Pet Liability in Multifamily: 5 Things to Know
One thing is for sure, America loves pets. For so many of us, no home is complete without man’s best friend. Recent stats show that 71.1 million US households have pets, and according to the American Veterinary Association, 50% or more of renters have pets.
All cuteness aside, this does pose some serious concerns for landlords, investors, and property managers – especially when dealing with multifamily assets.
The reality is that having pets in a multifamily community comes along with substantial risks.
But, properties can miss out on a large demographic of potential residents if they impose a ‘no pets’ rule. Pet-friendly properties attract more leads, generate greater incomes and ROI, and keep tenants for longer.
When weighing the pros and cons, it puts the multifamily sector in a tight situation.
Fortunately, there are a few key strategies that can protect your multifamily property from pet liability. Taking the steps to limit the pet-related risks will keep your asset safe and your residents (and their pets) happy.
Consider employing these 5 safeguards to reduce the pet-related property risks.
Establish Breed Restrictions
Breed restrictions can be a powerful way to avoid big problems down the line. Bigger dogs with big personalities are more likely to cause property damage and community harm.
The most common breeds to think twice about are pit bulls, German Shepherds, Doberman Pinscher, Rottweilers, and wolf-hybrids.
Keep your guards up, but make sure to approach this situation gently.
Exclusive rules like this do not apply to service animals that provide aid and support to their special-needs owners. So, if someone is applying with an off-limits animal, first ask if they are certified service trained.
You don’t want to say ‘no’ before finding out if the rule even applies to this applicant, nor do you want to get caught in a legal problem.
Make Pet-Related Rental Insurance a Must
Residents that have pets need to have rental insurance policies that cover pet-related incidents, such as attacks or serious property damage. Add this requirement into the lease to officially back up the rule.
This establishes a legitimate loophole that can keep the property owner from being held responsible in case legal action is taken or expensive repairs need to be made. This is one of the best ways to keep your financial assets safe.
The best tip for keeping pet-friendly properties running smoothly is to stay current with all the latest information. Your residents don’t live stagnant lives – things are constantly changing. If you’re relying on data from two years ago, it’s likely that you’ve fallen out of the loop.
Update the pet files by asking residents to re-file for their pets at least once a year. If you see new animals around the building, send a friendly inquiry to the unit reminding them to officially register any new animals. During unit inspections, keep an eye out for signs of any unregistered pets on the property.
It’s these little diligent responsibilities that establish a seamless web of property data.
While enforcing protocols is imperative, be sure not to harass tenants about their pets.
Keep in mind that these are beloved family members, and the last thing a property manager wants to do is make a resident feel like their furry-friend is being scrutinized. Be friendly, kind, and compassionate – but don’t be lenient about the rules.
Avoid pet-related headaches, damages, and issues with these simple safety measures.