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Landlords: How Being a Pet-Friendly Landlord Can Dramatically Improve Your Profits!

Landlords: How Being a Pet-Friendly Landlord Can Dramatically Improve Your Profits!

A recent American Pet Products Association study stated that 68% of U.S. households own pets. However, only 55% of landlords allow pets in their rental properties.  From my observations, pet ownership in single-family homes has become even more popular over the last few years and may be above the 68% figure. If you own a single-family home and do not allow pets, you eliminate almost three-quarters of your potential tenants. This means it could take extra weeks, or even months, to rent your property, losing thousands of dollars in profit over that timeframe.

As a landlord, the profitability of considering pets may seem counterintuitive. You might think about puppies chewing on molding, cats scratching everything in sight, and even menacing-looking animals threatening other tenants or neighbors. These are legitimate concerns when renting to tenants with pets, but my experience has shown that the pros outweigh the cons in most cases.

Pets are not a protected class under The Fair Housing Act (FHA), which prevents discrimination against tenants. As a landlord, you are fully within your rights to accept or decline tenants with pets. 

Again, this book is about maximizing profits, and accepting pets is a big opportunity to earn more from your rental properties. But you must consider the advantages and disadvantages to make an informed decision.

Advantages of a Pro Pets Policy

If you choose to accept pets, it must be done correctly and as part of your written lease and application process. You must also define what pets you might be willing to accept, and which pets you want to exclude. With the understanding that you want to maximize profits, let us first discuss the advantages of accepting pets. 

A Larger Population Can Rent Your Property

According to an survey, over 60% of renters who have pets claim to have a hard time finding an apartment that will accept pets. This has become a national issue, and the shortage of apartments that accept pets is getting worse as pets become more popular. As a landlord, you have an opportunity to help this situation and make extra money. 

Increased Renewals

Another reason you should at least consider allowing pets is that pet owners tend to stay longer than other tenants. A study by the Foundation for Interdisciplinary Research and Education Promoting Animal Welfare (FIREPAW) showed that pet owners stayed an average of 23 months versus 15 months for non-pet owners. If you are a pet owner, moving is very hard, so they tend to renew leases and stay longer. Less turnover means no vacancy between tenants, no cleaning or painting between tenants, or repairing any damage between tenants. This is a huge cost saving. 

Pet Owners Tend to Have Higher Incomes

Another advantage is that pet owners tend to have higher incomes. Feeding and caring for a dog or a cat costs a significant amount of money. The average pet owner spends between $100 and $250 monthly on food, toys, health care visits, and other associated costs. Higher-income people tend to make better tenants who can afford setbacks without missing rent payments.

Make More Money

The biggest advantage of allowing pets is more revenue through premium rent. If an apartment is worth $1,500 per month, you might be able to ask $1,600, or even $1,700, because pet-friendly units may be scarce in your area. 

Our standard pet agreements allow you to charge an extra $40 to $60 per month for each pet. Del Val also charges pet security of $300 for each pet. 

A pro-pet policy is one of the easier ways to maximize profits. If you charge an extra $100 per month as premium rent and $50 per month per pet, that is $1,800 more per year in income from just one rental unit. The FIREPAW, Inc. study estimated that a pet generates an extra $2,731 per unit per year on average.

Now, think back to a previous chapter where I talked about how your building’s value equates to approximately 100 times the monthly rent. The increased rent of $150 per month means the value of your property will increase by approximately $15,000 ($150 * 100). What if you own ten buildings? That means an extra $150,000 in property value just from allowing pets.

Disadvantages of a Pro Pets Policy?

It should now be clear that allowing pets is a great way to maximize profits as a landlord. I would be remiss, however, if I did not mention the caveats that come with a pro-pet policy. There are disadvantages you should at least be aware of before deciding whether or not to allow pets in your rental units.

Property Damage

The first thing is the possibility that pets can cause damage to your property. In the FIREPAW, Inc. study, 85% of landlords who accepted pets reported having pet-related damage at some point during their time as a landlord. But in most cases, the cost of the damage was covered by the required pet security deposit, and the landlord did not have any substantial monetary losses.

The FIREPAW, Inc. study also showed that the total difference in property damage between landlords with pets and landlords without pets was under $40, with an average of $323 in damages for tenants without pets and an average of $362 for tenants with pets. This is hardly enough to give up thousands of dollars in extra yearly rent.


Another reason you may choose not to allow pets— in particular, dogs—is the concern that they might injure someone, which might require you to spend a lot of legal money defending yourself in court. This situation, however, is not as likely as it may seem. 

A landlord is rarely found to be liable for injuries inflicted by their tenant's dog. Just the fact that you have rented out your property to a tenant is not enough for a landlord to be found responsible for injuries caused by a dog. 

