Landlord tips: How to handle tenants with pets

If you are a landlord renting out property to tenants, it is important to lay out specific criteria in your lease agreement that should be met by any tenant. One common example involves whether or not to allow pets. Of course, allowing tenants to have pets opens up your property to many more potential applicants and typically will result in renting out the unit even faster. Furthermore, since the beginning of the pandemic we have seen a record number of pet adoptions as more Americans have stayed home and desired a companion. Assuming you allow a tenant to have pets, we discuss a few considerations to keep in mind below.

Set rules and follow them

As mentioned above, you will want to be as thorough as possible in your lease agreement when describing what is allowed for pets. For starters, if your property belongs to a homeowner’s association, you will need to confirm whether pets are allowed. In addition, you will also want to find out if there are size or breed limits for the pets allowed. If there are no restrictions from your local community, then it will be entirely up to you to decide.

When deciding on what to allow in your property, keep in mind the features of the property. For example, if the house has a large backyard that is conducive to having dogs you may accept larger or even a higher number of pets. On the flip side, if the home is small or does not have a yard, it may make more sense to set size and number limits for pets.


Another factor to consider when accepting pets is liability. For example, if a tenant’s dog bites a visitor at the property could you as the landlord be liable? Generally speaking, the landlord would not be liable if their tenant’s dog bites or injures a visitor at the property. However, there are exceptions to the rule. Some of these exceptions are as follows:

  • You are aware of a dangerous animal and do not have it removed from the property.
  • You are aware that your tenant is violating their lease agreement with an illegal animal and do not stop it. (example: you are aware that your tenant has dog that is either a prohibited breed or exceeds the maximum size limit)
  • You help take care of the dog such as taking it on walks from time to time and later this animal bites or injures someone.


Accepting pets at your rental property can truly differentiate your property from others listed on the market. This can ultimately result in fewer vacancies and less lost revenues. However, it is always important to consider various factors. Most importantly, it is critical that you draft very clear and specific lease agreements for your properties.

Like tenants, you should also screen for pets. By obtaining the breed of animals along with their sizes, you should be better able to make informed decisions on whether or not to approve a pet. In some cases, insurance policies will specifically prohibit certain breeds of animals to reside on the premises. A common example of this would be pitbulls. Furthermore, it is wise to require that your tenants get renters insurance that includes liability protection. In closing, it is critical that landlords enforce all the terms of their lease agreement. Letting your tenant slide on the agreed rules can cause you to be held liable if something goes wrong.

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REALTOR® with Live South Florida Realty, Inc.