Is being anti-pet costing you money?

Wednesday, 2nd Oct 2013


The decision of whether or not to allow your tenants to keep pets in your property is a personal one.  For most landlords, the decision is ‘no’. Surveys have shown that only 1 in 4 landlords allow pets, and WA landlords are among the least pet-friendly in the country.

So why are so many landlords anti-pet and could they be putting themselves at a financial disadvantage?

The general concern for anti-pet landlords is about the potential property damage that a pet can cause. Animals, particularly those of the four-legged variety, can certainly cause damage to carpets, floor boards, paint work, and not to mention the garden.

Animals can also affect the ‘aroma’ of a property. How many times have you walked into a home and knew instantly that a dog lived there. And there are noise issues as well. Barking dogs and fighting cats can often create issues between neighbours and put a landlord in a difficult position.

There are, however, plenty of positives to allowing pets in your investment property. For those landlords concerned about vacancies (and who isn’t?), being open to pets can dramatically increase your pool of potential tenants. This can mean shorter vacancies and better quality tenants. Around 60 percent of Australian households have pets and with so few pet-friendly rental properties, it’s easy to see why allowing pets could put you at a competitive advantage.

Some people argue that tenants who own pets are more likely to stay in a property for longer than those without pets. The reason is two-fold. Firstly, pets help tenants feel more ‘at home’ in a property. And secondly, tenants with pets are less likely to want to move for fear of disrupting the pet/family-member..

Clearly, some properties are just not suitable for pets including some strata properties or those with no suitable outdoor areas. But in many cases, it is simply the preference of the landlord not to allow pets. Landlords who are themselves pet owners seem to better understand the relationship people have with their pets and are more open to the issue.

Being too quick to close the door on pets could mean longer vacancies and missing out on quality long-term tenants. This is especially true for owners of property in pet friendly areas such as near dog beaches and parks. And it’s not just families who own pets but also many couples and singles, a growing segment in society.

When making the pet/no-pet decision, it’s perhaps human nature to think of the worst case scenario. There are ways to minimising the risks associated with pets by requiring a pet bond (this only covers fumigation costs), putting restrictions on the number or size of animals and by asking for ‘pet references’ that demonstrates previous good pet behaviour.