With floor stains, scratch marks and garden damage a potential outcome, why should you allow pets onto your property?
The decision to allow pets into your investment property is important – and when you start thinking about dog hair, possible claw marks and minor damage to your half-a-million-dollar investment, it’s tempting to say no, and this is what the majority of Australian investors do.
The math is pretty straightforward: if you exclude every potential tenant who owns a pet, you’re eliminating a huge number of households from your rental pool – 60%, according to the Australian Companion Animal Council.
And yet, a survey by the Real Estate Institute of Australia showed that 40% of investors don’t allow pets, and 28% weren’t sure if they would or not. Talk about finding a niche market of renters!
If all those renters with pets – and there are millions of them – are hunting for the rare property that will allow their furry friends to stay, doesn’t that make pet-friendly homes a little more sought-after? Yes it does, and in fact realestate.com.au says that renters are often willing to pay a little extra to cover their pets staying too.
How can you benefit from allowing pets?
• Higher rental returns. Pet owners can be willing to pay a little more if it means the difference between keeping their pet or not.
• Larger pool of renters. Having a property that’s desirable to a significantly larger pool of households – and in fact, one that sets it apart from most of the other listings on the market – can significantly reduce downtime between tenants.
• Longer tenancies. The Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) says that tenants with pets tend to stay in the same place longer, to avoid disruption to their animals. If they are good tenants, and your agent makes regular property visits to ensure the property is being treated well, then that can only be good news.
• Responsible tenants. Tenants with pets can prove to be more respectful of the property and provide better upkeep. They will be aware whether the landlord has included a ‘make-good’ clause into the contract and that they will ultimately be responsible for the cost of all repairs.
• Security. Allowing a dog can deter burglars and vandals.
If your concern is damage to the property, fear not: the Residential Tenancy Authority says that the onus falls on the tenants to clean up and repair any damage made by their pets, and that investors can include specific clauses relating to pets in the contract, such as:
• The type of pets allowed (for example: small dogs, cats, fish).
• How many pets can stay on the property.
• Whether animals, such as dogs, must be outdoors only.
If you decide to allow pets, there are several ways you can protect yourself:
• Include a clause in the contract stating that tenants must disclose all of their pets to you, so you know what you’re getting into when you agree to their tenancy.
• Ask to personally meet the animals of your short-listed tenants – this would be part of your agreement with the managing agent, who would do this on your behalf, as the investment property may not be local to yourself.
• Disqualify animals that don’t suit your property; for example, if you only have a small courtyard, only allow small dogs instead of larger breeds.
As the property owner, you can be as flexible as you choose when it comes to pets. Just remember that with so many pet owners out there, a property that welcomes animals has an enormous competitive advantage in the rental market.