Offering a pet-friendly rental home is a great way for property owners to increase their profits and attract more tenants. Portland is a popular city for pets. A majority of people living here have at least one pet.
This presents you with an opportunity when it comes to your investment property.
When investors and owners ask us about pets, we recommend allowing them. When you welcome tenants and their animals into your Portland rental property, you’ll find you rent the home faster and often to better residents. You’ll earn more money and you’ll have less turnover.
Of course, pets come with risks. They can damage property and they can cause harm to people. But, we have found in our professional property management experience that responsible pet owners far outnumber those who cannot be trusted to maintain control over their pets. A lot of the pet owners we work with invest a lot of time, love, and money into the care of their animals. They’re part of the family. And, when it’s time to look for a new rental home, they won’t consider any properties that don’t allow pets.
With a strong pet policy and some proactive pet screening, you can welcome pets into your property without a lot of risks. Here are the main benefits of being a pet-friendly property owner.
Financial Advantages: Pet Deposits and Pet Rent
By allowing pets, you can increase what you earn. Rental homes have higher rental values when there’s a pet in place.
Over the last few years, legislation has been introduced prohibiting pet fees in Oregon. Those laws have not been passed, and you can charge a pet fee or a deposit when tenants are moving in with pets. You can also charge pet rent every month.
Here’s how it works:
Pet fees are nonrefundable. You’ll collect a fee before the tenant moves into your property.
Pet deposits are sometimes easier for landlords in Portland. You don’t have to worry about the legal challenges that may come up around pet fees, especially if legislation banning them eventually passes.
With a pet deposit, your tenant will pay the deposit before moving in, but you’ll only be able to use the money to pay for pet-related damage. You’ll have to return anything that wasn’t used at the end of the lease term because non-refundable deposits are not allowed under Oregon landlord and tenant law.
So, you may charge a $250 refundable pet deposit. If your tenant’s dog chews a hole in a wall and you pay $150 to repair it, you’ll need to return the remaining $100 from the pet deposit.
Some owners prefer to charge the deposit instead of the fee because they believe the hope of getting the pet deposit back will incentivize tenants to keep a close eye on their pets and not allow any damage.
You can also charge pet rent. This is paid every month that the tenant is living in the property with their pet. Typically, pet rent in Portland ranges from $10 per month to $30 a month. Usually, it’s a per-pet fee, and you’ll add this amount to the rent you collect every month, giving you more income and a bit of a reserve in case you need to do cleaning or make repairs that are due to the pets.
Most tenants who have pets are willing to pay more to live with their furry family members. Make sure you include all of the pet deposits and rent you’ll be collecting in your lease agreement. Discuss these things with your tenants before they move in so there are no surprises.
Opening Your Portland Rental Property to More Tenants
Another advantage of being pet friendly is that it opens up your rental property to a larger pool of potential tenants. According to the National Pet Owners Survey, 68 percent of U.S. households own at least one pet. That number is probably higher in Portland.
Therefore, by not allowing pets you’re essentially eliminating over two-thirds of potential tenants from considering your property. That’s not great for your leasing process or your vacancy rate.
Allowing pets will result in a faster rental process. Not allowing pets in your rental property will lead to longer vacancies. It may take you extra time to find a tenant who isn’t moving in with a pet.
Let your marketing reflect that you’re willing to consider pets.
That will draw more prospective tenants to your listing.
When you’re considering pets, think about what vacancy costs you. Pets invite shorter vacancy periods. You’ll find a tenant faster.
There’s also the matter of better retention.
Pet owners don’t move quite as frequently as tenants who don’t have pets. That’s because they know there’s likely to be another pet fee or pet deposit in the new place. They don’t want to pay that again. When your tenants are pet owners and they’re having a good rental experience, those residents are likely to stay in place. This reduces your vacancy and turnover costs. It eliminates the stress of having to find a new tenant.
Pet-Friendly Properties Promote Customer Service and Attract Better Residents
Allowing pets shows current and prospective tenants that you care about them and their needs.
This helps build trust and loyalty between you and your tenants.
It also attracts a higher quality of Portland residents.
A few unfortunate incidents aside, we have noticed that pet owners are generally responsible people who contribute to a positive rental experience. This doesn’t mean they’re all perfect, but if you find a tenant who takes good care of their pet, you can be pretty sure that they’ll take good care of your property. Good pet owners make good tenants.
Screen for pet care. You want to make sure the pets moving into your property are actively treated for fleas and pests and are fully vaccinated.
Implementing a Strong Pet Policy
Protect your Portland investment property with good pet screening and a strong pet policy.
Here’s how to put together a good pet policy:
Gather specific pet information for screening. On your application, ask about pets. You’ll need to know how many pets the tenant has, what breeds they are, how big they are, and how old they are. Ask for names and photos. You can ask for veterinarian information, too. You can require records of vaccinations as well as flea and tick treatments.
Set limits on the number of pets you’ll allow, and/or the size. For example, you can say that you’ll only allow one pet per property or two pets per property. You can require pets to be less than 30 pounds. You can require them to be at least two years old.
Check with your insurance company about restrictions on dangerous breeds. Everyone who owns a Pit Bull or a Doberman will assure you that the dog is as sweet as can be. That may be true, but insurance companies tend not to cover dogs that are considered vicious. You should prohibit these breeds or require your tenants to purchase additional insurance that will hold you harmless if something happens.
Conduct tenant reference checks with former landlords. When you’re evaluating a tenant’s rental history, ask current and former landlords about the pets. You’ll want to know if they were well-behaved if there were any complaints, and if the pet was responsible for any damage.
Get a photo of the pet so you can easily recognize the animals that are approved for your property.
Pet Inspections in Portland
Routine inspections are always a good idea in the interest of protecting the condition and value of your investment, and when you have pets in place, they’re even more necessary. You can look for evidence of pet damage. Even a drive-by can be useful. When you drive by the home, you can check to see that dogs are on leashes, and you’ll know that the lawn has not been torn up by the animals.
Implement some rules and standards for your tenants. You can require that all dogs are on leashes, for example. You can set up pet waste stations to make it easier to clean up.
When an Animal is Not a Pet
Service animals, companion animals, and emotional support animals are not considered pets.
You cannot prohibit those animals, and you cannot do things like charging pet rent or pet fees. The law protects your tenants against any such restrictions because these animals are not seen as pets - they are accommodations. Don’t forget that while you have the choice to allow or not allow pets, you may not prohibit service or companion animals when tenants are moving in with them.
If you’re going to allow pets, which we recommend, you’ll want to protect yourself by creating a strong pet policy that’s clear and consistent. Decide whether you’ll allow pets on a case-by-case basis. You don’t have to approve the tenant who has six Pit Bulls or a litter of kittens. Screen your tenants and their pets.
We’d be happy to share a sample pet policy with you or provide some insight on how to effectively allow pets without putting your property at risk. Please contact us at PropM. We’re open 365 days a year and seven days a week, and we’re happy to help you.