The general rule is that landlords will only be found guilty if the following are true:

  • The landlord knew the dog was dangerous and could have had the dog removed. 
  • The landlord "harbored" or "kept" the tenant's dog, meaning they cared for it or had some control over the dog.

As long as you are not directly involved in the care of a dog, or if you become aware the dog may be dangerous and do not notify the tenant of the dog’s danger, you should be fine. 

In the rare event a landlord is found responsible for a dog’s harm, a landlord’s owner's liability insurance may cover the loss.

Noise and Multi-Unit Buildings

Accepting pets in multi-unit buildings can be tricky. As a general rule, we do not permit pets in multi-unit buildings. The reason is noise and tenant complaints. For example, the sound of a neighbor's door opening when they come home from work late at night is often enough to trigger a dog in a nearby apartment to start barking. This creates a disturbance for all the tenants. 

One solution is to make the entire building pet and dog-friendly and make it clear to all applicants that there will be dogs in the building. The other option would be to accept all pets except dogs. 

An Important Note about Service and Emotional Support Animals

Keep in mind that Service Dogs (“SD”) and Emotional Support Animals (“ESA”) are not considered pets, and pet rules and restrictions do not apply. ESAs help people with emotional disabilities such as anxiety or depression by providing comfort and support.

Any animal can be an ESA. Federal law does not require these animals to have any specific training, and the owner of an ESA does not have to be physically disabled. Whereas SDs do require special training.

In most cases, your tenant(s) should provide a letter from their doctor stating that they have a disability that benefits from an SD or ESA. Tenants requesting accommodations for their ESA can be asked to provide a letter from their therapist or mental health care provider.

Landlords must also understand the difference between service animals, therapy animals, and emotional support animals. The below chart will help with the features and permissions for each type of animal. 

Precautions to Take When Allowing Pets

If you weigh the advantages and disadvantages of allowing pets and conclude that being pet-friendly in your rental unit is worth the risk, there are some precautions that you should be aware of. 

Pet Applications

As we discussed, accepting pets can be very profitable, but you must take certain precautions. The first precaution is to require a pet application. We use a service called 

Our applicants go to this website and fill in all the information regarding the dog, cat, or other animals they want in their rental unit. The site will ask them what type of animal it is, the breed, the size and weight, the shots they have had, and some other details. 

When the prospective tenant is done filling out the screening request, the website rates the pet’s viability as an acceptable risk on a scale from one to five “Paws." A rating of one Paw means the pet would bring a high (potentially unacceptable) risk to your property. A rating of five Paws means the pet adds little risk to the property owner. We also charge a higher rent for Paws scores of one or two and less pet rent if they have pet scores of four or five Paws. offers additional resources that may help you as a landlord as well. For instance, they can verify assistance animals per HUD and FHA guidelines. They also have some great documentation and FAQs that you may find helpful.

Dog Breeds (And More) to Avoid

Certain dog breeds have a history of being more problematic than others, especially when it comes to human safety and legal issues. Property insurance providers label some dogs as aggressive and should not be permitted on your property regardless of your pet policy. Here is a list of breeds you may want to exclude from your rental units. 

  • Akita
  • Malamute
  • American Bull Terrier/American Bulldog
  • American Staffordshire Terrier
  • Chow Chow
  • Coyotes/Wild dogs
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • German Shepherd
  • Hybrid and Purebred wolves
  • Korean Jindu
  • Pit Bull
  • Presa Canario
  • Rottweiler
  • Husky
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • No reptiles, snakes, or exotic animals of any sort.

Most property insurance providers may void any policy of a landlord who rents to someone with one of the above breeds. So, I recommend adhering to this list and consulting your insurance advisor on breeds that may not be permitted.

Number of Pets

While most tenants do not have more than one or two pets, we recommend establishing a limit that makes sense for the size of your property. If somebody wants to rent your picturesque single-family ranch home and they tell you that they have six or eight cats, you probably want to rule that person out. Similarly, if they want to rent your 500-square-foot apartment and have two ninety-pound rottweilers, they might not be the best fit for that particular unit. You must also ensure you follow city laws regarding how many animals you are allowed to have in a residential property or apartment.

Weight of Dogs 

I recommend putting a weight limit on pets of around forty to fifty pounds. Any dog bigger than that can cause significant damage and scare off a lot of other quality tenants. 

Condo or Homeowners Associations

If your property is inside a condo or homeowners association, they may have their own pet rules, typically dealing with permitted breeds and weight limits. I recommend calling your condo or HOA manager and getting a copy of the pet rules so you can stay compliant.