Pets restrict renter’s options
Rose and Brian opted for not having children and have instead satisfied their need for family by adopting much-loved animals.
Their eldest is called Bruce. He’s a large Newfoundland dog weighing around 50 kilograms. Bruce has a feline sister called Greta who likes to sleep with him and suckle his belly fur.
Recently Rose and Brian moved to Palmerston North from Auckland and had to go through the daunting task of finding a rental property that would accept their four-legged family members.
‘‘On every advertisement it said no pets,’’ says Rose. ‘‘They haven’t even met Bruce and Greta so how can they judge what kind of tenants they will be?’’
Looking through the classifieds online, so many rental properties say no pets yet around 43 per cent of people have pets of some kind. It’s a conundrum but there can be a positive outcome for both would-be renter and cautious property owner.
Renters with companion animals will often pay extra, stay longer and maintain a property well, including extensive post-occupancy cleaning and reparation. They want a good reference for future landlords.
From a property management point of view, tenants with companion animals become a liability. As a professional letting agency, looking after your client’s property comes first.
‘‘It’s all about trying to eliminate risk,’’ says Jeff Raggett, manager at Professionals Property Management and Rental.
‘‘Adding a pet increases the level of risk to the property owner.’’
Of the rental properties available at Professionals, only 5 per cent of owners said they would consider taking on a dog and less than 10 per cent said they would consider allowing a cat.
‘‘If you’ve got a dog or cat it severely restricts your choice in rental properties,’’ Jeff suggests, ‘‘and we have to add several clauses to the tenancy agreement to cover the risk of having pets on the property.’’
Opening your property up to tenants with companion animals may add another level of risk, but it can also maximise its rental potential. It creates an increased demand for your property. Petfriendly properties are much sought after and won’t be vacant for long.
Such a shortage in pet-friendly rentals encourages tenants with animals to stay longer. And as Jeff explains, there are clauses in the rental agreement to make sure the property is well protected against damage. ‘‘We’re only legally allowed to charge four weeks bond on a property and this may not cover any repairs from family pets. Cats, mice and rats for example can create bad lingering odours that stay in the carpets and floorboards. Dogs can foul the yard and leave scratch marks on doors and walls. You need extra cover against this sort of damage for a rental property.’’
Charging extra rent for pets is acceptable if the cost remains within a reasonable free market range. Special clauses on the rental contract for a dog could include: cleaning up dog fouling frequently, restraining the animal when a property inspection is planned, not allowing the dog to roam or become a nuisance to neighbours and agreeing to remedy any damage to house and grounds at the end of the tenancy.
Additional clauses include paying for a full professional flea treatment and having the carpets cleaned at departure.
For the pet owner, preparing a reference for family pets is recommended. The pet CV should describe the animal and its behaviour and include a photo. It can record inoculations, any recent veterinary treatments and if the animal is micro-chipped. The vet may also agree to comment on the animal’s temperament and how they perceive the animal’s relationship with its owner. Past landlords can provide a written or verbal reference for animals.
‘‘Often the property owner has pets of their own so it’s just a matter of convincing them of the minimal risk your pet involves. Providing an additional reference for your companion animals makes good sense,’’ Jeff concludes.