As a San Francisco rental property owner, you must set clear expectations with your renters from your first interaction. One of the first things you should address is your pet policy. The decision to allow pets in your rental home is one that only you can make. Both options have pros and cons, which can periodically make it more challenging to make a hard-and-fast decision. If you do decide to allow pets, you need to have your pet policy clearly outlined and ready to go over with your renter when they sign the lease. You should also set clear expectations with your renter pet owners, including what type and how many pets are allowed, pet deposits and fees, monthly charges, vaccination and behavior requirements, how you’ll handle complaints, and the consequences for violating your pet policy. We’ll talk more about each of these points below.
Type and Number of Pets
By far, the most common pets that Americans have at home are dogs and cats. Your pet policy should contain components about any breed or size restrictions and how many pets are allowed. Be sure to check local regulations and follow any rules you find there. Smaller pets, like birds, fish, and hamsters, are also popular, so be sure to manage these types of pets in your lease documents.
Pet Deposit/Fee and Monthly Rent
It’s one of the drawbacks of allowing pets on the property: pets usually cause damage that may go past normal wear and tear. For this reason, most rental property owners will charge a pet deposit or fee in addition to the standard security deposit. Many also charge additional pet rent monthly to help cover the additional property maintenance and repair costs. While the amount you charge is up to you, it’s a good idea to do some research and see what other San Francisco property managers charge for pets and take after them.
Vaccination and Behavior Requirements
In addition to the financial responsibilities of rental pet owners, be sure to include any other requirements related to keeping pets in your lease. For example, many cities and counties have vaccination and licensing regulations, especially for dogs. By including your local regulations in your lease and requiring your renter to follow them, you can better protect yourself and your property from potential legal issues. The same thing is true for pet behavior. In your lease, be sure to specify any restrictions on the behaviors of pets, such as excessive barking, allowing pets outside or off leash, or other potentially tricky behaviors. Outline clear consequences for violations of these and all requirements to help enforce your lease more easily.
Even though your renter may love their pets, the neighbors might be less pleased to have them there. Pet complaints can be difficult to handle because common complaints, such as excessive barking or pets roaming unleashed, are not things that the rental property owner has direct control over. You can set clear expectations with your renter about properly securing and leashing their pet and taking steps to keep their pet from making too much noise. Then, make a plan to handle repeated complaints, such as a system to issue warnings before going straight to breach of contract. This tactic may motivate your renter to be a more responsible pet owner.
Consequences for Violations
Although setting clear expectations can help reduce the potential for renters to abuse your pet policy, they may still violate it anyway. One of the more typical things renters will try is to sneak additional 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. Suppose your renter has too many pets, has an unauthorized species or breed, or otherwise violated your pet policy. In that case, you should document the situation carefully and notify the renter 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 renter 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 useful 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 start. If you want expert guidance and advice on the issue of allowing pets, why not give Real Property Management San Francisco a call? We can help you establish 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 415-989-2000.
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