If you’re like many landlords, you know that you want your property to appeal to as many prospective tenants as possible – but should you allow pets in your rental property? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to that question, but this guide will help you make the right choice for your place.

Should You Allow Pets in Your Rental Property?

There are differences between pets, service animals and emotional support animals, and before you decide whether you should allow pets, you need to know what they are:

  • Pets are companion animals. They don’t have to be trained, and they may be any type of animal, from a fish or an insect to something large, like a horse.
  • Service animals are formally trained dogs (according to the definition in the Americans With Disabilities Act) that perform specific tasks for their humans.
  • Emotional support animals care animals that meet a physical or psychological need for their humans. They do not have to be trained, and they may be any type of animal.

You do not have to allow pets in your rental property. You do, however, have to allow service animals and emotional support animals (and you’re legally permitted to ask whether the animal is “prescribed” to help the person in making a determination).

But is allowing pets the right choice for your rental? This guide can help you decide.

Related: Are you legally required to allow pets in your rental property?

Pros of Allowing Pets in Your Rental Property

Like anything else, allowing pets in your rental property may have some benefits to you, including:

  • More potential renters. If you allow pets, people with and without pets will look at your property as a possible place to rent. However, if you disallow them, you cut out an entire segment of pet owners who won’t even consider living in your space.
  • Increased rental income. You are legally allowed to charge “pet rent” when your tenants have animals living in the home.
  • Lower instances of surprise pets. If you allow pets, your tenants are less likely to hide them when they get them – and hiding them is a problem, because if you don’t know they exist, you can’t get a pet deposit or charge pet rent.

Cons of Allowing Pets in Your Rental Property

Allowing pets means inviting a certain measure of risk to your investment, such as:

  • Pet damage. Animals can chew, burrow, claw and stain your rental property. However, you are allowed by law to charge a pet deposit to cover additional expenses you may incur by making pet-related repairs.
  • Disturbances to other tenants. Barking dogs, noisy cats and chirping birds can cause disturbances to your other tenants.
  • Pet-related injuries. Though most pets are friendly and wouldn’t harm other animals or people, there’s always a risk that something could happen.

Related: How to find great tenants for your Silicon Valley rental property

What if You’re Considering Allowing Pets in Your Rental Property?

If you’re considering allowing pets in your rental property, you should require your tenants to have renter’s insurance that covers them (including insurance that covers animal bites). You should also check with your own insurance company to ensure that you’re covered by allowing tenants to have pets in the property.

Some insurance companies won’t cover certain breeds or animals of certain sizes, and some homeowners’ associations prohibit them from living in their neighborhoods. You should double-check with every interested party to ensure that you’re in the clear before you decide to let tenants have pets.

If you decide to allow tenants to have pets in your rental property, make sure you:

  • Have the appropriate insurance coverage
  • Install durable flooring that won’t collect pet odors
  • Install a fence around the yard to make things safer for your tenants’ pets and others in the neighborhood
  • Meet the pet before you approve the tenant
  • Keep a photo of the pet on file for your records
  • Don’t be afraid to ask specific questions about their pets, such as whether they’re spayed or neutered, if they’ve ever been in fights with other animals, or if they’ve ever harmed a person
  • Include a pet addendum in your lease agreement

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