More renters have pets than ever before…
So, it’s important to accommodate their furry friends– or accept that it might be harder to fill your vacancies.
In fact, according to the American Pet Products Association’s (APPA) 2022 National Pet Owners Survey, a whopping 70% of U.S. households– 90 million families– own a pet.
More significant is the fact that the number has been steadily increasing for decades, with it being just 56% in 1988 and then 67% recently in 2019.
But that doesn't have to mean that every pet should be allowed in your rental property.
This is why conducting a proper pet screening is becoming increasingly important.
In this guide, we will be going over everything you need to know as a landlord about pet screenings.
To begin, let's go over what a pet screening is and why they are important.
What Is A Pet Screening?
A pet screening is essentially a background check for a prospective tenant's pet. This background check is done before a tenant moves in and is typically part of the tenant screening process.
Some of the things that are checked in a pet screening include:
- The pet's behavior
- The pet's age
- Their medical history
- Breed, gender, age, weight
…and potentially more things.
Depending on the property managers, there can be multiple parts to a pet screening process. Also, the property management may choose to conduct the screening process through a third party service or do it themselves.
Nevertheless, pet screening are a very important part of a landlord's job and helps to make sure the property stays in order. Below, we will be going over some of the other reasons that pet screenings are so important.
Importance Of Pet Screenings
There are various benefits of conducting pet screenings before accepting a pet on your rental property. Below, we have provided some of the most notable benefits of conducting pet screenings for your prospective tenants.
Protection of Property
The first, and possible most important reason for property managers to conduct pet screeings, is to protect their property. Since having cats and dogs inside of a rental property increases the risk of the property being damaged, it's important to make sure that the risk is as low as possible.
This is the main reason that property managers use to not allow pets inside their rental property. Also, since dogs and cats especially shed a lot of hair, the property can become difficult to clean and can inherit a strong smell after some time.
Consideration of Neighbors
Another reason for conducting pet screenings is to make sure that the neighbors, or other residents, will not be disturbed by the presence of the pet. This is incredibly important because every resident, not just the pet owner, is subject to quiet and peaceful living.
If a pet begins to disturb the living condition of one of the other residents, that resident may complain and may even take legal action. So, to mitigate the chances of this happening, property managers conduct pet screenings.
Mitigation of Risk
Finally, conducting pet screenings is useful because it generally reduces the risk of many things happening within the rental property.
For example, there are some animals that people have as pets that are considered illegal in some states. Housing these animals could then lead to legal trouble, which no property manager wants to have to deal with.
So, now that we know the importance of conducting these pet screenings, let's get into the most important part, how to conduct them. In the next section we will be going over some of the most important steps to take when organizing pet screenings.
How To Conduct A Pet Screening
In this section, we will be discussing the steps that property managers will typically take to
Speak To The Tenants About Any Rules
The firs thing that should be done before even beginning the pet screening process is to make sure that the tenant knows about any and all rules and regulations regarding pets in the rental property.
Getting this out of the way early can help save time during the process itself because it gives the tenant a clear picture of what is expected of them as well as things like:
- Pet rent
- Pet deposit
- The pet screening process
This is especially important because every property manager may have their own pet policy that differs from other properties.
Pet Screening Application
After discussing all of the rules and regulations with prospective tenants, it is time to have them fill out a pet screening application.
A pet screening application serves as a great opportunity to ask questions to make sure that the tenant's pet will be a good match for the rental property. Some of the questions that you can ask on a pet screening application include:
- What type of pet it is
- How long have they had the pet
- Does the pet have any behavioral traits that can cause problems?
- How much time does the pet spend alone every day?
- Is your pet housetrained?
- Are you willing to pay the pet security deposit and pet rent?
- Will any pet sitters be staying in the property?
…and anything else that the property manager may find important. Some applications will also require a pet resume, which is essentially just information about the pet.
This application will typically be done online and generate a "pet profile" for the pet, especially if the property manager prefers an online pet screening.
An online pet screening is usually the easiest method as it doesn't require much effort from the property manager and compiles the pet's complicated life into one simple profile.
Conduct a Pet Interview
If the pet screening application had some red flags, it may be appropriate to conduct a pet interview. This in-person interaction is sometimes part of a pet screening service but can be done by the property manager themselves.
During the interview, the first thing that should be done is make sure that the pet matches the information given in the application. This means making sure it matches the photo, the breed, size, etc.
Then, it is important that you begin to address the concerns that you had from the application. You should note any aggressive behavioral traits or excessive barking from the pet. Also, it may be important if the pet can follow basic commands like "sit" and "stay".
Service and Emotional Support Animals
Depending on the specific situation, landlords may be forced to waive their no-pet policy. This is because, under the Fair Housing Act, tenants can request reasonable accommodations, which includes being allowed to house their service animals.
An emotional support animal is a service animal that provides service to the owner in the form of emotional care and companionship. This means that these service animals are not trained in any way to deal with a physical or mental impairment, like a service dog is.
Emotional support animals are only protected by the Fair Housing Act (FHA). Service animals, however, are protected by both the FHA and the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). This is important because it means that the service animals will be subject to fewer restrictions under federal law when compared to emotional support animals.
In conclusion, just like with any other landlord-tenant interaction, it is important for both parties to have patience with each other. This could be a long and complicated process but it requires commitment from both groups of people in order to make it work.
And finally, be respectful to your tenants, as that animal may mean more to them than you may think.