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Pet Screening - What is it and why do you need it?

Pet Screening - What is it and why do you need it?

Pet screening can be a difficult topic because, for many people, pets are a part of the family. Millennials, in particular, tend to treat their pets like children or at least valued members of their household. Allowing your tenants to have pets can increase your chances of attracting renters. It's also a chance to attract higher quality renters who will follow the rules because they know the challenges of finding a property that allows pets and want to stay in their new home as long as possible.

However, as a property owner, you'll want to know if a potentially problematic pet is moving in alongside a tenant. When considering pet screening in Phoenix, or other AZ areas, here is what you will need to know from experts in Arizona property management.

Why Allow Pets

While having a no pet policy might be tempting and save you the headache of screenings, you may lose out on some amazing tenants who would, quite rightly, choose their pets over your apartment.

Why is Pet Screening Important? 

There are several reasons to add pet screening to your rental protocol. Arizona property management experts recommend utilizing pet screenings in order to:

Mitigate Risk: People can get creative about the pets they keep, and, in some cases, they may even choose to keep animals that are not necessarily safe to have as pets. For instance, snakes and large spiders may be considered pets by some but are terrifying to others. It is also possible that you’ll have an applicant who has a pet that is not legal in the state.

Likewise, if you have multiple tenants on your property, you’ll want to ensure that you don't wind up with one aggressive pet putting other beloved four-legged family members at risk.

Preserve Property:  Even the most well-behaved pets might cause some damage to your property either by chewing on the blinds, tearing up the carpet, or even having an accident in the house. While pet owners typically know their pets, they may not be entirely forthcoming on their application because they want to avoid a higher pet deposit.

Allow Smoother Entry onto Property: If something needs to get fixed in the house, or in case of an emergency, it may be helpful to know not only your tenants but also their pets. While a landlord does have the right to enter the property for repairs or send a designated repairperson, things may be a bit more complicated if there is an overly enthusiastic dog who demands attention or a cat that typically wants to climb onto visitors or that could try to escape when the door is open.

Knowing that there is an animal on the property ahead of time will help prevent unpleasant surprises and may even avoid accidents.

How to Screen Pets

You should have a defined pet policy that you can present to potential renters and you will definitely want it as part of a lease agreement in case a tenant decides to get a pet while living on your property. If you have never had to screen pets before, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Consider Your Property: In some cases, your property may not be a suitable home for certain pets. For instance, if you have a limited amount of space, you may want to restrict pet sizing. If you have multiple renters, you may consider noise issues that could come with larger pets or with having multiple pets in one unit.

Service and Therapy Animals: In some cases, a potential tenant may have a service or therapy animal. While a service dog is trained to help people with disabilities, a therapy dog is trained to provide comfort for people who may be struggling mentally. In both cases, the law may require you to make an exception for this specific tenant. The Fair Housing Act requires property owners to allow renters to have service animals in their homes, even if the property isn't typically pet-friendly.

Avoid Stereotyping Dog Breeds: There is a lot of false information about ‘dangerous’ or ‘aggressive’ dog breeds, but there is no proof that certain breeds are more aggressive than others. However, if you are concerned about other tenants or want to avoid problems, consider imposing a weight limit for dogs rather than a breed restriction.

This Outside the Box: Some people keep uncommon pets, such as birds and reptiles. You will want to have a plan for dealing with people's pets that do not fit the standard ‘dog of cat’ scenario. You also will need to have a plan for people who have multiple pets.

Know the Local Law: Some pets may not be legally kept as pets in your area. Knowing the law will help ensure that you are not unknowingly housing illegal pets. Some pets may also be