Property Management Blog

Why Pet Screening Is Always a Good Idea

System - Wednesday, February 22, 2023
Property Management Blog

With the rapid rise in pet ownership, it’s natural for renters to look for pet-friendly rental homes. As a landlord, entertaining the idea of welcoming pets into your property is worthwhile. Otherwise, you might miss out on the benefits of having an open policy toward tenants with pets. 

With a sizable interest in pet-friendly rental spaces, your market expands, leading to higher income, but this requires a firm pet screening procedure. You want to avoid property damage caused by undisciplined pets, noise complaints from neighbors, and bad smells. Hence, you should properly screen the pets before allowing them to occupy your rental home.

Advantages of Welcoming Pets in Your Rental Home

Occupants stay for the long term

Tenants with pets are unlikely to keep moving, as they prioritize their pets’ comfort. Since pets like being in a familiar environment, if tenants find a place where the pets have a good living experience, they will stick around.

Wider tenant selection 

When you’re open to tenants with pets, you have an edge over rentals that have a strict off-limits policy toward pets. You also gain better earnings with potential to set higher rents, as pet owners may have less options due to the increased demand

Tenants who are pet owners have a greater sense of responsibility

It’s not easy to take good care of a pet. You need to schedule feedings, exercise, and vet visits. If a renter is responsible with their pets, they’re likely to perform their duties as a tenant. 

Person at their computer drinking out of a mug and petting a dog

Defining Pet Screening

Similar to tenant screening, conducting pet screening is a vital task if you plan to welcome them to your rental home. You need to check the pets’ background or hire an external service provider to do it for you. You want to learn details about the pet, specifically its health, behavior patterns, and personality. 

To accomplish this, you might want to schedule a face-to-face meeting, require an application to be submitted, and request health screening documents.

Pet Screening Process

Property owners can handle pet screening on their own or seek a third-party partner to handle the procedure for them. If you intend to manage it by yourself, you can start by crafting a questionnaire.

Pet Screening Application

A questionnaire will help you gain a macro view of the pet by including questions on the following:

  • Pet animal and breed

  • Pet weight

  • Pet age

  • Length of pet ownership

  • Proof of pet vaccines

  • Pet house-training

  • Pet behavior issues

For dogs:

  • Plans to spay or neuter

  • Dog training class

  • Familiarity of dog leash when taking walks

  • Pet cleanup 

For cats:

  • Plans to spay or neuter

  • Usage of litter box

  • Registration and possession of identification 

  • Information on whether the cat stays indoors

Make sure to prepare your pet interview ahead of time and ask all the important questions to reduce risk. Once the application is submitted, you can proceed with an in-person meeting.

Gray cat wearing a blue leash

Meeting In-Person

Even if the pet appears to pass the standards, you need to personally screen it to see if the details provided are accurate. Note that pets can get skittish around strangers and new places so the first meeting may not be smooth. If you lack the experience, it’s advisable to hire a licensed expert to handle the personal interaction with pets for the screening process.

Pet Clauses to Include in Leasing Agreements

While the upsides are great for permitting pets in your rental, you should ensure your leasing contract has a section for pet policies or pet clauses. It doesn’t need to be complicated but it must contain the following:

  • Type of screening applied

  • Types of pets allowed

  • Fees and deposits to be collected as part of pet policy

Kind of Pets Requiring Screening and Frequency of Screening

You should remain consistent and screen all types of pets to lower your risks and avoid discrimination. Since many things can change in a year, you need to ask for updated files every lease renewal. The screening may not be as extensive as the first time, but you should require an update on the pet’s health to reduce future issues.  

Guidelines on Service Animals

Laws regarding how service animals are defined and what their rights are may vary, so it’s best to research Texas guidelines. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, a service animal refers to a dog trained to perform tasks for a person with a disability. 

Person standing on a bridge with a wheel walker and a service dog

You may be asked to provide reasonable accommodation for tenants with disabilities, such as waiving the pet deposit fee. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the Fair Housing Act to ensure you remain compliant with its guidelines. 

Dealing with Pet Fees and Deposits

Since you’re spending on pet screening, you can make up for the costs by collecting pet fees, except when it comes to service animals. Review Texas laws before setting a pet fee, pet rent, or pet deposit. 

Typically, three types of fees can be charged, such as:

  1. Pet fee: Often non-refundable, this fee is given at the start of the lease to cover the pet for the whole duration of the tenancy. 

  2. Monthly rent: Extra fees on top of the regular rent to be paid each month.

  3. Deposit: An additional deposit collected apart from the security deposit given at the start of the lease period. This deposit is refunded as long as there’s no property damage outside wear and tear.

Person writing on a clipboard

Bottom Line

You don’t have to fear the risks that come with being a pet-friendly rental. Having a solid pet screening system can help manage the risks and lead to more income from higher rental rates. 

If you have less time to perform a proper pet screening, rely on the leading property management company in Dallas, SGI Property Management Dallas. Contact us today and receive a quote!