When I wrote the post “Should We Allow Pets in our Rental Property“, I explained that we own a small 8-unit apartment complex and we have never allowed tenants to have pets. I asked for help from readers to see if we were just biased against pets or if we had blindspots that we had not considered. Our goal was to make a smart decision that met our needs and the needs of potential tenants.
The feedback you provided was outstanding! It verified many of the concerns we had and there was support for continuing our policy of not allowing pets. But there were a few of you who also made a good case for focusing more on the quality of the tenant, rather than worrying so much about pets. And that made a lot of sense to us too.
We were very interested in your feedback because we knew we had two openings for the upcoming month– and if we were going to change our thoughts about pets, this would be a good opportunity to do it. And it ended up that we had another tenant move out this month as well (because of a medical situation), so we ended up looking for three new tenants, rather than two!
After posting an ad, we had numerous people contact us to see the apartments. Many people who respond to ads don’t read the criteria carefully (credit check, reference check, etc.) and when I email them to verify our criteria they don’t respond back.
But after about two weeks, we had enough interest to start showing the apartments and collecting applications. We quickly had people very interested in renting from us. We’ll describe them as Potential Tenants (PT) and we’ll number them to help keep the stories straight!
PT #1 – Good communicator, loved the apartment, and after reviewing her application, she met us with a deposit and signed the lease! She’s saving $25/month and getting an apartment in a nicer area! She stayed in one apartment over 10 years – so we are hoping this is a long-term situation. And the tenant has no pets! Now that was easy! One down, two to go…
PT #2 – Seemed very nice in communications, but she also explained that she had a cat. Our original ad specified no pets, but she had met the other criteria and asked if she could still see the apartment. When we met with her and talked, she explained that she could give us references for the cat from a previous landlord and she could also provide all vet records. She seemed like she would be an excellent tenant and after reviewing references, we offered her an apartment. Two down, one to go!
When we called PT #2 to set up a time to sign the lease and collect the security deposit (and pet deposit), we didn’t hear back from her for 3 days. And by the 3rd day, we gave up and showed the unit to PT #3. They also wanted the apartment! We verified their application and offered the unit to PT #3 later that night. Of course PT #2 contacted us the next morning and was ready to sign the lease…
Now you might think, well great! Now take PT #2 and you are all set! But when we explained that we had rented the unit she wanted to someone else because she hadn’t contacted us, she said she would have to think about the third unit we had. She had wanted an upper unit we are currently renovating and the last unit available would be a 1st floor unit. We also had told her that we were continuing to show the unit and that someone else may be selected. And surprise – she didn’t call us back right away even though we were willing to allow her cat!
In the meantime, we showed the unit to PT#4 who also wanted the unit! After verifying her information and checking with references, we called to set up a time to meet to sign the lease and get a security deposit. And about an hour before we were supposed to meet – PT #4 calls and says,” I really want the apartment but I don’t have the money.” Well, guess what – we’d really like the money…
On to PT#5! You guessed it, PT #5 wants the apartment too! It will be perfect! But this PT just signed a one-year lease in a different complex – but she needs to be in the school district our complex is in. PT #5 is willing to lose 2 month’s rent and a security deposit to get in the school district and definitely wants our apartment. I call the landlord and references and everything checks out. So we call to offer PT #5 the apartment and set up a time to meet and…you guessed it, NO CALL BACK.
We then decided that we weren’t going to wait more than 24 hours for a response from anyone. We called PT #6 and showed the apartment again.
And PT #6 has a DOG.
PT #6 was a great communicator and asked about the dog in the first email he sent. He even said he understood if we wouldn’t accept pets and that if we made an exception, he would expect to pay an extra deposit and likely a higher rent. Yep – he had our attention! He clearly understood that many landlords don’t accept pets and that having a pet required more work and money on his part.
After agreeing to show the apartment to PT #6, he arrived a few minutes early with the application filled out. He toured the unit and said that he would be interested in renting. We told him that we would need to talk more about the dog (as we have never allowed them in the past) and he said he understood. We checked his references and agreed to offer PT #6 an apartment. So we might have our first dog! (OK – we had a tenant sneak in a dog a few years ago – so our first “legal” dog!)
But of course, until we have the security deposit in hand with the lease signed – we know it might fall through! PT #6 called us to set up a time to meet. He showed up with a bank check in hand and read the lease carefully. He asked about the utilities to call and about getting renter’s insurance as well. Finally – lease signed, deposit in hand – and we’ve rented to a tenant with a dog.
So we think we have found three great tenants and we really did our best to consider folks with pets. We almost had a cat – but we are fairly sure that based on the communication issues, we would have had more problems down the line.
For those of you who rent – just keep in mind that communication was a key factor with each of the tenants that we chose to rent to (along with verifying all of their information!) Also, don’t bother to look at apartments if you don’t have a security deposit.
We are excited that we were able to find tenants who could move in next month! But we would have considered leaving units empty for a month just to get the right tenants. We have a 98% occupancy rate this year for our ten rental units, so this will help us continue to maximize our profits. It also gets more challenging to rent units as winter approaches, so it is nice to have year-long leases that end next summer.
We have let the other tenants know about the dog and asked them to let us know right away if there are any concerns. We also told them that this was an experiment and if they were interested in pursuing a pet, to talk with us because this is not a “policy”. We also reminded them that they would need to pay a full month extra deposit as well if they were thinking about getting a pet.
Thanks again for all of your feedback and we will keep you updated on how it goes! If you have any other questions or comments, we’d love to hear them! Fingers are crossed for a quiet fall with some great new tenants!
Photo Credit: DanistSoh@freeimages.com