Owning investment properties in Chicago is, no doubt, a lucrative business. There’s never a shortage of tenants, neighborhoods shift in popularity ensuring there’s always somewhere that’s booming, and there are plenty of ways to attract more tenants if you do somehow find you’re in a slump. One way that many Chicago rental property owners boost interest in their units is by allowing their tenants to have pets. Cats and dogs are the most common pets for renters to have, but some have birds or small pets like ferrets and hamsters. While allowing your tenants to bring their furry (or feathered) companions into your property can help you find better and more reliable tenants, there are some precautions you may want to consider. As a Chicago property management company, our goal at Lofty is to make sure all of our property owners are well-prepared so that they can have the best experience being real estate investors. To us, that means providing them with the information they need to be the most profitable and secure within the business. Here are our most important tips about allowing pets in rental properties.
5) Make Sure Your Tenants Know Their Responsibilities
When you allow your tenants to bring Fluffy or Spot into your rentals, you’re opening a line of mutual trust—they trust that you’re going to be a good landlord, and in exchange, you’re trusting that their pets won’t wreck the place or become a nuisance. Be sure that your tenants are aware of their responsibilities. For instance, make sure they know their pets should be up to date on vaccinations and registered with the city (if applicable), and be sure to outline upkeep of common areas on the property (for example, let them know that not cleaning up after their dog outside may result in fines, or that their pets may not roam hallways unattended). Outlining tenants’ responsibilities before a pet even enters the building is the best way to ensure that everyone stays happy. No surprises is a good thing!
4) Plan Ahead for Damage to the Units, Just in Case
Of course, even though every pet owner claims their pet won’t cause any damage at all, as a property owner, you know that’s rarely the case. Pets may have accidents, or their claws may grow out a bit too long at some point leading to scratched floors, or maybe, after 5 years of perfect behavior, a tenant’s dog gets bored and chews on your building’s cabinets.
Whatever the case may be, it’s important for you to plan ahead for this type of damage. There are a few ways to do this. First, many owners choose to charge a pet deposit. These can either be refundable or not, and help cover the cost of any damage that may be caused during your tenant’s stay. Another option is charging additional pet rent each month. This will generally work out to be roughly the same amount of money that you would charge for the pet deposit, but since it’s spread out over the course of the lease, it can be an easier cost for the tenant to shoulder. If you’re unsure of what to do to prepare for pet damage in your pet-friendly Chicago rentals, consult with your property management company—they’ll have plenty of experience and advice!
3) Look Into Different Pet-Ownership Clauses on Your Insurance
When typical homeowners have pets, they may need to add insurance for their pets onto their policy to cover issues like dog bites. As a property owner, you’ll want to consult with your insurance company and your property managers to find out what you’ll need to do to make sure that you’re covered in the event that something happens on your property. Dog bite insurance claims are more common than you may think, so it’s essential to make sure that you’re prepared for problems (while being hopeful that those problems don’t arise, of course).
2) Have Your Leases Outline What Will Happen In the Event of a Problem or Emergency
While tenants who have pets tend to be more responsible and reliable, you’ll want to outline consequences if there are problems with their pets. For instance, if one of your tenants has an overly aggressive dogs that becomes a menace to other tenants, or gets in fights in the yard, you may not want to continue the rental relationship. It should be outlined in your lease agreements what will happen if there is a continual problem with a tenant and their pets. Ask your Chicago property management company how to properly phrase these concepts in your lease so that you can foster an amicable and agreeable lease agreement with your tenants. For example, outline a system of warnings.
1) Know What You’ll Do if Someone’s Pet Injures Someone
Your property managers will be able to better explain what you’ll need to plan out, but you will want to make sure you have a plan in case a tenant’s pet injures you or someone else on the property. Your insurance should cover any issues, however in the meantime, you’ll want to have a mediation plan set up just in case a problem ever occurs. Whether a dog bites someone through the fence or a cat scratches another tenant and that tenant ends up in the doctor’s office, you’ll want to have things covered.
Offering Your Pet-Friendly Rentals in Chicago
As a property investor in Chicago, you’ve likely heard all of the benefits of allowing your properties to be pet-friendly. If you’re interested in learning more about transitioning to allowing pet-friendly units, talk with a Chicago property manager today. At Lofty, our goal is making sure you succeed so that you can live the life you deserve—we’ll help you set up everything you need to ensure your properties and tenants are ready for man’s best friend. Contact us anytime to learn more about how we can help you achieve your property investing goals.
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