When it comes time to list your beautiful Lakewood Ranch property for rent, there may be a significant detail missing from your property listing: Do you allow pets into your rental property?

Here at Gulf Coast Property Management, we get what you might be thinking when we ask this question. Some of your top concerns are probably:

  • The damage that pets could cause to your pristine Lakewood Ranch rental home.
  • The danger or risk posed by the type of pet you might permit (such as dogs or ferrets).
  • The noise concerns that come with pets—and close proximity to neighbors!

While these are all valid concerns when considering whether or not to open up your desirable Lakewood Ranch property to pet owners, such issues do not accurately reflect the majority of pets your potential renters may have. However, you can get around many of these concerns from the start by establishing pet screening criteria before you ever admit a four-footed, scaled, or feathered friend into your Lakewood Ranch rental property!

Attractive african american girl holding aquarium with fish isolated on grey

We Know That Pet Screening Works!

Pet screening isn't something you have to handle on your own, either: as your Lakewood Ranch property management partner, we handle the entire pet-screening process. We also offer the property owners we serve access to our Pet Damage GuaranteeIf an approved pet causes any damage to your rental property, we'll cover the cost. That's just how effective we believe the pet screening process to be.

An advantage of implementing this kind of approach from the start extends beyond knowing the kind of pet you're about to permit! This process helps you establish the kind of fees and deposits you expect your renters to pay as part of their lease agreement if their pet passes the screening process, such as:

  • A pet damage deposit
  • Monthly pet rent for your property
  • Penalties for violations of your pet policies.

Including these into your lease from the start is crucial if you intend to allow pets into your Lakewood Ranch rental property, and a skilled property manager can help you define these additions to your lease in a way that protects you as a property owner.

As a Lakewood Ranch property management professional, we tend to lean "pro-pet" for the many advantages that being pet-friendly can provide landlords. More and more renters include pets as a part of their extended family, and choosing to exclude them from your rentals reduces the number of high-quality renters you have access to. Millennials happen to be the largest demographic of renters nationwide, and it's well known how much they love their pets!

However, if you choose not to allow pets into your rental property, you need to consider what you'll do when you're approached by renters with Service Animals (SA), Assistance Animals (AA), and so-called Emotional Support Animals (ESA).

Portrait of a little girl with a cat

The Service Animal Difference

A Service Animal is not a pet. Even if you have a no-pet policy for your Lakewood Ranch rental, you have to keep in mind when dealing with SA's that they are a protected class of animal—more like a medical device than a companion. The only officially recognized Service Animals are dogs and miniature horses. Additionally, SA's fall under different legislation than Assistance Animals or Emotional Support Animals.

Unlike SA's, Assistance Animals are protected under the Fair Housing Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. These can be any kind of animal, from dogs to cats, and their purpose is designed to serve residents who might be suffering from an impairment, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or anxiety. Their role is very different from trained Service Animals, but they still receive specific protections. Like the above category of animal, you must tread carefully here to avoid perceived discrimination. In any of these cases, it's best to leave the application process in the hands of a skilled Lakewood Ranch property management professional.

ESA's are a "new class" of animals that many advocates for the use of SA's and AA's consider a non-legal term, and it's causing plenty of confusion in the housing world. With the ease of faked doctor's notes online making it possible for even potbellied pigs to skirt the law, the government is starting to crack down on this issue as it continues to grow worse. Until legislation is introduced, if you intend to follow through with a "no pets" policy, it's best to leave this matter in the hands of the experts.

Get the Right Guidance for Your Pet Policy!

If you've decided to allow pets in your rental property, you're making the smart choice to open up your Lakewood Ranch rental home to even more qualified renters! With the kind of Pet Damage Guarantee offered by Gulf Coast Property Management, you've got nothing to lose when you say "Yes!" to pets! However, not every property management company offers the kind of peace of mind we do with our property management services and guarantees; that's why you should only rely on the best.

Screening pets is not the only important part of the application process: you still need to investigate the people planning to live in your rental as well! While we always recommend working with a professional instead of managing this process yourself, a great place to get started is with our free Tenant Screening Checklist!

A quick note: The above article is not a substitute for legal counsel. If you need immediate guidance for successfully managing the pet-screening process, turn to the Lakewood Ranch property management experts at Gulf Coast Property Management for real-time assistance!

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