Should I Allow Pets In My Rental Home?

Should I Allow Pets In My Rental Home

 

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!

Should I Rent It Furnished?

Should I Rent It Furnished

I am often asked the question whether it is better to rent a home furnished or unfurnished.  While there is no standard answer to this question, there are pros and cons to both that you should be aware of.

Furnished properties are convenient for a very specific type of renter – usually an out-of-towner that is only here temporarily.  These candidates might be very happy to forgo buying furniture, and they are often willing to pay a higher price for that convenience.  People in the film industry and mining industry often come to Vancouver and have their accommodation prearranged for them by their employer.  If you have a property that is attractive for these purposes, offering your home furnished could yield very good returns.

However, these types of people can be few and far between.  And for certain types of properties, they are almost non-existent.  If the goal is to have your home rented on a long-term basis and with the least possible potential for headaches, furnished properties are rarely a good choice.

In addition to shorter terms and worries about your precious artwork or new Natuzzi sofa, a furnished property isn’t always going to attract a higher gross monthly rent.  Why wouldn’t something that comes with more bring a higher price?  Because we are a nation of consumers.  Most of us have accumulated many belongings over the years – we like them and want to keep them.  Renting a home furnished means they would have to pay to put their things in storage.

For this reason, unfurnished properties are often in higher demand, and with a larger pool of potential renters, the amount of gross monthly rent you are able to realize is sometimes higher than the same furnished property.

Luckily, you don’t have to make a concrete decision!  Properties can be advertised to be available both furnished or unfurnished.  You can also negotiate to leave certain items for the tenants in return for some consideration.  By doing this you can maximize the potential pool of renters and your return on investment.

How To Avoid Rental Scams

How To Avoid Rental Scams

With recent stories like this and this in the news about unwitting rental hunters being scammed out of their deposits, now is a good time to review some precautionary steps to take.

There are a few variations of the scam, but most have gone something like this: prospective tenant comes across ad posted on Craigslist, they inquire with the number posted at which point they’re told to submit an application and a deposit.  If the tenant asks to see the property first, the “property management company” impersonates a buyer’s agent to gain access.  Again, a deposit is requested “to secure the rental.”  The ad disappears, the phone numbers are no longer in service and the property turns out to be not for rent at all.  The deposit goes “poof.”

Craigslist is indeed a good place to look for a rental property.  It has the largest inventory of properties under the same roof.  Most legitimate property management companies (including Orca Realty) post their listings on their own website and on Craigslist as well.  It is impossible to ignore the number of eyeballs it attracts.  For a property manager to not utilize this resource, in most cases, is a disservice to their clients.

So, as a renter in search of a property, how do you best protect yourself against fraud?

– Ask questions, lots of them.  If the property manager cannot give coherent answers, chances are he/she hasn’t been to the property.

– Ask to take a picture of the property manager’s identification (driver’s license) and ensure the name matches with that of their business card.

– Always view a property before you sign a contract.  If you are forced to rent sight-unseen, try to have someone else view it for you (this is what relocation specialists often do).

– Do not pay a deposit until you have a copy of your signed tenancy agreement.  Many property managers do want to ensure your ability to pay (especially for luxury properties) by asking for your first month’s rent and damage deposits before the move-in date.  The Residential Tenancy Act does not allow them to ask for anything beyond this.

– Ask to visit the property manager’s physical office to arrange for the signing of a tenancy agreement and payment of your deposit(s).

By taking these steps, you will ensure that any potential scam artist sees you as too difficult and they will simply move on to an easier target.  Do alert the police if you feel you are being targeted by one of these scams.  Happy hunting!

Vancouver Rental Market Statistics – March, 2015

Vancouver Rental Market Statistics

This is the second post for this little project.  I am attempting to track the rental market for houses, duplexes, townhomes and suites within houses on the North Shore. First, a disclaimer: these numbers are not intended to be instructive for the setting of rental amounts.  I strongly urge you not to use them for that purpose or in making any other financial decision.  There is not enough data available to create reliable statistics in this market, and the methodology is unscientific.  Instead, you should rely on the local market knowledge of a licensed Rental Property Manager for advice.

Methodology: Craigslist is the only source being considered for the time being.  I am filtering for properties that have 3 bedrooms or more and with a minimum price of $2000/month.  Apartments are not included.  Whether a rental property is furnished or unfurnished is not considered.  Properties with incomplete information are not included.  Listings that appear to be scams are also excluded.  Listings are collected from the 7 days prior to this post.

Additional info: Both median and mean numbers can be skewed by just a few listings.  Values in one neighbourhood could be vastly different from those in the adjacent neighbourhood.  We are tracking listing prices.  Actual rental prices could be different for each property.  I will start this by focusing on North and West Vancouver only.  If it remains an interesting exercise, I may expand it to include areas of Vancouver proper. Data collected from February 23rd-March 1st.

Any month/month changes do not allow us to draw any conclusions.  We won’t know how accurate this is until we see many months of data.  Theoretically, unique listings should be rising due to seasonal effects.

Vancouver Rental Market Statistics

Rental Market Number of unique Listings Mean Rental Price Median Rental Price Avg. Price per Sq Ft.
North Vancouver  55  $3,927  $2,950  $1.78
West Vancouver  69  $7,730  $4,500  $2.32