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How to Properly Screen Pet Owners

basic illustration of outline of house with large paw print in the middleA common concern for most landlords is whether to allow pets to reside on the rental property. While it may seem easier to decide not to allow pets at all, you might be depriving yourself of the ideal long-term happy resident situation. Pet care does require pertinent questioning so let us walk you through the process of how to go about making the right decision for yourself and the well-being of your rental property.

Assistance/Service Animals

At Real Property Management Investment Solutions we’re an equal opportunity housing company, so we don’t discriminate against potential customers in the selection and screening process. While many landlords understand they can’t discriminate against prospective residents, they frequently aren’t aware that several of these very same rules apply towards animals as well.

Under the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, support and service animals are permitted to be on any property provided they are registered as a service animal for a disability with disability being defined by the FHA as “a physical or mental impairment which significantly limits a person’s major life activities”.

Before you inform a resident that they’re not allowed pets, you are still required to provide “reasonable accommodation” to residents with support animals. Service animals administered by the ADA are lawfully allowed anywhere and are described as a dog or mini horse that has been trained to perform work to execute tasks for the sake of someone with a disability.

Don’t confuse a pet with a service or assistance animal because you may find yourself in an undesirable legal situation. Setting up a pet screening procedure will help you determine whether the animal is, in fact, an assistance or service animal so you can act appropriately within the law.

Contact Past Landlords

Calling references is a common practice when considering applicants and you should use it to learn not just about your potential human residents but also about those animals that will be joining them. Ask about the animals typical behavior and demeanor, whether they found it to be particularly disruptive to neighbors or destructive to the property, and just generally how they got along with it.

Don’t be afraid to rent to those residents with medium or large-sized dogs as a result of unfounded fears. What you may imagine to be a frightening beast might just turn out to be a great big teddy bear that contributes towards a healthy and happy environment.

Include Pet Riders in Lease Agreement

A very important step to mention during your pet screening procedure is that you will be including a pet rider in the rental agreement. Including this rider ensures that the animal’s presence on the property has been agreed upon by all parties and has been recorded so that if there are any later issues with regard to property damage they will be properly accounted for and address. Some landlords will add a pet addendum if their current residents want to get a pet after they’ve moved in but it’s best to already have a pet rider in the original documentation.

Some fundamental elements the pet rider should include are:

  • Pet details – breed, color, gender, age and weight
  • Pet fee – if it is not an assistance animal you are able to charge a fee for a resident to own a pet on your property
  • Damage deposit- this deposit will be returned if the pet does not incur any damages during its stay
  • Vaccination list- have resident include type of vaccination and date

By having this legally binding document you are ensured that no extra pets can be added without your consent and that the pet residing on the house is fit to be around other animals and residents of this neighborhood. This legal rider will make sure that if any curve-balls are thrown, it’s the obligation of the proprietor to make certain that the problems are properly handled.

Take Photos of Pet

Another significant step in your pet screening process is to have your applicant provide a photograph of their pet. Imagine your surprise if when you arrived to perform maintenance you found out that the small Chihuahua your resident informed you about was actually a Great Dane.

By taking a photo you are effectively recording details such as the type of animal, its overall size and markings and any other important information so that what you may think is a small matter doesn’t result in a much larger issue.

Do More Business

Finally, having a pet screening coverage makes it possible to do more business. As you may originally shy away from letting non-assistance animals in your house, many possible residents search for single-family-homes to lease over flats based on having a pet. You are able to possibly earn even more money by charging a fee each month for their keeping a pet.

Pet owners are often more accountable than your normal resident. Should they take the opportunity to train their pet and are the sort to find proper care for them when they leave on vacation, these may just be the kind of resident you want on your premises. Even though this may not be the case for many pet owners, it is something to think about when screening both residents and animals alike.

When you rely on Real Property Management Investment Solutions for your property management services we do more than just respond to repair calls. We assist landlords and investment homeowners put responsible, compatible residents in your rental property and ensure that all possible liabilities such as pets are properly screened so that the rental experience is a good one for both you and your residents.

If you are interested in having your property managed by Real Property Management Investment Solutions, have more questions, or just want to speak to one of our team members, then contact us online or call us directly at 616-419-8880 today!

We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.

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