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Becoming a Pet-Friendly Community: Good Idea, or Asking for Trouble?


Ah, pets. What to do about pets?


There are all sorts of policies out there when it comes to renting to people with pets. Some properties adopt a hardline stance: no pets of any kind. Some properties only allow pets that are in aquariums or cages. Some allow pets up to and including cats, but no dogs. Some allow dogs, but impose a weight limit on the little guys. Properties that allow Great Danes and Russian Wolfhounds are rare, but are out there. Expect a hefty pet deposit, though.

So what’s the story? Why so many different approaches to pets? What are some pros and cons? Read on …


Having a pet-friendly policy can mean more revenue. Some families treat their pets as full-fledged members of the family, and would sooner live on the street with pet in tow than live someplace that forced them to give the pet up. By advertising a pet-friendly policy, your property can be a shining beacon to those who are finding NO DOGS ALLOWED signs everywhere else they look. And they’ll likely spread the word to other pet owners who are looking.

More pets can equal a better community. There are numerous studies out there that show a direct connection between pet ownership and happiness. If you’ve got happy residents, you’ll have a happy property. Everyone wants a happy property. Also, there’s a greater likelihood that residents will bond because of their pets, meaning a closer-knit community as well.


Pets can be annoying or downright destructive. Some dogs head straight for the bed when their owner leaves and sleep until they come home, but some dogs will bark all day, ceaselessly, which can be a real headache for neighbors. Some cats only use the scratching post, and some prefer the unit’s lovely wall-to-wall carpeting. Even an unstable fish tank that takes a tumble can cause hundreds or even thousands of dollars’ worth of damage. Be sure to have a pet deposit in place, and make owners aware of excessive noise.

Some owners can be disingenuous. A new resident may hand over a pet deposit while showing the property manager an adorable teacup Pomeranian, and then after the paperwork is signed, sneak in their Great Dane under cover of darkness. If you suspect the ol’ bait and switch, stop by unexpectedly to see how the tenant is settling in and listen for a tiny yip or a throaty woof.

Whether you choose to allow pets in your property is ultimately up to you. Just as you’ll find pet-loving families who won’t move in without their beloved pup, similarly you’ll find families who prefer a pet-free zone, especially those with allergies.

So what’s your policy when it comes to pets?


Steve Boudreault
Steve Boudreault

Steve Boudreault was with Buildium property management software in Boston, Massachusetts.

  • http://www.mkasset.com Jared

    Great article. This is a very debatable idea when it comes to property managers. Yes, the idea of allowing pets in your properties can easily cause problems and more liabilities, but it may make your property more appealing to a larger audience. Thanks for sharing.
    Jared@ Property Management Services

  • Andy

    For easy to rent properties we often don’t do pets. But for the harder to rent ones we pets are on a list of things and owner can do to make there unit easier to rent.

  • http://www.teampatereau.com Susan Patereau

    We rent single family homes with yards. Those kinds of renters hve pets, so we allow them. We have a written Pet Policy and include a picture of the pet. It is “pet specific” so if the pictured pet dies or leaves and tenant wants a new one it has to be pre-approved before acquisition, just like the last one. We are “breed particular” and we don’t allow certain breeds. We also have a vet contact and an emergency person contact for the pet in case something ever happens to the human. We limit pets to 2 specifically identified and approved pets per property, and we charge $500 deposit each. We are always very positive and upbeat about the policy but some people don’t like it, especially those with banned-breed pets. Our rental market is tight so we get enough applicants for our properties. If the market changes we may need to adjust our policy.

  • Colin McCarthy

    Steve – good stuff. Don’t forget about legal implications of the animals as I referenced in one of my earlier posts. It’s also a good idea to tell the property insurer about a pet acceptance policy, too.

  • http://rmaproperty.com.au/ Property Management

    For easy to rent properties we often don’t do pets. But for the harder to rent ones we pets are on a list of things and owner can do to make there unit easier to rent.