As a landlord, choosing to allow pets in a rental property can be a smart move, especially given that 72% of renters have pets. However, it is important to know about support animal laws and tenant laws.
Knowing the laws regarding pets and support animals can help safeguard you as a landlord. Of course, it is also essential to follow the laws about tenants' rights. Keep reading to find out more about Florida tenant laws and support animal laws in Florida, as well as the pros and cons of allowing pets.
Florida's Landlord-Tenant law does not contain any restrictions regarding pets. However, the landlord may choose to limit pets based on size and/or breed, although these restrictions may not apply to service animals.
Landlords are not allowed to discriminate against service animals, as you probably know. However, this also applies to support animals, also known as Emotional Service Animals, or ESAs. Owners of support animals must be given reasonable accommodations, and are generally allowed to live in typically rent-free spaces.
Landlords are also not permitted to charge any fees or pet rent for service and support animals. However, the animal's owner must present the proper paperwork, and the animal must still adhere to vaccination laws.
Support animals can be a difficult case because they help individuals with invisible illnesses such as depression, PTSD, anxiety, etc. However, beyond asking for the required documentation, landlords may not ask what the support animal's specific purpose is.
Pros to Allowing Pets in a Rental Property
There are multiple benefits to allowing your renters to have pets. For one, it significantly widens your pool of potential renters, given that pets are so common. You can also increase your profit by charging pet fees and pet rent.
Furthermore, people with pets tend to be responsible individuals who will be good renters. By allowing pets, you may be attracting more of the kind of people you want renting your property.
Additionally, the number of rental properties that allow pets is limited. Therefore, your tenants are more likely to renew their lease rather than go through the hassle of trying to find another pet-friendly rental. These long-term tenants can be beneficial to your investment as a whole.
Another benefit of allowing pets is that it decreases liabilities on your end. Many tenants choose to sneak their pets into their rental space, which could create a serious liability for you as the property owner if something were to happen.
Cons to Allowing Pets in a Rental Property
There are, however, a few downsides to allowing pets. For example, you will have to purchase animal liability insurance in case the animal were to harm one of the other tenants.
There could also be increased damages and cleaning fees due to pets. Animals can leave odors and stains behind which might be more expensive to get rid of when preparing for your next tenant.
Another possible issue is that allowing some tenants to have pets on the property may bother other tenants. It may cause them to have an allergic reaction, or they might be kept awake by barking or crying noises.
As you decide whether to allow pets in a rental property, it is important to keep in mind that you must also protect yourself as a property owner. You can do this by screening your tenants and their pets and by limiting the size or amount of pets allowed.
If you decide to allow pets, be sure to put these new policies in place beforehand. If you decide not to, remember that you'll still have to allow service and support animals. Either way, if you need support in property management, contact us today for help!