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3 ways landlords can protect their property from pet damage
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3 ways landlords can protect their property from pet damage

On Behalf of | May 13, 2024 | Landlord/Tenant Law |

Pets or companion animals are often a point of contention between those who rent the homes where they live and those who own property that they rent to others. People want to have pets, or they may have grown emotionally attached to the pets that they already have. Landlords may enjoy pets themselves while also recognizing that animals can very easily damage their properties.

Chewing, scratching and urinating inside a rental home are all potential sources of property damage. Pets can cause physical damage to the facilities and also make the interior spaces unpleasant for future occupants with odors and allergens that are hard to remove.

How can landlords potentially protect themselves against the damage that companion animals could cause?

By prohibiting pets

Many landlords successfully avoid the frustration and expensive pet damage by simply prohibiting companion animals at their properties. By preventing tenants from moving in with dogs, cats, rabbits, birds or any other pets, landlords can avoid the damage those animals might cause. The risk with this approach is that a landlord may significantly limit their pool of potential tenants and that tenants might try to hide the presence of an animal despite the rules.

By requiring a pet deposit and extra rent

Given that pets pose a risk of property damage and that they can cause additional wear on facilities, landlords often increase the fees that they charge their tenants to reflect the risk related to allowing animals. Requiring a one-time pet deposit in case of damages is common. Landlords may also sometimes assess an additional monthly fee for the pet. That can help offset the expense generated by the presence of a pet in a unit.

By documenting property conditions carefully

In theory, landlords can retain some or all of a pet deposit and security deposit if someone’s animal damages a rental unit. In practice, a landlord needs to be able to prove that damage occurred. Having thorough documentation of the condition of the unit before the tenant takes possession and having them also perform an inventory noting the condition of the property can be crucial for a landlord’s protection. Provided that they can show that the pet damaged the floors, scratched up the walls or caused other damage, they can then retain an appropriate amount of the deposit paid by the tenant to cover the cost of repairs.

Landlords who are proactive about addressing property damage risk factors can protect the investment that they have made in residential property and minimize conflicts with tenants. Establishing clear rules about pets can be beneficial for landlords offering residential space for rent in New York.