rent rate and explain to the tenants what difference they are paying. Smoking does raise the risk of a fire in a home and typically creates a smell that nonsmokers find unpleasant. Over time, it can become very difficult to remove the smell of smoke from a unit, so if you set a unit as ‘for smokers’ then it should remain that way. For pets, the main risks include noise complaints, damage, and tenant conflicts.

Unfortunately, deciding whether you want pets and smokers in your units is still a personal decision. While the majority of smokers do not cause damage, some of them do and they often do not pay for any damage that they cause, which means that you need insurance to cover smokers. If you add this to the tenant bill then it is no problem, and greatly increases the number of tenants who will want your property.

For pets, you can mitigate risks by charging a pet deposit, creating leash laws, and if you find it necessary, allowing some types of pets (such as cats and reptiles) rather than loud pets like dogs. However, because the majority of pet owners do own dogs, this would reduce your potential tenant increase. Consider your property, what other tenants you have if any, and the history of the unit. If the property is very new and in great condition then allowing pets and smokers may not be in your best interest, unless you want to charge a great deal extra for it, but if it’s older, has housed smokers in the past, or has a garden, then you have no real reasons not to if you take precautionary steps when you let the unit.

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