Pets are treasured members of thousands of Australian families but for many landlords they can be unwelcome guests.
Pet-proofing your rental property can have many benefits, including opening your property to a much broader scope of prospective tenants and reducing the number of pets in shelters.
About 25% of animals surrendered to the Animal Welfare League in Queensland in 2017 resulted from the inability of their owners to find pet-friendly homes. The RSPCA reports the same issue: 15%-30% of the nearly 100,000 pets surrendered in 2017 belonged to people who couldn’t take them to a new rental property.
Allowing pets may also help to improve the property’s profitability, as a pet-owning renter who finds a suitable home is likely to live there longer and reduce the time in which the property is vacant.
For many landlords, pet-proofing their investment property is more important than ever.
The 2017 rental reforms by the Victorian government introduced changes to the state’s tenancy rules which, in some cases, gave tenants the right to have a pet in their rental property. There is support for this initiative to be adopted in other states and territories too.
Allowing pets to be housed in your investment property is a major decision. However, we encourage landlords to pet-proof their rental and be open to having furry or feathered tenants.
Here’s how to pet-proof your rental property:
Enforce a pet policy
Before allowing pets at the property, it’s a good idea to establish a pet clause in your tenant’s rental agreement.
This is a good risk management strategy where you can outline specific guidelines you would like the tenant to follow. It’s important that all guidelines are fair and just.
For example, you may request that the pet is housed outside and sleeps in a cordoned off area at night, such as the laundry. You may request the tenant keeps the property free from animal odours and fur and regularly removes pet waste.
Regular property inspections
By conducting regular property inspections, landlords or property managers can monitor for any pet damage. This may include soiled carpet, claw marks on walls and damage to exterior fences.
Fur on furniture and bedding, water bowls, urine stains on the carpet or evident animal odours in and around the home may suggest the tenant is housing a pet at the property.
Changes to Terri Scheer’s landlord insurance policy means a pet is no longer required to be named on the lease for the landlord or property manager to make a claim for pet damage. We believe we are the only insurer to incorporate this initiative into its policies.
Modify the property
Making slight modifications to the property can help to lower maintenance for tenants and reduce the risk of pet damage.
Fencing should be a priority for outdoor pets. A large, enclosed backyard gives dogs space to run around and expend their energy.
Replacing carpet with tiles or floorboards also makes a property more suitable for pets, as these materials are easier to clean and more stain resistant. Adding a doggy door may also reduce the likelihood of a pet damaging the home from boredom when the tenant’s not there.
Maintain a good relationship with the tenant
Having a good relationship with your tenant is a must. If a tenant wants to get a pet and is upfront and honest with the landlord, they’re more likely to be understanding and make the property pet-friendly.
Open and transparent communication may also encourage tenants to uphold their rental and pet agreement. A tenant with a good relationship with their landlord or property manager will be more comfortable raising any pet-related issues, allowing them to be addressed sooner rather than later.
Obtain landlord insurance
Damage to a rental property caused by a domestic pet is not always covered under landlord insurance policies. Landlord and property managers should check with their insurer to see if they’re covered before allowing pets at their property.