I once allowed a downstairs tenant to get a small dog because they had a yard. I thought that was a nice thing to do. I thought they would enjoy having a pet. They had an extended family and kids and pets teach great responsibility.
The problem was that they didn’t teach the dog to have responsible behavior. He tore up the entire yard, destroyed the grass, and ruined the living space. I needed to change the rules, and going forward I have been a lot more particular about pets.
With service animal laws we can’t deny a tenant a pet if they are a service animal – require proof – but we can still have strong pet policies in place to prevent any damage.
In general I charge, and recommend to my clients that they should charge, a $500 deposit for pets- this can vary depending on the size/damage potential of the pet. I also charge roughly $50-75 more each month for rent.
You should consult with an attorney about the limits of what you can and cannot do, but adding in clauses about nuisance odors and noises and keeping the inside and outside clean neat and organized just as if they didn’t have a pet, no pet waste standing outside (clean up as you go every day) no toys left all over the yard, etc. can lead to recourse for you to give a 3 day notice to correct the behavior.
A true service animal will be well trained and leave your property in good condition, but other lesser trained “service” animals can be problematic and you don’t want them to cause a vacancy in a neighboring unit.
You can’t deny the service animal, but you can require the owner to take good care of the property and properly train the dog. You might even consider raising the rent by $100/mo to have a dog, but reduce that to $50 after they complete good dog training like Zoom Room. That is a great incentive for the tenant to properly train their dog and you save a lot of time, money and hassle.
So many people have pets these days that if you don’t allow pets you can miss out on some great tenants and have longer vacancies between tenants. Advertising and having a relationship with the pet schools like Zoom Room can even help you find the tenants directly without the cost of advertising.