Why Pet Screening is Always a Good Idea

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Why Pet Screening is Always a Good Idea

Maximizing the benefits of being a pet-friendly rental space leads to better rental investment returns and more potential renters. But keep in mind that accommodating pets require utmost preparation. It’s, therefore, good practice to create a pet screening procedure.

Having a thorough pet screening process will help to deter any renter property damage and help you access a prospective tenant’s pet. You might also deal with potential noise complaints from other renters or neighbors. Thus, it’s best to have a solid pet screening process before permitting a pet to stay in your rental space. 

If you want to learn about the importance of pet screenings keep on reading!

Advantages of Welcoming Pets in Your Rental

There are several advantages to allowing pets in your rental properties, for instance: 

Residents Will Likely Stay Longer

Since the pet owners’ priority is keeping their pets comfortable and in a familiar environment, they won’t be changing rentals often. As long as their pets are taken care of, they’re more likely to stick around for the long term.

You Could Gain a Broader Tenant Selection 

Being open to accepting tenants with pets increases your chances of finding more high-quality renters to choose from. There are only a limited number of dwellings that allow tenants with pets, so you stand to gain a wider demographic to sign a lease with you. 

You Tend to Attract Responsible Tenants 

Given that caring for a pet requires tons of responsibility and financial stability, pet owners are often likely to fulfill their tenant duties well.

person in blue jeans sitting on a dark couch with their dog

What is Pet Screening?

In the same manner that you’ll screen renters before allowing them inside your rental property, the same rationale is applied with pet screening. You’ll need to review the background of the pet or engage the services of a third-party provider to do so. It’s vital to know about the health, the pet’s behavior, and personality of the pet before welcoming them into the rental unit. 

Pet Screening Process

Pet screening can be done by arranging for a face-to-face meeting with the animals, requiring an application form, and requesting health screening documents from the prospective tenants. A landlord can screen pets themselves or hire a third-party provider to perform it. For those who prefer doing it on their own, you can begin by creating a pet questionnaire.

Pet Screening Questionnaire

A questionnaire provides vital information about the pet, such as: 

  • The type of animal and breed
  • Weight
  • Age
  • Length of pet ownership
  • Proof of vaccines
  • House-training
  • Behavior issues

You can also have a set of questions specific to dogs, like:

  • Does the potential tenant plan to spay or neuter?
  • Did the owner attend a dog training class or is planning to attend one?
  • Is the dog familiar with wearing a leash for walks?
  • Does the owner guarantee a pet cleanup for the property?

Landlords should similarly have questions for cat owners: 

  • Does the owner have plans to spay or neuter the can?
  • Can the cat use a litter box?
  • Is the cat registered and has an ID? 
a black, white, and orange can laying together on wooden floors

Meeting In-Person

Although on paper it can appear that the pet meets the standards you’ve set, there’s no replacement for personal screening. You need to determine if the information provided is true before allowing animals on your rental property. 

Remember that pets can get nervous when meeting new people and being in new areas. If you’re inexperienced with screening pets, it’s best to hire licensed professionals to manage the pet interaction as part of the pet screening process when meeting with prospective tenants.

What Pet Clauses To Include in Leasing Agreements?

Make sure to attach pet policies and clauses in your lease or rental agreement. Keep it simple and include the following information:

  • Type of screening applied
  • Types of pets permitted
  • Fees and deposits are to be paid as part of the pet policy

What Pets Require Screening and How Often Should It Be Done?

Be consistent with all of your pet screenings. A lot of things can also happen in a year so you need to update your records each renewal period. But the screening can be more simplified compared to the initial round. Still, you must know the current health of the pet to prevent future problems.

Guidelines on Service and Emotional Support Animals

Laws are not uniform in every state regarding the definition of service animals and their rights. Under ADA, service animals can refer to dogs fully trained to perform tasks for a person with a disability. These tasks directly relate to the person’s disability.

two grey dogs lying next to each other on a couch

Obtaining a letter from the tenant or mental health professional can be among your requirements to ensure that there’s a need for a service animal. You can ask for identification and records of the service animal but you can’t request to check up on a tenant’s medical files or require a pet deposit. If property damage occurs by the pet that’s beyond wear and tear, the tenant remains accountable.

How to Handle Pet Fees and Deposits?

Pet screening entails costs and you can collect pet fees to pay for it. But you can’t charge tenants who bring in service animals on the property. It’s best to research the local laws first before collecting a pet fee, pet rent, or pet security deposit from your tenants.

In general, there are three types of pet fees that you can charge:

  • A one-time fee is mostly non-refundable and paid at the beginning of the lease. It covers the pet for the entire tenancy period. Review your local state laws first before collecting a one-time fee as some states ban non-refundable fees.
  • Monthly pet rent is an additional fee on top of the regular rent paid to the landlord each month.
  • The pet deposit is separate from the security deposit required at the start of the lease. This deposit is refundable if the property remains in a superb state.

Bottom Line

Even if risks surround a landlord when welcoming tenants with pets, they can be managed if you have a proper pet screening system. If you’re looking for a trusted property manager to handle your pet-friendly rental, contact JMAX Property Management today!