I got a call on Sunday from my favourite tenant. She’s been living in one of my investment properties for nearly four years, and has been nothing but a pleasure to deal with. However, the only time she calls me, which is rare, is when there is a problem. So when I saw her number on the call display, I must admit, I wasn’t looking forward to hearing what she had to say. To my pleasant surprise, however, nothing was wrong, but she wanted to know if I was okay with her getting a puppy…
I am a dog lover. I’ve had dogs my whole life. So I get it. But I’m also a homeowner, and I understand the damage dogs can inflict on a house (you should see the damage my 100-pound Ridgeback has done to our hardwood floors!). What’s more, my perfect tenant already has a dog… this puppy would be her second.
The last thing I want in one of my investment properties is a bunch of yapping dogs waking up the neighbours; or a ‘cat lady’ for a tenant.
So my knee-jerk reaction was to tell her “one was my limit per tenant”. But, being the dog lover that I am, and recognizing how awesome a tenant she has been, I put myself in her shoes and thought twice. I told her to give me a day as I had to check into some things, like insurance, before I made a decision.
The next day I called her back and told her I was cool with her getting a second dog. Why did I do it?
Two reasons: The breed and the features of my rental property.
Let me explain why a landlord should or shouldn’t allow dogs.
Should Landlords Allow Dogs?
The two most important considerations when deciding whether to allow dogs or not are the type of property you own and the breed of dog that will be living in your investment property.
First, let’s go through which types of rental properties are not suited for dogs and which ones may be okay.
If you own a rental condo, you shouldn’t allow dogs. It’s not worth it. There are a couple reasons for this. First, most strata councils set limits on the size of dog you can have in your suite. Typically, it is based on the weight of the dog (maxing out around 40 pounds). This is an ass backwards rule (because small dogs are often yappy and more aggressive), but nevertheless, it’s a common one.
Also, newsflash, condos are surrounded by other condos. Walls are often shared and sometimes thin. Noise complaints are the biggest concern with renting out a condo; and dogs, particularly yappy ones, increase the chances of having to deal with noise complaints. Bear in mind, you have to deal directly with Strata if your tenant is getting a lot of complaints against them. You don’t want this, obviously.
Here are some of the inherently yappy dogs (which, ironically, are often small dogs – the ones allowed in most condos):
- Yorkshire terrier
- Hounds (they like to talk)
- Chihuahua (these are the definition of yappy dogs)
- Miniature Pinschers
If your rental property has carpet in it, dogs, particularly puppies, will make messes that sometimes cannot be totally removed. So unless you’re comfortable with potentially having to replace the carpet when your tenant moves out, don’t allow dogs.
If your property doesn’t have carpet (which I recommend whether you are renting to tenants with dogs or not), that eliminates the potential cost in replacing it if a dog makes one too many messes. However, big dogs absolutely butcher hardwood floors. And refurbishing hardwoods can be quite expensive. If you’re smart, you’ll have laminate or vynil plank flooring in your rental (as I’ve explained in previous articles) for numerous reasons.
Dangerous Dogs for Landlords…
Some of the larger dog breeds have negative stigmas attached to them – such as Rottweilers and Pit Bulls. Most landlords I know would never allow these breeds because of public perception. I have first-hand experience with Rottweilers (I’ve had two), and can tell you that they are big teddy bears. Their behavior is completely dependent on the owner and how well the dogs are trained. A bad owner can make a Poodle vicious. Regardless, because of public perception, unless you are renting out a large home with a big backyard and significant distance between you and the neighboring homes, stay away from renting to people with these, and similar, breeds. It’s not worth the potential headaches. I hate writing this, but from a landlord perspective, it’s sound advice.
The so-called ‘dangerous dogs’ statistically aren’t actually all that dangerous. Care2 reported, in respect to dog bites, that “The most aggressive breed, the study found, was the Dachshund. The researchers discovered that that one in five have bit or attempted to bite a stranger, and one in twelve have lashed out at their owners. Chihuahuas were in second place, and Jack Russells were the third most aggressive breed…”
Remember, smaller dogs aren’t necessarily better than big dogs.
If your investment property is a house, and you decide to rent it to tenants with a dog, be prepared for brown spots on the grass. When dogs urinate (particularly females) they burn the grass. If a dog continually urinates in the same area, which they like to do, it will eventually turn brown and die… this sounds somewhat trivial, but believe me, it can be an eyesore.
This is the backyard of one of my rental properties. Great tenants, but they have a dog… as you can see:
Additionally, if you are going to allow tenants to have a dog, lay out the rules for picking up after the pooch outside. Let your tenants know it must be done daily – no excuses.
So far, I’ve given you a ton of reasons to avoid tenants with dogs, but that’s not my intention. There are real positives to allowing dogs. In fact, allowing a dog in your rental property can be a smart business decision.
Pros to Allowing Dogs in Your Rental Property
Dogs improve their owner’s quality of life. If your tenants are happy, then you’ll be happy. The happier they are in your rental, the longer they will likely stay there. And that’s always good for your ROI. Remember, high turnover kills profits!
Secondly, it’s hard to find rental properties that allow dogs. So, if you decide to allow dogs, you can charge a slight premium and appeal to a tenant group that is often ostracized by other landlords. Allowing dogs increases the size of your tenant market. Plus, most people I know with dogs have big hearts, and they make for responsible tenants
If you’re a landlord and rent out a condo, my advice is to stay away from renting to people with dogs. Make it a rule. It’s not worth the potential headaches. If your investment property is a house, then take into consideration the tips I’ve outlined in this article. Small dogs often are not as ideal as big dogs, believe me. Know the breed before allowing them to live in your rental.