10 Vital Things to Include In A Rental Contract Regarding Pets.

Adding a pet clause in your renter contract is key to avoiding legal battles after the renter vacates. Protect yourself and your property BEFORE the damage.

Thank you for visiting Ms. Fix It’s site. As a former top-tier real estate agent, and seasoned landlord, I decided to start a side business helping landlords, and homeowners get their property back on the market. Part of that process, for landlords, is getting all the necessary paperwork prepared. One of the biggest fears of being a landlord is having a renter who destroys your home. I have experienced this scenario first hand and do my best to help fellow landlords with measures to take to prevent as much physical and financial damage as possible. Below you will find suggested language you may use when creating renter contracts. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, it’s your home, your investment, and your income. 

This is suggested language only. I am not a lawyer and advise that you have your lawyer review any contract when in doubt of its validity. Please make sure you check with current city and state laws prior to obtaining renter signatures.

10 items to include in your renter contract regarding pets.

  1. Ask for the number of pets, type of pets, and age. Ask if any of the pets are pregnant or “fixed”? You could easily agree to one dog and then end up with eight untrained puppies. 
  2. If your city, county or HOA has pet breed or size restrictions, state that you will need to obtain permission PRIOR to contract signing. 
  3. If you do allow dogs, consider adding language regarding outdoor and indoor kennel use. You may need to purchase the outdoor kennel but a $400 kennel is a lot cheaper than new siding.
  4. Be specific about pet rules. Such as, “If the landlord received more than “x” complaints regarding your pet from neighbors or officials” …. then add the consequences. But, make sure you follow through. If you don’t, the renter will be able to state that in the past you let things slide and it works against you in court. 
  5. Ask for a substantial pet deposit. In the past, I have asked for $500 but quickly realized that it was never enough to cover the damage. Charge per pet. 
  6. Include language about emotional support pets. You have rights. I will write up a blog on Washington state policies to help breakdown the misconceptions. You are not required to allow multiple emotional support animals. You are also allowed to say, “no” under certain circumstances. 
  7. Demand a pet policy rider to be added to renter insurance. It doesn’t cost your renter much money and it will help if the pet causes significant damage. 
  8. Do regular inspections. Pet urine can destroy carpet and carpet padding very quickly. I had a renter whose pet literally ate my walls. 
  9. Require that all pets be licensed with the city. 
  10. This is the most important.. before your renter moves in, take photos of EVERY inch of the home inside and out. Include the landscape. Photos are the only evidence that will hold up in small claims court. Make sure they are date stamped. Take the photos while you are doing the final walk-through with your renter. If they are aware that you are creating solid documentation of the condition of the home and yard, they are a lot less likely to challenge you regarding damage.