Should I allow my renter to have a dog?

cane-corse-85572_1280-PDShould I allow my renter to have a dog?  In order to reach the greatest possible audience, you need to market correctly, and avoid excluding large pools of renters.  Some pools of renters you do not want, criminals and deadbeats being two of them.  But pets are another issue.  A tenant may “check out great otherwise”, by a landlords definition, but they have a pet.  Should you take the tenants with dogs? I always wonder what “The renter checks out great otherwise” means.  If you have a single family home, a Great Dane is not really that big of a deal.  They are generally not vicious, but they do make a large pile that needs to be picked up.  If you have a small, 1100 square foot apartment with no private outdoor area, it’s different.

What should you look for in a dog?  The dog should be house trained, and not a puppy.  Puppies chew stuff.  The better the renter, the better the dog will behave.  Meet with them and see if the dog will heel, off leash.  Check for the standard obedience commands.  Come, sit, stay, heel, etc.  They are easy commands to teach, but deadbeats don’t teach their dogs anything.  If the dog is not disciplined, skip it. Above all, responsible tenants have responsible pets.  Look to the owner’s background, and you can see the pets background.

If you do take the dog, I would charge a larger deposit.  People with dogs are used to it.  In my units, I charge $25 more per month in pet rent (not a non-refundable pet deposit which by law, must be returned).  Some places I have seen charge both.  Odds are, the dog will cause less damage than a 3 year old boy.

I have had potential tenants that had a 200 lb bull mastiff.  They even had pictures of their 2 year old kid riding on it’s back to prove that it was a gentle dog.  I have no doubt that it was a nice dog, but what will most of my other tenants in the multifamily building think?  Will some be afraid of such a large dog and move out?  Or step in a pile that was not picked up?  Will the large dog bring in muddy feet and ruin the carpets?

All dogs are a problem, but they are generally a manageable problem, especially if you get $25 extra per month.  The larger the dog the more messy they are.  But it could keep your tenant in the rental longer, they are not going to leave their best friend behind.


Check with your insurance agent, “No Akita, Chow, Pit-bull, Rottweiler, or any cross bread with wolf” is common.

What kind of dog do you own? Are you a renter or a homeowner?  If you are a landlord, do you take pets?  What are your pet restrictions?

8 Replies to “Should I allow my renter to have a dog?”

  1. Eric, I just decided to start reading your blog from the beginning. I see you charge $25 pet rent. What about a deposit?

    My last vacancy, I had to accept pets in order to finally get a quality tenant. Lowered the rent first and still didn’t get anything solid. I think Autopilot Mike charges $200 so that’s what I did. But no extra rent. Guess I left some money on the table. I’ll know better next time.

    1. I used to give the option of $300 one time, or a $25 per month extra pet rent. But I went to just an additional $25. If you do not allow dogs, you lose about 50% of renters. You are far betrer aoff allowing dogs, and upgrade your tenants. Responsible tenants have responsible dogs.

      I just Googled Autopilot Mike. Maybe I should write a book too…

      Evaluate your marketing strategies. Often, not getting a great tenant is due to your marketing strategies or expectations. Often, landlords want someone to move in within two weeks. It is often impossible to get a great tenant in less that 6-8 weeks. They need time to give notice and plan, both attributes of great tenants.

      1. “It is often impossible to get a great tenant in less that 6-8 weeks. ”

        Do you begin marketing a property that will be available prior to getting it ready, such as painting or re-carpeting (if necessary)? How do tenants view a property that is not yet ready to rent?

        1. I start marketing as soon as I have notice. With great tenants, you can show, and rent, a property with the existing tenant in place. I generally only need a touch up, and that only takes an hour or so. Carpeting is scheduled ahead of time and done the day of the turn. Most of the time, you do not need carpet.

  2. Eric, when your busy time permits, can you write an article addressing pet-proofing/kid-proofing?
    Thank you for all the free education you provide to us, beginners.

    1. Thank you for reading and the compliments!

      I will see what I can do. For thee most part, child safety is the responsibility of the tenant. I have seen various tenants use different mechanisms to keep kids out of cabinets an rooms.

      If a kid wears shoes, I always recommend tying the shoelaces together. [/sarc]

      1. Eric, thanks for the reply.
        I was more into pet-proofing or kid-proofing, from landlords POV (how to harden your property against possible damages).
        Thank you

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