Jennifer Norcliffe | Investment Manager, Harcourts Packham
Why is this decision so hard?
Some of my best tenants have pets, and I too have had the pleasure of mothering my very own doggo while still managing to keep an immaculate home. Chances are you have too or you know someone who has - So do we feel we can’t trust anyone else?
Horror Tenant stories. That's why. We hear of these awful compensation claims… properties with dogs the size of horses trapped indoors gnawing at the frames and faeces smudged in to the carpet. It’s no wonder that Landlords are put off!
The reality is that more than half of the population are pet owners and most of them don't own their own home, so a no pets policy is going to slash a huge line through your potential market.
Now I understand there are some buildings where a pet just wouldn't be suitable. But for your average Australian home, do you really want to eliminate a perfectly fine family because keeping little Rufus means more to them than finding the perfect home?
So what steps should you take when looking to include a pet at your rental property... here’s my advice.
Get the Right Insurance. Landlord insurance has come a long way and pet damage is included in most good policies. While the tenant is just as responsible for the damage caused by their pet as they would be for their own or for any sub-tenant, having a great insurance policy in place is always a good back up plan.
Ask for a Pet Reference. It’s always favourable to have a current Rental Agents reference for Fido, but if that isn’t possible there are ways of finding that peace of mind from photos of their current home, Sales Agent references, friends, family and neighbours.
Obtain a photo of the pet. Make sure you're seeing photos of each intended pet and ensuring they're desexed etc. if a dog has been through puppy or obedience school a copy of the certificate is also a plus.
Ask questions! At the end of the day the pets behaviour is typically a reflection of the owner, so have a good conversation with your potential tenant about their pet and needs. Are they too busy to walk their dog? If so, is the yard big enough for it to run around in or do they have a dog walker? With cats - do they have a run/scratching posts or toys to keep them occupied? A short chat can go a long way in to discovering what sort of tenant and pet owner a person is.
If you're still undecided, leave your advertisement as 'pets negotiable'. You can always change your mind and reject any applications you're not comfortable with. In the meantime you'll have more people show up to open inspections, creating a sense of completion and urgency. Usually resulting in a quicker letting process and sometimes above market offers!