Pets are on the rise
The majority of Americans own a pet, and 83 percent of pet owners consider their furry friends to be a member of the family. These statistics published by American Pet Products Association are indicative of the trends we notice in multi-family housing.
As millennials are delaying home ownership and children, the larger apartments are attracting qualified tenants through dog parks and pet services. They tend to increase profits through these services, requiring additional deposits and monthly payments for pets.
As real estate investors, you are bound to attract more tenants by setting up the property to welcome pets.
Service and companion animals are not considered pets. On the application, a prospective tenant may not list any pets but have an animal for disability reasons. Under federal law 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(B), it is illegal to refuse to make “reasonable accommodations” to impaired tenants if the landlord will not suffer financial or administrative burdens because of those accommodations. If you violate, then you could owe damages to the disabled tenant. For additional info, visit the Assistance Animal section from Project Sentinel.
FAQ: What is the difference between a service animal and a companion animal?
Service animals provide specific assistance to their owners. Companion animals are not trained for specific tasks, but provide loving companionship to people suffering from depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, or mental illnesses.
I am not a lawyer (and cannot give legal advice), but I have never been an advocate for pet deposits. They can get you into trouble from an itemization perspective. When you are deducting from the deposit, a pet deposit can only be used to deduct damages caused by the pet. I don’t know about you, but a lot of times I cannot tell the difference between whether a child or a dog caused particular damage.
If someone has a pet, I combine the entire deposit into one security deposit. Then, I have additional reassurance that I will be fairly reimbursed in the unfortunate instance that a tenant does not return the rental to its original condition (excluding normal wear and tear).