How landlords can write an effective pet policy
EDITOR’S NOTE: Today’s column is the second in a four-part weekly series about how landlords and tenants can create a successful rental with pets allowed. The author is the principal administrator of the Summit County Animal Shelter.
Developing an effective pets-welcome policy helps rental managers and landlords do everything in their power for a successful outcome when renting a unit to people with pets.
A list of things that should be included in a pet policy is our focus this week.
n Limit the number of animals per household. Animals enjoy living in pairs so please do not limit to just one animal. Decide on a reasonable number suited for your unit.
n Allow traditional pets such as cats, dogs, fish, small caged birds, mice/rats, ferrets, gerbils, guinea pigs, hamsters and rabbits. As for exotic pets, do a thorough background check from previous landlords/veterinarians.
n Require that resident dogs, cats, rabbits and ferrets be sterilized. These animals can be sterilized by 6 months of age. The benefits of sterilized pets is they are less likely to bite or spray urine, won’t go through noisy heat cycles, reduces pet overpopulation and prevents pets from breeding in your unit. Please take into consideration some pets are too old or sick to be sterilized.
n Require that dogs and cats be up to date on rabies and other vaccinations and, if jurisdiction requires, licensed. Ask to see proof and keep it on file. Require that dogs wear collars with up-to-date identification at all times. If your unit is in unincorporated county, dogs are required to be registered with the shelter; Frisco and Breckenridge tenets need to go to the police department.
n Require that pets be kept under control. All pets in unincorporated county areas are required to be leashed, confined in an enclosure or be under control and within 10 feet of a person competent to control and restrain the dog when off the owner’s property or on public lands.
Municipal areas, some U.S. Forest Service lands and designated areas require dogs to be on leashes at all times.
If your unit has a fenced in yard, require that dogs not be left alone in the yard if the tenet is not home and prohibit chaining or tethering dogs. Cats need to be kept either indoor or on a harness.
n Require a pet deposit. If the current resident does not have a pet or new tenets are planning to get one in the future, require that they inform you when getting a pet.
n Require prospective residents to fill out a pet application form. Meet the prospective pet that will be moving into your unit. It is best not to prejudge breed or size. Judge on temperament. Also, require references from previous landlords and rental managers. When interviewing the potential renter, ask pertinent questions, examples of which can be seen at http://www.rentwithpets.org, “Checklist for Rental Managers.”
n Require that approved pet owners sign a pet addendum to your regular rental agreement. The addendum should state that the resident understands all stated pet-keeping policies. It should also outline the steps that will be taken in the event a pet-related dispute occurs, such as requiring the use of a local mediator.
Go to http://www.rentwithpets.org or come into the shelter to see an actual pet policy or pet addendum.
Next week: How to be a responsible pet owner.
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