As a Gwinnett County property owner or manager, you need to make certain expectations with your renters from your first interaction. A reoccurring issue that arises with potential tenants is having an unclear pet policy. The choice to allow pets in your rental home is one that only you can make. Both options have pros and cons, which can sometimes make it more challenging to make a hard-and-fast decision. If you do decide to allow pets, you need to have your pet policy clearly outlined and be prepared to discuss it with your renter when they sign the lease. Include guidelines such as what type and how many pets are allowed, pet deposits and fees, monthly charges, vaccination and behavior requirements, how you’ll handle complaints, and the consequences for violating your pet policy. Below, we’ll go through each of these in more context to ensure your pet policy is perfect!
Type and Number of Pets
Pets are different to everyone; a snake might just be an outdoor menace to you, but to some, their pet snake is like their child! Pets do not just define as cats and dogs. If your property does not allow pets of any kind, it needs to be clearly stated in the lease agreement so there are no misunderstandings down the line. Your pet policy should provide information regarding any restrictions; including animal type, breed, or size restrictions and how many pets are allowed. Be sure to check local pet laws/regulations and include them in your documents as well if necessary. Smaller pets, like birds, fish, and hamsters, are very common, so make sure to mention these kinds of pets in your lease documents so you don’t find any surprises one day!
Pet Deposit/Fee and Monthly Rent
One of the drawbacks of allowing pets on the property is that unfortunately pets often lead to harm that may be more severe than usual wear and tear. Because of this, most rental property owners will charge a pet deposit or fee in addition to the standard security deposit. Many owners and managers will also charge additional pet rent monthly to help include the additional property maintenance and repair costs. While the amount you charge is up to, it’s a good idea to do some research and see what other Gwinnett County property managers charge for pets and follow suit.
Vaccination and Behavior Requirements
In addition to the financial responsibilities of rental pet owners, be sure to include any other requirements related to keeping pets in your lease. For example, many cities and counties have vaccination and licensing regulations, especially for dogs. By including your local regulations in your lease and requiring your renter to follow them, you can better protect yourself and your property from potential legal issues. The same thing is true for pet behavior. In your lease, be sure to specify any restrictions on pets’ behaviors, such as excessive barking, allowing pets outside or off leash, or other potentially problematic behaviors. Outline clear consequences for violations of these and all requirements to help enforce your lease more easily.
Even though your renter may love their pets, the neighbors could be less happy to have them there. Pet complaints can be difficult to handle because common complaints, such as excessive barking or pets roaming unleashed, are not things that the rental property owner has direct control over. You can only set clear expectations with your renter about properly securing and leashing their pet and taking steps to keep their pet from making too much noise. Furthermore, devise a strategy to deal with repeated complaints, such as a system to issue warnings before going straight to breach of contract. This tactic may motivate your renter to be a more responsible pet owner.
Consequences for Violations
Even if setting clear expectations can help lessen the potential for renters to abuse your pet policy, they may still violate it anyway. One of the more common things renters will try is to sneak additional pets onto the property so they don’t have to pay the additional fees. Unauthorized pets are always a concern for landlords, whether you allow pets or not. Suppose your renter has too many pets, has an unauthorized species or breed, or otherwise violated your pet policy. In that case, you should document the situation carefully and notify the renter of the violation. If your state laws allow it, you could even include a fine for pet policy violations in your lease, which may offer an even stronger incentive for your renter to abide by the terms of their lease. Depending on the number and severity of the violation, you should then take the appropriate action.
Allowing pets in your rental property can be good for your profits and tenant relations. But, you need a clear and detailed pet policy that will help you establish and manage your tenant’s expectations right from the beginning. Doing so eliminates any misunderstandings or confusion down the line.
If you are looking to purchase a rental property in the Gwinnett area and need some professional management assistance, contact us today and we will be glad to guide you through the process!
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