Whether or not to accept tenant applications with pets is an issue that every landlord has to ask themselves before listing their property. The usual response to the question is a direct “no way”.
Of course, there are good reasons for this. Who would want to take the risk that someone’s poorly trained cat or dog is going to inflict significant damage to their home – beyond what can be recovered from pet and damage deposits? A high-end wood or laminate floor could require refinishing or replacing from excessive scratches. Carpet could get stained and destroyed. The smell of pets can linger for weeks or months after they move out, potentially scaring away future tenants. All sorts of horror stories can be thought of without much effort.
However, even with all of those risks, offering your home to potential tenants with pets might still be the correct course of action. Why? A few reasons.
First, if other landlords (your competition for good tenants) are also forbidding pets, then you are increasing the pool of potential candidates. By how much? Based on a poll and using 2006 census data, 36% of Vancouver households have a dog. National numbers put a similar number of homes with cats. If we assume at least half have both cats and dogs, then over 50% of households have either a cat or a dog. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to increase that number in suburban areas that are more pet-friendly environments than the downtown core, for example. Suffice to say, you are at least doubling the number of potential tenants by keeping an open mind about allowing pets.
If so many other landlords are forbidding pets, the law of supply and demand dictates that the price you are able to receive for a pets allowed property is very likely higher than otherwise. More people chasing fewer properties will drive the price of those properties higher. Expecting a 10% increase in rental income is not a stretch. With this added income, in addition to the protection of damage and pet deposits, a good justification can be made to allow pets. Just a couple years could cover the cost of completely re-doing your flooring, should that be necessary.
Another reason for considering pet owners as your tenants is not as easy to quantify. It is commonly held that pet owners (dog owners in specific) are more reliable, and more responsible than those without a furry friend. While this certainly doesn’t hold across the board, there is some element of truth to it. A pet can be a stabilizing influence. Drug addicts, transients, and those without stable employment can’t usually care for a pet. But those with pets are more likely to be in a stable life situation – a good quality for tenants in general.
Nothing beats meeting a pet face-to-face, however. An experienced property manager will always want to meet the pets, like they want to meet the family. How does the pet behave? How does the owner project their expectations, and what is the reaction? What is its breed and disposition? How old is it? Well-trained dogs are easy to distinguish with poorly behaved ones. A pet owner will almost always describe their pet as well-behaved, quiet and friendly. But nothing beats seeing for yourself. Just one more reason to have a property manager on your side who knows what to look for!