You don't have to allow pets on your property. But doing so will open the door to a lot more potential tenants. A whopping 67% of U.S. households own a pet, so unless you want to shut out millions of possible renters, allowing domestic animals on your property might be the best option for your business -- and your bottom line.
But you don't have to do it blindly. There are plenty of safeguards you can put in place, including limiting animals of certain breeds and sizes, charging a pet deposit, and even requiring higher levels of renters insurance to cover any damage.
You can also consider charging pet rent, a supplementary monthly payment to cover the additional "resident."
How pet rent works
Pet rent works just like your tenant's normal rent. You charge X amount per month -- sometimes per animal -- and it's due on the first of the month (or whatever date you choose), along with the tenant's rent.
Generally, landlords charge anywhere from $25 to $100 per month for pet rent. It largely depends on animals allowed, number of pets on the property, and the overall size, value, and condition of the home (meaning how much damage those pets could possibly do). Unlike a pet deposit, pet rent is nonrefundable.
Pros and cons of pet rent
The big advantage of charging a pet rent is that you'll have plenty of funds to cover any repairs or cleaning necessary once the tenant and their animal move out.
It can also give you additional monthly income and encourage the tenant to be more responsible with their pet -- no one wants to pay an extra $700 per year just to owe more in damages later on.
On the downside, pet rent might also scare some tenants off -- especially if you're already in a high-rent market or there are economic troubles in the area.
Implementing pet rent
If you do choose to charge pet rent, set your rate on a sliding scale. For example, you might charge $50 for one pet, $75 for two, and $100 for three.
You should also take a look at pet rents on other similar properties in the area. Since you're gunning for the same tenants as those homes, you'll want to be on par with their charges (or potentially even beat them slightly if you can).
The bottom line
Charging a pet rent can be a smart way to protect your interests while also opening the door to the millions of pet-owning potential tenants out there. Just make sure you're upfront about the extra charge (you might even include it on your rental ads), and set clear rules for how it will be paid -- and by when -- in your lease agreement.