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Should Landlords Allow Pets in DC Rowhomes for Rent?

EJF Real Estate Services - Thursday, April 15, 2021

One of the most common questions rental property owners face is the decision to allow pets in their homes—or not. When 85 million (or 67%) of American homes include a pet, it's an excellent thing to consider when developing the criteria for renters.

Allowing pets in your DC rowhomes for rent has plenty of benefits, but investors need to approach this option with the right strategy. Much like the rules governing how you can legally select renters, animals in rental properties have best practices (and some applicable laws).

What do real estate investors need to know when deciding to allow pets in their DC properties? EJF Real Estate has put together a few tips to help you figure out what's best for you and your investments.

Woman with dog(Most) Pets Come With Excellent Renters

There's always an exception to the rule. However, in general, pet owners make excellent renters. When allowing pets in your properties, most investors find that good pets and good pet owners go hand in hand. 

When excluding pets, investors can miss out on excellent residents. Pet owners:

  • Know that it's critical to have a well-behaved pet to remain in your rental
  • Take good care of your property
  • Pick up after their pets and follow the rules in the lease
  • Often renew their lease

It can be challenging for people with pets to find rental homes that allow them to bring their beloved animals, too. When they find quality, pet-friendly DC rowhomes for rent, they work hard to be excellent residents. They're also more likely to stay for another lease term rather than try to find another home that allows pets. 

Excellent renters (and wonderful pets) that renew a lease help real estate investors make more money.

Put Rules In Place

Allowing pets in your rentals doesn't mean you have to accept all pets of any kind. Investors also don't have to say "yes" to pets, then simply hope they aren't dangerous and that nothing goes wrong.

With pet-friendly properties, it's critical to put additional rules in place that apply directly to pet-owning renters. A DC property manager can help you set up legal criteria for pets and put a pet addendum in place to outline the rules for renters with pets.

A pet addendum should include:

  • Pet-related fees (in addition to the standard security deposit)
  • Rules for picking up after pets 
  • Details about fines and consequences for property damage caused by pets or other rule violations
  • The pet's name, description, breed, etc.
  • Pet owner's name
  • The "move-in" date for the pet (especially if a renter gets a pet mid-lease)
  • Location (rental property address)

Be sure the addendum ties back to the renter's lease and file these documents together. The pet addendum protects your property from bad pet owners and provides recourse for you if a pet causes damage, or the renter doesn't follow the rules. 

AnimalsAssistance Animals Are An Exception to "Pet" Rules

What happens when you don't allow pets in your DC rowhomes for rent, but a renter requests accommodation for an assistance animal? The pet-friendly property rules don't apply. 

Real estate investors must allow renters to have an assistance animal in their rental properties. This includes service animals trained to help renters function throughout the day and emotional support animals (with no specific task-oriented training). 

With service animals, rental property owners:

  • Cannot charge any pet fees
  • Should not apply a pet addendum
  • Must be careful when asking questions about a renter's disability or need for a service animal

However, if a service or emotional support animal causes property damage or becomes disruptive, property owners can restrict the animal's access to common areas and pass repair costs along to the animal's owner. 

Navigating accommodation for service animals and following ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) guidelines can be challenging. To operate your properties legally, work with a property manager who understands the laws and can help you avoid violations. 

Hire a Property Manager When Allowing Pets

Offering pet-friendly DC rowhomes for rent is a smart way to expand your pool of available renters and find more excellent, long-term renters. However, it's not without challenges that can be frustrating to handle on your own. 

The right property manager in DC helps investors set up pet-friendly properties for success. EJF Real Estate Services has extensive experience helping real estate investors offer the best rental homes to pet owners while protecting their investments. We apply thorough screening practices to potential renters (and their pets). Our experts also use a thorough pet addendum to clearly define rules, penalties, and fees that hold pet owners accountable for monitoring pet behavior and taking care of your rentals.

Most real estate investors find that pet-friendly properties are worth the effort and boost to their bottom line. If you're thinking about allowing pets in your rentals, contact us to learn more about how we can help. 

Download our free Tenant Screening Checklist when it's time to find your next renters!