Chicago Property Management Blog

Establishing a Pet-Policy for Your Rental Property

Establishing a Pet-Policy for Your Rental Property

Many landlords recognize the benefit to allowing renters to have pets in their Chicago investment properties. These property owners aim to reduce tenant turnover, increase the size of the pool of prospective renters, or they may simply appreciate the value that pets can bring to their owners’ lives. 

Regardless of the reason, it is imperative to have a thorough and sensible pet-policy in place for your investment property. Establishing a sound pet-policy will protect your investment and guard against unforeseen costs and negative outcomes from the presence of animals. 

It is important to develop a list of specific conditions under which tenants are allowed to have pets in the house or apartment. Detail these specifications in a “pet agreement” and include that agreement as an addendum to the standard rental lease. 

A comprehensive pet agreement should include the following specifications:

1. Types and Numbers of Animals

The pet agreement included in the rental lease should clearly specify the types of animals that are permitted in the property. The more specific, the better. Typical these agreements will allow for common domestic pets like dogs, cats, hamsters, and fish. 

Some landlords include prohibitions on certain pets that tend to be messier, more high maintenance, or more likely to cause damage to the interior of the unit. Another reasonable option is to include a weight limit in the agreement for each pet. A weight limit will prohibit very large animals that would be more likely to result in future costs for you.

Also, the pet agreement section of the lease should clearly specify the maximum number of animals that are allowed at any one time. Including a clear limit will keep pet-loving occupants from acquiring more pets than the property can reasonably accommodate. 

2. Pet Screening and Approval

The pet agreement should make it clear that the property owner / property management company must approve each pet before it begins living in the unit. Each animal is unique, regardless of the species, breed, or size. Therefore, it is important to assess each pet before agreeing to allow them to live in the rental space. 

You should also ask the owner a series of questions to help you judge whether or not you are comfortable with that particular animal staying in your property. Consider asking the following questions:

  • How long has the renter owned the pet?

  • How old is the animal?

  • Is the pet house trained?

  • Where did the renter get the animal?

  • Who is the primary caretaker for the pet?

  • Who will watch the animal when the primary caretaker is away?

While it is impossible to allow pets without any risk, finding out as much information as you can allows you to make the best possible judgment in each specific case.

3. Pet Deposits and Rent

Another common factor in pet agreements is some additional charge to the occupant. Typically, these charges take the form of either pet deposits or pet rent. While state laws and regulations vary, Illinois does not have a limit on the amounts or kinds of pet fees that landlords are permitted to charge. 

Because the presence of animals often entails additional wear and tear to a rental property, owners may choose to protect against damage and losses by charging tenants for the option of keeping pets.

Pet Deposits – One method for guarding against losses from pets is to charge an additional deposit when renters begin their lease with a pet or gain a pet during the course of their lease. Deposits are usually refundable if the pet does not cause damage over the course of the lease.

If there is noticeable damage when the tenant’s lease has come to an end, document all of the damage and deduct the estimate for repairs from the initial pet deposit. Pet deposits usually average between $250 and $500 but can vary depending the property and the pet itself.

Pet Rent – Another option that many landlords implement is pet rent. This is usually a non-refundable monthly fee in addition to the standard rental rate. Pet rent usually averages from $15 to $50 a month and is intended to offset the additional wear and tear from the presence of the pet. 

Be sure to choose a reasonable amount for either of these options. While most prospective renters will understand the need for you to offset the additional risks of your property, excessively high pet rent or fees will deter high-quality applicants.

Landmark Property Management in Chicago offers superior property management services. Contact us online or call 312-313-8553 today.