More than 60 percent of U.S. households own at least one pet, and that includes renters who may be looking at one of your Central Ohio properties. As a landlord or property manager, having a clearly defined pet policy in your lease agreement is essential to setting expectations for your tenants as well as minimizing any potential conflict.

Here are a few important things to think about when it comes to pets and your lease agreements:

First, you need to explicitly identify in your lease whether pets are permitted at your property.

Your lease should be very clear in terms of whether pets are allowed (and if so, what kind of pets you permit). If they are not permitted, it’s helpful to write that in big, bold letters. You might also consider having your residents initial next to the pet policy.

If pets are not permitted at the property, it also needs to be very clear that they are not allowed at any time, even for a short visit (with the exception of service animals, which are not considered pets).

Second, it’s important to remember that pets extend beyond just cats and dogs.

People have all kinds of different animals they call pets – chickens, snakes, rodents, birds, fish, you name it.

As it pertains to your policy, you need to decide if you want to allow these types of animals to live in your property. If you do allow them, you also need to consider whether you want to put any restrictions in place – for example, maybe you will only allow only fish tanks up to 5 gallons or you choose to set some other limits on what is or is not allowed.

The importance of defining your pet policy

Before settling on your pet policy, you’ll also want to check with your insurance company to see if they have any restrictions or requirements in place regarding the types of pets they’ll allow your tenants to have.

Once you’re clear on that and you’re comfortable with the pets your residents are bringing, make sure it is in the lease. Simply putting “dogs allowed” is too vague. Be explicit in each tenant’s specific lease agreement and say something like, “one medium-sized dog (you can even include the dog’s name) is permitted to live at the property.” That way if the tenant were to get another dog, it’s not automatically permitted per the signed lease agreement.

Whatever you decide for your pet policy, make sure it’s explicitly spelled out in the lease terms. These and other decisions, such as charging pet rent versus a pet deposit, are important things that you as a property owner in Ohio will have to consider. We can help you wade through everything you need to know about owning real estate in Franklin County.

Contact us today at RL Property Management to learn more about investing in Ohio real estate.