The Perils of Pets and Property Management

“Do you allow pets?” As a property manager, this very question can evoke fear, dread, or indifference in your mind. You may recall unpleasant experiences with previous tenants and their pets, or your mind might jump to worst-case scenarios.

Rental property pet regulations are some of the greatest challenges, and perhaps the most challenging obstacles you face in your line of work. Considering many people own pets and the growing challenge of filling properties with responsible tenants that pay on time, allowing pets in rental property are becoming more common – but the challenges are sure to ensue.

Because your client allows small pets, you answer the question the best you can, “yes, but only ones who behave, are small in size, and don’t disturb the other tenants.” The potential leaseholder goes on to reassure you, “oh no, not my Pootsy! She is just a small dog and won’t bother a thing!”

Reluctantly, you approve. The issue at hand is not whether you like pets or not. In fact, you may even own a couple yourself. Rather the issue is that bringing a pet into a rental property always involves a certain amount of risk, no matter how much reassurance is offered by the new leaseholder.

Inspecting the Property Prior to Occupation

Prior to the new tenant moving in, it’s important to protect yourself by conducting a thorough property inspection. By using SnapInspect property inspection software, you can make annotations within the app to describe in detail the condition of the property.

When a pet owner is moving in, it’s important to conduct a thorough assessment of the property and pay special attention to areas such as the flooring and doors/frames – especially those sections low to the ground. Adding solid proof to your findings, SnapInspect offers video inspection capabilities that allow you to film the property in detail and attach the video to your report.

The next thing you know, the new tenant is moving in with their dear little “Pootsy” – a decent-sized dog that looks to be a mix of pit bull, terrier, and who knows what else. Because you have already given the approval, and the dog is not too large, you ignore the fact that the tenant was misleading about the size of the dog. Besides, the leaseholder surely read the contract and paid special attention to the section of rules in regards to pets and noise level and where they use the bathroom, right?

Dealing with Pet Issues

About a week after the new leaseholder has moved in, you get a call from a neighboring tenant. Turns out Pootsy has spent a lot of time alone, locked in a crate while the tenant is at work. Not enjoying the solitude, the dog reportedly barks, howls, and cries the entire time the tenant is away. Once the tenant returns, there is no problem, and the dog is again quiet. You assure the tenant that placed the complaint that you will talk to the new leaseholder about the noise level and find a solution.

So you talk to the new tenant. Their response? “Not my Pootsy, she is just as quiet and sweet as can be, I have never heard her bark, but I will do my best to ensure this never happens.”

You find yourself stuck in the middle. You spend some time on site and hear the barking and howling for yourself. How do you convince the new tenant that the noise is persisting whenever the dog is left alone? One thing you can do is to use your home inspection app to record the noise level from outside of the apartment when the tenant is gone in order to bring the issue to the tenant’s attention and protect yourself.

As if the noise wasn’t enough, a few weeks after the new leaseholder has moved in, “presents” are being discovered throughout the property lawn. The messes left behind by a dog are right in a grassy area where children from the apartments play. Although you did not witness the events, you can only assume Pootsy is responsible for the problem only as it commenced since the new leaseholder moved in.

You speak with the leaseholder again, this time about the messes being carelessly left behind in the yard and follow up with a reminder about the noise level. The tenant becomes a bit defensive and denies that her little Pootsy left those messes and insisted it must be a neighbor’s dog or even a nearby stray.

What do you do? The leaseholder has now been there for two months and regularly pays thus far, but the barking is causing neighbors distress and the doggie piles in the yard is a bit too much for maintenance to deal with.

Dealing With It

Eventually, you have to evict the tenant because of the noise level caused by the pet. It doesn’t go over well, and it takes over a month before the tenant finally vacates the property.

Once they have left, it’s time to conduct a follow-up inspection on the condition of the property after the tenant left. Upon entering the apartment, you are met with a distinctly foul animal smell. You investigate further and finds spots and stains on the carpet that must be responsible for the odor.  

Luckily, you used SnapInspect to complete an inspection before the tenant moved in. Now, it’s easy to compare the inspections and come up with an estimate of what the tenant is responsible for.

As the property manager, the whole situation leaves you, a bit upset to say the least, and turned off about the whole idea of allowing pets in the building ever again!

So the next time someone asks you, “Are pets allowed,” most likely this bad experience will replay in your mind and make you more apprehensive.

We cannot stress enough the importance of conducting accurate property inspections before the tenant moves in and immediately when they move out. Think of SnapInspect as your own personal insurance policy, protecting you in the event of property damage caused by pets.

Sign up for the free two-week trial today, and start keeping a more accurate log of the real estate you manage.

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