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Setting Expectations with Pet Owners

Milford Tenant Holding Her CatAs a Milford rental property owner, you need to set clear expectations with your tenants from your very first interaction. One of the more important things you should address is your pet policy. The decision to allow pets in your rental home or not is one that only you can make. There are both advantages and disadvantages to either choice, which can sometimes make it a bit more difficult to make a hard-and-fast decision. If you do decide to allow pets, you’ll need to have your pet policy clearly outlined and ready to go over with your tenant when they sign the lease. You should also set clear expectations with your tenant pet owners that include what type and how many pets are allowed, pet deposits and monthly charges, how you’ll handle complaints, and the consequences for violating your pet policy. We’ll talk about each one of these in more detail below.

Type and Number of Pets

By far, the most widespread pets that Americans have at home are dogs and cats. Your pet policy should include specifics about any breed or size restrictions and how many pets are permitted. Be sure to check local regulations and follow any rules you find there, as well. Smaller pets, like birds, fish, and hamsters, are also popular, so be sure to address these types of pets in your lease documents.

Pet Deposit and Monthly Rent

It’s one of the drawbacks of allowing pets on the property: pets often cause damage that may go beyond regular wear and tear. Therefore, most rental property owners will charge a pet deposit in addition to the standard security deposit. Many may also increase the rent every month to help cover the additional property maintenance and repair costs. While the amount you charge is up to you, it’s a great idea to do some research and see what other landlords in your area charge for pets and follow suit.

Handling Complaints

Whilst your tenant may love their pets, the neighbors might not be as thrilled to have them there. Pet complaints can be tricky to handle because the common complaints, such as excessive barking or pets roaming unleashed, are not issues that the rental property owner has direct control over. You can set clear expectations with your tenant about properly securing and leashing their pet and taking steps to keep their pet from making too much noise. Then, make a plan to cope with repeated complaints, such as a system to issue warnings before going straight to breach of contract. This ploy may better persuade your tenant to be a more responsible pet owner.

Consequences for Violations

While setting clear expectations can help lessen the potential for tenants to abuse your pet policy, they may still wind up violating it anyway. One of the more common things tenants will try is to sneak extra pets onto the property, so they don’t have to pay the additional fees. Unauthorized pets are always a concern for landlords, whether you allow pets or not. If you find that your tenant has too many pets, unauthorized species, or otherwise violated your pet policy, you should document the situation carefully and notify the tenant of the violation. If your state laws allow it, you could even include a fine for pet policy violations in your lease, which may offer an even stronger incentive for your tenant to abide by the terms of their lease. Depending on the number and severity of the violation, you should then take the appropriate action.


Allowing pets in your rental property can be good for your profits and tenant relations. But you need to have a clear and detailed pet policy that will help you establish and manage your tenant’s expectations right from the very beginning. If you would like some expert guidance and advice on the issue of allowing pets, why not give Real Property Management MetroWest-Worcester a call? We can help you outline your rental policies in high-quality rental documents,  check your property regularly for hidden pets or other lease violations, and more! Contact us online or reach us at 508-329-6000.

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