If you're not aware of it yet, at RentHub Property Management, we take the screening process very seriously. Screening your potential tenants thoroughly within the requirements of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a delicate balance to walk—but it's also the first line of defense for your Plano rental properties.
However, what about your tenants with pets? Just as you screen every potential tenant, you should be screening every potential pet, too. Think about the damages and painful phone calls that could have been avoided in the past if you had given the same care to screening Fido!
At RentHub, we know that when investors choose to open up your properties to pet owners, it can seriously increase your revenue. It also ups the likelihood that you'll hold onto reliable, long-term tenants: pet owners are very often reluctant to uproot their lives once they'd found a home for themselves and their golden retriever—but how can you tell that that retriever really is golden?
In this blog, we'll dive into the importance of screening your potential "pet renters" for your Plano rental properties, as well as give a brief overview of how the process plays out.
If You Allow Pets, You Need Pet Policies
Just as your lease outlines the behavior you expect of your human tenants, it should also house the specific guidelines you have pertaining to pets. Consider your pet screening process as an extension of this: screening pets for your Plano rental properties ensures that any potential paws and scales meet the guidelines set down for your investments.
Before you even start screening pets, you should have a clearly defined set of expectations within your lease for what types of pets are allowed from the start. Having this set of criteria in advance helps shield you from claims of discrimination that could result from a "spot treatment" approach to screening pets.
Developing Your Pet Policies
When developing your lease criteria, consider the following:
- Are there any varieties of pets you wouldn't feel comfortable having in your Plano rental properties? This will allow you to make distinctions about whether you'd like to allow reptiles, birds, and fish—or stick purely to furry friends.
- When it comes to pets with paws, are there species you'd rather exclude? If you'd rather not have ferrets in your rentals, now is the time to make it clear.
- For acceptable species, do you have weight or breed limitations? There's a "huge" difference between a Great Dane and a Chihuahua, for example.
- How many pets are you comfortable allowing into your rentals?
- What will you charge for pet rent or the pet deposit?
Another thing that investors should consider when composing their pet policies for any investment holdings in Plano is that the city requires all cats, dogs, and ferrets to be registered by city ordinance. An advantage to you as the investor is that such registration requires proof of current vaccinations and crucial information about the pet in question.
Making it a requirement that pet owners in Plano provide proof of registration with the city as part of your leasing terms makes it even easier to screen these types of pets.
Develop a Screening Process You Can Use Long Term
Once you've outlined the perfect pet renter for your Plano rental properties using your lease, it's time to develop a straightforward set of screening techniques you can turn to for every property.
The easiest way to do this is to work with an expert property manager in Plano: they know exactly what's needed when screening pets, and they have the local experience to make sure your process doesn't contain hidden bias.
Working with a property manager can also protect your investment portfolio in other ways when it comes to the screening process, so it can be a great value to have that additional expertise.
One of the key components of any pet-screening process is the information needed to run a "background check" on the pet in question. Critical points of data to gather are:
- The pet's name, weight, breed, sex, and age
- Prior rental history for the pet (former homes)
- Contact information for the pet's vet to verify visitation history
- Pertinent records of vaccinations and health
- A record of past behavior, including confirmation of house training (if applicable).
If you're working with a property manager in Plano, they can then verify this information for you to confirm its accuracy. If a red flag pops up during the process, that could be grounds to deny the pet.
The Service Animals Exception
When it comes to screening pets and your pet policies, there is one notable exception: Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protected classes of service animals. Currently, this protection only covers highly-trained dogs and miniature horses that have been trained to provide assistance. It is important to note that investors cannot charge pet rent or a pet deposit for service animals, as this would directly violate the Fair Housing Act.
When it comes to service animals, you must accommodate these animals just as you would a hearing aid, set of crutches, or a wheelchair.
What About "Emotional Support Animals"?
Watch out for these types of pets! It's effortless now to obtain fake certification for so-called "Therapy" or "Emotional Support Animals," and there are a growing number of forgeries each year. Keep in mind that Emotional Support Animals merely require a doctor's note—but when it comes to housing,they have the same protections under the FHA that their working counterparts do.
When you work with a property manager in Plano, navigating the confusing legal landscape of housing protections pertaining to pets makes opening up your rental properties to them far easier. When you have more than one investment, you can't afford to expose them to risk by taking chances with how you approach Emotional Support Animals.
A Property Manager Is Your Pet-Screening Professional
By the time you reach six or more investment properties, you've usually got a comfortable system emerging for what works when it comes to keeping them filled with tenants. However, all of that can come crashing down when you throw pets into the mix. They're lucrative—but they can also open you up to new dimensions of risk.
Working with an expert property manager in Plano is the first step to successfully managing the screening process when it comes to placing your "pet renters."
When you work with RentHub Property Management, you gain an ally and an asset all in one—not just for pet-screening purposes, but for every other element of operating a successful investment portfolio.
Protect your long-term wealth: get in touch with us about the unique needs of your portfolio! Whether you're seeking to grow—or just protect what you have—RentHub has you covered!