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The Pros and Cons of Renters with Pets

Pet ownership is climbing year after year with most recent estimates finding only 27 percent of Canadian households are choosing to remain pet-free. Over the last decade, there has been a 10 percent increase in the number of cats and dogs who have taken up residence with families. Presently 41 percent of households are renting a house with dogs, while 37 percent of households have at least one cat. With the staggering number of potential renters who have pets, can any responsible property owner or management company ignore this potential pool of renters? If you don’t already have a pet policy for your rental property, it may be time to write one up. Pets are now viewed as family members and, in some cases, medically prescribed support workers. The ramifications around renting or not renting to pet owners have become a hot legal issue. Is it time to make your rental property pet friendly? A quick review of the pros and cons of renters with pets should help to answer this question or at the very least help to establish a pet policy for your rental property.

Should pets be avoided when renting?

Every jurisdiction has its own rules related to renting a house with dogs and cats with some areas prohibiting the eviction of tenants for simply having a pet while others can legally have "no pet" clauses enforced with discriminatory practices that refuse apartments to pet owners and evict those who bring a pet into the rental property. Some condo boards have had success banning pets and there have been buildings that have been deemed pet-free for the benefit of severely allergic tenants. Moving forward, all signs point to the increasing rights of pet owners over landlords so keeping abreast of the ever-changing rules and regulations should keep you out of the courtroom.

The traditional view of most landlords and property managers is that pets are to be avoided and when weighing the pros and cons of having a dog in an apartment, it seems to be all cons. Everybody has seen pictures of properties destroyed by irresponsible pet owners or has experienced firsthand the damage to floors, yards, and carpets that an inadequately supervised dog or cat can inflict. This can translate into lowered property values, expensive repairs, and lost revenue. What possible pros could there be to exposing your investment to these unnecessary risks?

Cons of avoiding renters with Pets

Quite simply, with over 70 percent of Canadian households having pets you might be severely limiting your potential pool of renters, resulting in your property not maximizing its full rental potential. There is a perception that pets automatically equate to damage and problems but this cannot be the case when three-quarters of Canadians have a pet. Responsible pet owners are more likely to stay in the unit longer as the available pet-friendly options are few and far between. Pet owners, statistically, make more money which translates into rents paid in full and on time. The real issue is finding good quality tenants whether they are renting a house with dogs or may not be as important as traditionally believed. Thousands of good-quality tenants have pets. Any landlord who makes their rental property pet-friendly for these people and pets may find that they can charge a premium, especially in markets where there are few pet-friendly options.

It's time to rethink the pet policy for your rental property and to determine your rights and responsibilities to pet-owning prospective tenants. You can be brought kicking and screaming into the future but pets and legislation protecting the rights of pet owners are only going to increase. The most prudent move might be to embrace this underserved market by developing pet policies that attract a premium in your market and reap the rewards of making your rental property pet friendly.


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