The Benefits of Being Pet-Friendly for Jacksonville Rental Property Owners

The Benefits of Being Pet-Friendly for Jacksonville Rental Property Owners - Article Banner

People can get pretty emotional about pets. They’re family members. They’re best friends. They’re dogs and cats, usually, but sometimes they’re birds and reptiles. 

Maybe you own pets yourself and understand this connection. Maybe you don’t have any pets of your own but you know that a lot of tenants in Jacksonville are looking for a rental property that allows pets. 

Or, perhaps you aren’t willing to take on the risk of having animals in your property. What might they do to your new hardwood floors or you’re expensive landscaping?

We recommend allowing pets into your Jacksonville rental property. Pet owners invest a lot of time, love, and money into the care of their animals, and when it’s time to look for a new rental home, they won’t consider any properties that don’t allow pets. 

As a property owner, you’ll have to decide if you’re going to be a pet-friendly property.  

With a strong pet policy and some proactive pet screening, you can welcome pets into your property without a lot of risk. In our experience as Jacksonville property managers, we’ve found that the benefits of renting out a pet-friendly property almost always outweigh the risks. 

Here are the main benefits of being a pet-friendly property owner.

Less Vacancy and Less Turnover for Pet-Friendly Properties

The statistics are pretty clear about Jacksonville tenants and pet ownership. Across the entire county, a majority of renters have at least one pet. Allowing pets will result in a faster rental process. Not allowing pets in your rental property will lead to longer vacancies. It may take you extra time to find a tenant who isn’t moving in with a pet. 

Why limit your tenant pool? Let your marketing reflect that you’re willing to consider pets. Then, you’ll have everyone looking at your listing and scheduling showings. You’ll have the opportunity to talk with prospective tenants about their pets and decide if they are a risk you can manage. 

Not allowing pets will mean fewer tenants are interested in your rental home. 

Think about what vacancy costs you. Not only are you without income for those weeks or months, you’re also paying out of pocket for utilities. You’ve got to worry about unreported maintenance and safety issues. What if someone breaks in while the property is vacant? 

Pets invite shorter vacancy periods. You’ll find a tenant faster. 

There’s also the matter of better retention. 

Pet owners don’t move quite as frequently as tenants who don’t have pets. That’s because they know there’s going to be another pet fee or pet deposit in the new place. They don’t want to pay that again. When your tenants are pet owners and they’re having a good rental experience, those residents are likely to stay in place. This reduces your vacancy and turnover costs. It eliminates the stress of having to find a new tenant. 

Jacksonville Rental Property Owners Earn More Income with Pets

Your property has a higher rental value when your tenant has a pet. In fact, if you don’t allow pets, you’re leaving money on the table. 

That’s because you can charge pet fees and pet rent when you have a tenant moving in with their pets. Or, you can charge a pet deposit if you’re willing to give that money back at the end of the lease term the same way you refund a security deposit. 

Here’s how these options work for you:

  • You can charge a pet fee.

Pet fees are non-refundable. The amount is up to you. Most pet fees we see range from $150 to $500 per pet. You can collect the pet fee before your tenants move in. 

Most pet fees are collected one time and they are often charged per pet. That means if your pet fee is $200, and your tenant moves in with two cats, you’ll want to collect a $400 pet fee before the tenant moves in. 

With a pet fee, the money is non-refundable, even if you don’t have to use it to pay for pet damage. If you do find pet damage after a tenant moves out, you can pay for pet repairs out of this fee. 

  • You can charge a pet deposit.

Deposits are different. Your tenant will pay the deposit before moving in, but you’ll only be able to use the money to pay for pet-related damage. You’ll have to return anything that wasn’t used at the end of the lease term. So, you may charge a $400 refundable pet deposit. If your tenant’s dog chews a hole in a wall and you pay $250 to repair it, you’ll need to return the remaining $150 from the pet deposit. 

Some owners prefer to charge the deposit instead of the fee because they believe the hope of getting the pet deposit back will incentivize tenants to keep a close eye on their pets and not allow any damage.

  • Pet rent 

You can also charge pet rent. This is paid every month that the tenant is living in the property with their pet. We’ve seen amounts that range from $25 per pet to $60 per pet. You’ll add this amount to the rental amount every month, giving you more income and a bit of a reserve in case you need to do cleaning or make repairs that are due to the pets. 

Increasing Jacksonville Tenant Quality 

A few unfortunate incidents aside, we have noticed that pet owners are generally responsible people who contribute to a positive rental experience.  

This doesn’t mean they’re all perfect, but if you find a tenant who takes good care of their pet, you can be pretty sure that they’ll take good care of your property. 

We understand the concern that owners have about the damage that animals can potentially do to a property, but you’ll find that pets actually cause much less damage than people do. Good pet owners are good tenants. They take care of their animals, keep up with vet visits, and take care of your property. You’ll find they want a safe, clean, and happy home for their animals.

Most pet owners understand the extra costs that come with renting a home. They’ll be prepared to pay a pet fee or pet rent. They’ll agree to extra inspections. You’re likely to find pet owners to be easy to work with.

Protecting Your Jacksonville Investment Property 

If you’re going to allow pets, which we recommend, you’ll want to protect yourself by creating a strong pet policy that’s clear and consistent. Decide whether you’ll allow pets on a case-by-case basis. You don’t have to approve the tenant who has six Pit Bulls or a litter of kittens. Screen your tenants and your tenants’ pets. 

  • Pet Policy

Here’s how to put together a good pet policy:

  1. Gather specific pet information for screening. On your application, ask about pets. You’ll need to know how many pets the tenant has, what breeds they are, how big they are, and how old they are. Ask for names and photos. You can ask for veterinarian information, too. You can require records of vaccinations as well as flea and tick treatments. 
  2. Set limits on the number of pets you’ll allow, and/or the size. For example, you can say that you’ll only allow one pet per property or two pets per property. You can require pets to be less than 30 pounds. You can require them to be at least two years old.
  3. Check with your insurance company about restrictions on dangerous breeds. Everyone who owns a Pit Bull or a Doberman will assure you that the dog is as sweet as can be. That may be true, but insurance companies tend not to cover dogs that are considered vicious. You should prohibit these breeds or require your tenants to purchase additional insurance that will hold you harmless if something happens. 
  4. Conduct tenant reference checks with former landlords. When you’re evaluating a tenant’s rental history, ask current and former landlords about the pets. You’ll want to know if they were well-behaved, if there were any complaints, and if the pet was responsible for any damage.
  • Inspections

Conduct routine inspections on your pet-filled Jacksonville properties. You can look for evidence of pet damage. When you drive by the home, you can check to see that dogs are on leashes, and you’ll know that the lawn has not been torn up by the animals. 

Service animals, companion animals, and emotional support animals are not considered pets. You cannot prohibit those animals, and you cannot do things like charge pet rent or pet fees. The law protects your tenants against such restrictions because these animals are not seen as pets – they are accommodations. Don’t forget that while you have the choice to allow or not allow pets, you may not prohibit service or companion animals when tenants are moving in with them.

Pet Screening

We’d be happy to share a sample pet policy with you or provide some insight on how to effectively screen pets. If you have any questions, please contact us at Red Rooster Property Management. We have a lot of experience working with rental properties in Jacksonville, St. Johns, and Orange Park.