With millennials and Generation Z making up almost half of the population of the United States, savvy landlords should consider amenities that appeal to these populations. Increasingly, young people are marrying later and spending more time learning who they are and what they want out of life. While delaying marriage and family building, pets are the next most logical step, providing the companionship and comfort that would otherwise be missing.
With the important role pets play in the lives of your potential renters, opting to allow pets is usually a smart decision, though landlords can naturally be hesitant. The potential damage that pets can cause it enough to persuade some landlords to avoid renting to this significant population.
Here at RentSimple, we encourage landlords to allow pets in their rental properties, as the benefits generally outweigh the risks. Pet owners are usually empathetic and responsible people who take good care of their pet and their home. There are also ways to reduce the risk associated with allowing pets while still keeping your door open to your tenant's furry friends.
The Value of Pet Screening
Property management companies have seen a lot of tenants—and a lot of tenants with pets. They know to keep an eye out for red flags that spell danger. Just as you screen tenants to ensure they will pay their rent on time and take good care of your property, pets should also go through a similar screening process.
A good property manager will, at a minimum, ask questions that identify whether a pet owner is a responsible one. One of the ways in which they do this is by adding a pet questionnaire to the application process. An Ashburn property manager might ask questions like:
- What was the date of your last vet visit?
- Are all your pets shots up to date?
- When was the most recent rabies shot?
- Is your pet spayed/neutered?
- Is your pet housebroken/litterbox trained?
- How old is your pet?
- What is the breed?
- What is your veterinarian's contact information?
By asking for the contact information of the vet, you can ensure that the rest of the information on the application is truthful. A pet owner that is responsible enough to get their pet spayed or neutered and keeps their pet up-to-date on their shots will also be responsible enough to ensure the pet does not cause damage. Still, sometimes things happen, and a pet does cause damage to your Ashburn rental home. These same responsible pet owners can be trusted to make it right.
A new trend that is becoming popular among property managers is third-party pet screening. Third-party pet screening providers use data to determine pet risk, similar to how an insurance provider uses data to assess risk and rates. When a property management company uses these services, the pet owner submits an online application for their pet as well as themselves. They answer questions similar to those listed above with added information such as:
Using the aggregate data, the pet screening company can assign a general risk level and then base a suggested pet deposit on that risk level.
Another great reason to use pet screening is to verify that service animals are indeed service animals. There are multiple websites available that allow people to pay a fee in exchange for fake service animal documentation, a fee that is usually less than a pet deposit would be.
These services hurt landlords. Service animals are exempt from no-pet rules as well as deposits, making the purchasing of a service animal certificate even more appealing to the less than honest tenant. Of course, service animals should always be allowed—to do anything otherwise would be discrimination. However, falsifying service animal documentation makes it harder on our neighbors who do need them—which is why using services to weed them out is so important.
While the HUD is taking steps to try to stop the use of the fraudulent websites selling service animal documentation, landlords should remain vigilant.
How Do I Implement a Pet-Screening Policy?
Your property management company knows how to implement the right pet-screening procedure for your Ashburn rental property, and probably has a policy in place that they suggest for all of their clients. If your property management company does not have a pet policy in place, you might want to shop around for a property management company in Ashburn that takes the extra steps needed to protect you—and your investment. Implementing the wrong practices could result in claims of discrimination—or worse!
Enter RentSimple property management. We believe in using technology to make the lives of our clients and tenants better. Using innovations such as pet screening is just one of the ways we create solutions that work. Our goal as a local property management company is to change that—and make your experience as a landlord rewarding and worry-free. We know that when our landlord partners succeed in growing their long-term wealth, we do too. If the idea of truly passive income sounds good to you, contact us! We would be happy to show you how we're improving property management in Ashburn for landlords like you.