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How to deal with tenants that come with pets

According to a research conducted by a website called, more than 66% American households or 85 million families have at least one pet living with them in their house. Therefore, it would be unwise to refuse a family that has a pet.

Since it is not in the favor of landlords to refuse a tenant, let’s learn how to handle a situation where a tenant/applicant has a pet.

When to Accept Pets?

There are no set rules, but it is advisable to always welcome pets in your property. One of the top reasons people prefer renting single family houses over apartments is because they want to bring their pets along with them.

Refusing tenants with pets can give you a tough time during vacancies. You just reduced the number of applicants from 100% to 33%. It also causes damage in terms of rent. Your rent may go down because its demand has gone down.

With multifamily property, the situation may get even more complicated. A loud dog can disturb multiple tenants or scare a potential tenant. It is even worse when the property is old and the walls between the apartments are thin. You would also not like the hallways of your multifamily property filled with cats, dogs and even iguanas. You should make decisions based on the kind of property you own.

Legal Considerations

When making policies for your rental properties, always consider your local and state laws to avoid getting into trouble. Just like anything else, there are some important points in FAIR HOUSING ACT regarding pets.

According to FHA, you can not charge your tenants with pet deposits and pet rent if they have a pet as a service animal, seeing eye dog or guide. FHA requires you to accept pets in the aforementioned categories. This applies to anyone who is in need of a service animal because of a disability.

This act is not applicable on “Emotional Support Animals” a.k.a ESA. Laws vary from state to state for Emotional Support Animals, so it is better to check local laws. Click here to read a detailed article about ESA on our blog.


Make sure to include a dedicated section on your tenant application so that you may be able to make things very clear before both the parties sign the papers. Details like the number of pets, nature, breed and approximate weight should be mentioned in a separate section on the lease and it should be signed by all parties.

Consider a reference from the previous landlord, or a vet if you are kind enough. This way you will be able to find more about the pet and will have more insights that will assist you in making a decision.

Deposit and Rent

There is no doubt about the fact that pets do damage properties. You might love dogs but they love to chew on different things including blinds for unknown reasons. That is why it is recommended to charge pet deposit and rent.

How much should you charge?

Though there is no set amount to be charged, landlords charge anywhere between $200-$300. You may choose any number but it is vital to charge both pet deposit and pet rent. Else, you will have extra repairs and you will be paying for those repairs out of your pocket.

Sneaky Pets

Some tenants do have pets but they don’t want to pay rent and deposit. Therefore they do not tell their landlord about their pets.

So it is advised to ask your maintenance professionals to take notice of any pets during routine maintenance checks and routine repairs. If they do notice any, make sure you ask the tenant to sign the paper and also notify them of lease violation in compliance of the state laws.

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