Pet policy? Pet Insurance?

I am preparing to rent a property and everyone tells me to avoid pet owners. They cite the increased property damage and liability as the primary reasons.

As a pet owner, I know that it is difficult to find a decent house that accepts pets. If I open my home to pet-owners, it seems like I would increase the number of potential tenants, can justify an increased rent, and the home owners will probably be willing to lease for a longer period.

Here’s my question: are there insurances that will cover the risk of damage due to pets and the increased risk of liability? I imagine I can charge a non-refundable cleaning fee up front that would take care of carpet cleaning, and my insurance should cover any damages, right? As for the liability, can I force a tenant to purchase insurance that will cover their dog biting my neighbor?

I really want to open the home to pet-owners, but I need to make sure I’m covered. Thanks for your help.

I don’t want you left hanging so I keep attempting to provide responses on areas in which I’m not real knowledgeable, but here goes.

I allow pets and it does expand the market. My experience has been that the pet owners determine the end result, not the pet. In other words, if you get good folks, you get good pets, and vice versa.

I don’t think most insurance policies cover pet damages. I know there are certain breeds of dogs that are specifically excluded from some liability policies. As to whether or not this issue can be forced, I’m not sure.

I have had folks tell me in the past that I could not require my tenants to purchase renter’s insurance, that it could only be a “recommendation”. I still require it and have for many years.

I allow small dogs - usually 20 lbs or less. I would not allow pit bulls, german sheperds, etc because there is a liability issue with the larger dogs.

Several years ago, we removed all carpet out of every unit (as it went empty) and replaced it with tile. Now I’m not nearly as concerned about dogs “marking their territory” on the tile as I used to be with the carpet.

Our clean up expenses have remained about the same, before and after allowing small pets.

That’s dredging an old one up from the tombs.

I allows pets. I’ve have a lot more damage done by kids than I have ever had done by pets.

Check with your insurance agent. Your regular liability should cover your tenants’ pets. Your insurance company might have a list of dog breeds they won’t cover.

You can not buy insurance to protect you against pet damage. You can charge a pet deposit. In some states that can be a non-refundable pet fee. My belief is that a refundable fee will make the tenants work harder to prevent damage.

I interview the dog. I want to see a nice temperament, some manners, and good grooming. If the dog is clean and has some training, then the owners take good care of it. You can also ask their landlord references if there was any problem with the pets.

I do not allow outside only dogs or chaining of the dog. I only allow dogs that are members of the family. Actually, I’ve got 2 pages of my written criteria concerning pets. But the short version is that the pet must be well cared for.

I also require proof of rabies vacination.

According to you will find that you may have a problem with your insurance company covering a problem caused by specific dog breeds. Those breeds are. Akita, Alaskan Malamute, Chow Chow, Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd, Pit Bull, Presa Canario, Rottweiler, Siberian Husky, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and any Wolf hybrids.

I’d do three things.

1.) Have a 4% increase for “pet rent”
2.) Have an additional 1-2 weeks deposit for each pet.
3.) Have a pet policy. Only allow pets with an average breed size of 40 lbs. No more than two pets total. Pets must be of legal in your area. Pet owners must comply with all laws regarding animals.

I like renting to people with pets because they will pay more money for that fenced pet yard.
They will stay longer as it is more difficult for them to move.
They will be less picky as they are already people who can deal with dog poop, hair, feeding and cleaning.

I get $250 pet deposit, fully refundable if no pet damage. I do not return the money until the property has been cleaned and is 100% ready to rent again.

I have written pet rules that tenants sign. I now charge $50 from that $250 if we have to clean up pet hair from furniture, couches, rugs, etc.

Dogs do cause more wear and tear. Nail scratches on doors and chewed-up fence tops by big breeds are the most common thing I see. Old English works well to cover scratches. I charge the tenant if we have repairs. I expect more carpet cleaning.

I second the “potential dangerous breeds” exclusion. I just saw a Pit Bull “turn on” for the first time. My son’s neighbor’s friendly, sweet Pit. Who jumped the fence to play with my son’s sheep dog. They played happily, ate dog kibbles out of two bowls, romped around for an hour or so.

Suddenly I heard dog screaming and rushed to the back patio. My son was holding the Pit Bull and bashing the dog’s head against the porch railing because the Pit had his jaws locked on my son’s dog’s back. Both dogs were lifted off the ground but the dog would not release. The dog screaming went on and on.

I don’t know why I thought of it, but instinctively I reached over the Pit’s head and covered his nostrils with my hand. He released. I felt he could not bite me as his mouth was already full of dog, and he had to breathe somehow.

My son rushed his dog to the Vet where she was treated for deep puncture wounds. The neighbor (with 3 small kids) got rid of the Pit Bull.

This attack took place out of the blue, for no apparent reason. Not in the Pit Bull’s yard, and with his familiar over-the-fence dog friend. Never trust a Pit. You don’t know when that instinct will turn on.


People will still try to say “Oh he/she is such a sweet dog (pit bull). They’ve never hurt anyone.” There is a reason insurance companies have “dangerous dog” lists. I agree Furnished…you never know.
One of our best tenant couples wanted to get a dog.
I asked what kind. “Oh, just a mixed breed.”
My next question was “Is any part of that mix Pit Bull, Doberman, Chow, or Rottweiler?”
“Yes, it’s part Pit.”
“Our insurance company doesn’t allow us to have any dog that is on the ‘dangerous dog’ list on the premises. I’m sorry, but I cannot allow you to have this dog and violate our insurance stipulations.”

I was still asked once again a couple months later “Are you sure we can’t bring that dog here. She’s out with someone we know in the country and they’re just not treating her right. She’d be much better off here.”

So after they were told the dog wasn’t allowed on the property, they still got the dog anyway and then wanted to work it in later. They were told no again when they asked to bring it there. I don’t want a dog mistreated, but I’m not going to let that affect my insurance policy.

The other key is that I know they haven’t brought this dog to our property because I frequently drive by this property (and our others) and stop by periodically.

At one of our other properties, I went over to collect some money one day and saw a pit bull in the back yard. When questioned, the tenant gave some sob story about how her newphew thought someone was going to steal the dog from his yard so he wanted to bring it over there where it would be safe. I informed her she had 48 hours before the dog would not be safe from the animal control officer who would come remove it (and she would be kicked out too for violating the lease). The dog was gone two days later when I drove by again.