A Guide to Allowing Pets at Your Nashville Rental Property

September 8, 2023 TCSMgmt

A Guide to Allowing Pets at Your Nashville Rental Property

A Guide to Allowing Pets at Your Nashville Rental Property - Article Banner

If you’re wondering whether you should allow pets at your Nashville rental property, the short answer is this: yes. You should allow pets, or at least consider them. Pets moving in with tenants brings you a number of benefits.  

There’s also some risk involved. Even the most loved and well-behaved pets can be unpredictable.  

Find a good balance by screening pets thoroughly and implementing a consistent and detailed pet policy. This allows you to enjoy all the advantages of offering a pet-friendly rental property with fewer of the risks.  

Here’s our guide to allowing pets at your Nashville rental property.  

Mention Pets in Your Marketing 

 You want to let prospective residents know that you’re open to pets. Be sure this is part of your listing. By considering pets, you’re attracting a larger pool of tenants. When prospective renters see that you’re willing to consider pets, they’ll be more serious about your listing. Pet owners make up more than half of the rental market in Nashville. You don’t want to alienate such a large section of the tenant pool. 

 In your listing, say that you’re willing to consider pets. This isn’t a blanket allowance. It gives you the flexibility to deny a pet if it doesn’t meet your screening criteria, but it also lets tenants who have dogs or cats know that they can seriously consider your home. 

 Screen Pets while Screening Nashville Tenants 

 When you screen tenants for your Nashville rental property, you’ll look at all the usual criteria, including credit and income. You’ll check criminal history and eviction history. You will, hopefully, also check a prospective tenant’s rental history. That may include talking to current and former landlords. This is an opportunity to ask about the tenant’s pets. 

 Questions might include: 

  • Did the pets leave behind any damage? 
  • Were the pets generally behaved, or were there complaints from neighbors about noise and mess?
  • Did the tenant follow any pet policies that were included in the lease agreement?

 By talking to former landlords about their experience with a tenant’s pets, you’ll get an idea of whether it’s a risk or an easy decision to let the pets move into your property. 

 In addition to talking to former landlords, you may want to collect some information from the pet’s veterinarian as well. As for records that demonstrate the dog or cat is up to date on all their vaccines and shots. You don’t want an animal running around the neighborhood with communicable diseases. You can require proof of flea treatment; cleaning carpets after an infestation of fleas can be expensive and time-consuming. 

 Screen the pets about as carefully as you screen the pet owners. 

 Charging Pet Fees and Pet Rents

 One of the reasons we always advise owners to accept pets is because you can earn more rent when tenants are moving in with pets. You earn more by charging a pet fee or pet rent. The pet fee is nonrefundable, and you’ll charge it for every animal that moves in with your tenants. If there are two cats and one dog, for example, you can ask for a pet fee for each. 

 Typically, a pet fee is between $100 and $300 per pet. 

 If you prefer, you can collect a pet deposit. That’s going to be different; you’ll have to return the deposit at the end of the lease term if you don’t end up using the money to pay for pet damage and pet cleaning. Some landlords believe this provides an incentive for tenants to ensure their pets do not damage the property. But, if you want to keep the money that’s collected, call it a pet fee and not a pet deposit. 

 Pet rent is collected every month, and it’s also per-pet. We have seen pet rents that start at $20 per month and go as high as $50 or even $60 per month.

 Nashville Rental Properties and Pet Restrictions 

 You can be willing to consider pets and also empowered to restrict the number, size, and types of pets you’ll allow. 

 For example, a lot of insurance policies will not cover dangerous dog breeds. If you love Pit Bulls, you might argue that they’re not so dangerous. We get it. But, a lot of landlord policies would disagree. They maintain a list of specific dog breeds that they won’t cover if there’s a claim. You might want to restrict those dog breeds. 

 You can put limits on the number of animals you’ll allow as well. If you’re renting out a home in Nashville with a large fenced yard, three dogs may not seem unreasonable. In a 500-square-foot apartment, however, that may not work. Decide how many pets you want to allow. You can also restrict ages. Maybe puppies and kittens turn you off because they’re not necessarily house trained yet. In that case, ask for mature animals only. Maybe you want dogs who are less than 20 pounds. That’s fine, too. 

 Implement any restrictions that will make you feel better about allowing pets in your Nashville rental property. 

 When a Pet is Not a Pet: Service and Support Animals

As you put together a pet policy that makes sense for you, there’s something important to remember. 

 You can choose whether or not to allow pets. You can collect a pet fee and pet rent. You can place restrictions on the types of pets you’ll allow and screen the pet well and ask your tenants to follow all the rules and requirements you put into place around the pet.

 When a tenant with a disability moves in with a service animal or a companion animal, those animals are not pets. They’re legally protected and they’re seen as accommodations. Therefore, you cannot disallow them. You cannot charge a pet fee or pet rent. You cannot restrict their size nor their breed. 

 Service animals and companion animals (most commonly emotional support animals) fall under the Americans with Disabilities Act and The Fair Housing Act. There are specific protections that you do not want to violate, or you’ll be facing expensive penalties. 

 We can help you put together a pet policy that keeps your Nashville rental property open to pets but also protected from the potential damage they can do. Contact us at TCS Management.

TCS Management is a full service property management company headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, also serving Cherry Hill, NJ, Wilmington, Delaware, Nashville, Tennessee and the surrounding areas. We focus on single-family and multifamily residential property management of homes, condos, townhomes, and apartment buildings.

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