Pets re­strict renter’s op­tions

Manawatu Standard - Property Weekly - - Front Page - Helen Mays

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.

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