Apartments that allow pets were once the exception rather than the rule but much has changed. As a whole, the industry realized that pet-friendly apartments could be quite successful. Great pet owners generally make great tenants and allowing pets can make your apartment complex not only more appealing to prospective tenants but are livelier, more fulfilling place for those who live there. That said, choosing to allow pets is a big step, and you must ensure you do so in a thoughtful manner.
Know Your Local Laws
The first step to ensuring the best pet policy practices for rentals is to know the law. There are Illinois laws, Chicago laws and local laws that dictate what you and tenants can and cannot do. Your first step should be to ensure that any standards are within the confines of what the law allows. The second step is to ensure that your rules don’t infringe on the rights of the specific tenant or other tenants. Such decisions can make you liable, increase your insurance costs and undermine your lease. This why having a property management company in Des Plaines property management to rely on can be so helpful.
Set Specific Rules for What Pets Are Allowed
Most professional property managers in Des Plaines recommend establishing specific guidelines for what pets are and are not allowed. You can allow and ban an entire class of pet, particular breeds or animals that have certain characteristics. For instance, you might allow all dogs that are under 100 pounds. You should set your standards based on the environment both inside and outside. If there are multiple occupancies, consider how your choices will affect the other tenants. Also, limit the number of pets owned since a number too high can undermine any standards you set.
Interview Prospective Tenants About Their Pets
Be mindful that having one of the best pet-friendly apartments isn’t just about choosing the right pets but also choosing the right tenants. Not all tenants are great pet owners, and not all pet owners are great tenants. An ideal way to ensure a great fit is to perform an interview as part of the screening process. Questions you should consider asking include:
• How long have you had the pet?
• Where did you get the pet?
• Does the pet have proper licenses and vaccinations?
• How is the pet cared for while you’re not at home?
• Has the pet ever been destructive?
• Has the pet ever bitten a person or another animal?
• Is pet covered by your renter’s insurance policy?
Require Proper Licenses and Other Documentation
Chicago and most other municipalities require that pet owners have licenses, identification and other vaccinations. You can, as a landlord, leave that between the tenant and the government. However, it’s in your best interest to ensure that pet owners are meeting these obligations. Proper documentation demonstrates responsible pet ownership, and irresponsible behavior by a pet owner lets you avoid a bad tenant and may give you a valid out with a current tenant.
Charge a Monthly Pet Fee
Most state and local laws allow you to charge a fee above and beyond rent in order to cover the additional wear and tear. Fees should be based on an accurate assessment of that wear and tear. Charge what is owed to you, but keep that fee as small as possible. After all, that additional fee may as well be rent as far as the tenant is concerned, and the most pet-friendly apartments are able to strike a balance between an attractive cost for the tenant and protecting their own investment.
Put All Expectations in Leases and Other Written Documents
Defining your expectations as a landlord that allows pets is a good start, but it can’t end there. Every applicable component must be added to the lease so that the lease is defendable in court. A judge may not care what your pet limits are if they’re not explicitly stated in the lease. Be mindful that most tenants don’t read their entire leases. Therefore, you should create a pet package as part of a larger new tenant package. This should cover all of the rules that have already been expressed and agreed to. This will help ensure that there are no misunderstandings and begin the relationship on the right foot.
Consider Grandfather Clauses
You’re allowed to change your pet policies as needed. The best pet policy practices for rentals should stand the test of time, but you can’t account for everything. Things will change. When you have to, make those changes, but keep in mind that the law generally requires a 30-day notice. In addition, you should allow grandfather clauses whenever possible. These protect current tenants who’ve already made an agreement with you and can help bolster your reputation within the local pet owners’ community.
Being a property owner who welcomes tenants with pets is a big but positive step. It’s essential that you protect yourself and your property in the process. This is one of those areas where the best property managers in Des Plaines can often pay for themselves. They understand the laws, risks, common problems, loopholes and other issues that can result in costs and other liabilities