Despite the sadness, hardship, and fear caused by COVID-19, there has been at least one shining ray of hope: the novel Coronavirus pandemic has caused shelters across the country to empty. Whether people are choosing to foster temporarily while they need the companionship of a pet during stay-at-home orders or they’re choosing to permanently adopt, we know as a Parrish property management provider that pet ownership isn’t a trend.

Beautiful young woman working at home and petting her dog

Having a fluffy, finned, or scaley friend has been a normal way of life for a vast majority of American families for at least a decade or two. It’s especially popular among renters—particularly millennial renters. Opening up your rental properties to renters with pets is, therefore, a smart move for any Parrish rental property owner. However, allowing pets on the premises comes with a caveat: you need to account for the history of any “pet renter” just like you would with any human applicant.

When you screen any potential tenants, you do so thoroughly and fairly as your Parrish property’s first line of defense against Professional Tenants and the damage they can cause. This same mindset applies to any prospective pet renters: without a careful analysis of their history, you might accidentally approve a fluffy “friend” that could severely damage your property!

Opening your doors to pet owners can increase your revenue in a tough time when holding onto reliable, long-term tenants is more important than ever. Renters with pets are often reluctant to uproot their lives once they've found the ideal home. Make sure you’ve found the ideal renter and their companions with the right pet screening process!

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

Start by Developing the Right Policies

Your lease outlines the behavior you expect of your human tenants—but it should also be the source of your guidelines for their furry friends as well. Ultimately, your pet screening policies are an extension of the protections provided by your lease.

Before you ever reach the point of needing to screen, take this time to define a clear set of expectations in your lease agreement for which types of pets are allowed. Ultimately, this protects you as the landlord from potential claims of discrimination.

When developing your criteria, consider the following:

  • What species or types of pet, if any, wouldn’t you feel comfortable allowing into your Parrish rental properties? Now is your opportunity to make it clear whether or not you allow large breeds of dogs or feisty ferrets.
  • You should also consider setting a limit on how many pets you feel comfortable with allowing into your Parrish rental property: no landlord wants to end up on the news as “the house with 42 goats.”
  • What will you charge for pet rent or the pet deposit? Define this now before you have renters so that you can enforce these measures appropriately.

What to Include in the Screening Process

Once you've outlined your pet policies in your lease, you can begin developing how you plan to screen any potential “pet applicants.”

To do this, you’ll need to gather a few, key pieces of information:

  • Prior rental history for the pet, such as former homes
  • Contact information for the pet’s veterinarian
  • Records of immunizations, treatments, and medical history.

This is an opportunity for you to rely on a Parrish property management partner: they can tackle the legality of your pet policies by reviewing what you intend to add to your lease. Having a professional’s perspective becomes especially important when you end up encountering exceptions to your rules.

Blind woman

Special Exceptions to Your Rules

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects certain classes of service animals. Currently, this protection only covers dogs and miniature horses that have been trained to provide assistance. However, the water can get murky when trying to separate service animals from emotional support animals.

When it comes to service animals, think of them less like a pet and more like a specialized tool—like a wheelchair, walker, or other support. By comparison, emotional support animals merely require a doctor's note—but when it comes to housing, they have the same protections under the FHA that service animals do.

This makes relying on a Parrish property management professional an excellent move for solo landlords who are concerned about running into the wrong side of housing law.

Let Your Property Manager Be Your Guide

For Parrish landlords coming through the COVID-19 crisis, the last thing you want to have to worry about is being on the other side of discrimination complaints that could cost you more income. Leave the worry and the work behind when you choose a property management professional to help you navigate the pet screening process!

We'll walk you through your current lease from our perspective as your guide in Parrish property management. Additionally, we can help you with the screening process for your human applicants as well! To get started protecting your rental property, get in touch with us. We'll put our skills as your Gulf Coast expert to work for you!

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