Landlord’s Guide to Allowing Pets at Your Palm Desert Investment Property

Landlord’s Guide to Allowing Pets at Your Palm Desert Investment Property - Article Banner

Tenants have a lot of legal rights and protections when it comes to rental homes in Palm Desert. 

Pets do not have those rights, and you can decide whether or not you want to allow pets into your rental property. There are some pretty compelling arguments in favor of being pet-friendly, and some very understandable reasons for why you wouldn’t allow pets at all.

We work with a number of Palm Desert rental property owners who recognize the value of allowing pets. It’s easier and faster to place tenants because a majority of the renters in your tenant pool have at least one pet. 

However, there are always concerns about property damage caused by pets and the liability that comes with having a dog on your property, especially a dog that happens to be a biting breed. Some owners choose to keep their homes pet-free. 

That’s fine. 

Unless it’s not a pet and is, instead, a service animal. Service animals do have rights. Rather, their owners have rights. 

Most Palm Desert rental property owners understand the basics of fair housing laws. However, things can get more complicated when we talk about service animals and how they are different from pets. 

Learn Your Fair Housing Laws

It’s important that you’re aware of and compliant with fair housing and discrimination laws. Otherwise, you could find yourself making a serious mistake when it comes to service animals. You’d probably never intentionally discriminate against a tenant with disabilities, but treating a service animal like a pet can lead to some expensive problems. Making a mistake is easy, and those mistakes that violate the Fair Housing Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act can be expensive. 

Fines are typically around $16,000 for a first offense. 

Our experience leasing Palm Desert rental properties has given us a lot of insight into how to protect your property from potential pet damage and how to navigate the laws and protections that require you to allow service and companion animals. 

Any basic overview on what you need to know when it comes to pets and service animals will begin with the federal laws. 

When we’re talking about pets, it’s easy enough to allow them or disallow them. Putting together a pet policy is critical. 

When it comes to service animals, you need to know what you’re doing. If there’s any doubt at all, contact a Palm Desert property management company before you address a tenant’s request for a service animal. 

We stay up to date on the latest laws surrounding this topic, and we can provide some advice and resources that will protect you and your property.

Pets in Palm Desert Rental Homes

When it comes to dealing with pets as a landlord, it’s fairly easy. You can allow them or not allow them. 

As we said earlier, there are no laws in California or in the federal statutes that protect tenants who want to move in with their pet dog or cat or saltwater fish. As property managers, we understand why owners might hesitate to allow pets, but we always encourage you to at least consider them on a case-by-case basis. Here’s why:

  • You can reduce your vacancy times. A pet-friendly home typically rents faster. 
  • Your tenants will usually stay in place for longer, reducing turnover costs.
  • You can earn more on your property by charging pet fees and pet rent. Each pet fee and pet rent is per-pet, so if a tenant moves in with two pets, you’re earning even more money.

Any risk that comes with allowing pets can usually be mitigated with the collection of that pet fee as well as your security deposit. Only rarely have we seen pets do so much damage that it’s expensive to repair.  

You can also put together a pet policy that protects your property. Some of the inclusions in that pet policy should be:

  • Adequate pet screening. Ask for information from the animal’s vet.
  • Proof of vaccinations and flea/tick treatments.
  • Restrictions on age, size, and number of pets. 
  • Breed restrictions. You don’t want biting dogs like Pit Bulls or Rottweilers because your insurance company may not cover them.

Your pet policy can be enforced with inspections, documentation, and a good tenant relationship.

Service Animals in Palm Desert Rental Homes 

While you get to decide whether or not to allow pets, you don’t have that flexibility with service animals. If a tenant needs a service animal, you have to allow them. Even if you have a strict no-pet policy for your rental home. 

Service animals are always dogs. They are used by tenants with a physical or intellectual disability. Typically, these disabilities are easy to detect, and you won’t need to ask what the service animal is for. No landlord should ever ask a tenant with a visual impairment why they need a Seeing Eye Dog. 

Service animals are certified to provide particular services, and they’re also trained. Sometimes, they wear something identifying what they do. 

When a tenant has a service animal, you cannot charge pet fees or pet rent. You cannot evict a tenant because of their service animal. The law sees these animals as accommodations, not as pets. 

Palm Desert Tenant Responsibilities 

Pet Fee

When you allow a tenant to move in with a pet, you can require a pet fee or a pet deposit, and you can also charge a pet rent every month. Most tenants will be willing to pay a bit more for the privilege of moving in with their furry family members. You should screen the pet and require pictures and vet records so you know the animal is safe and healthy. 

With a service animal, you cannot ask for extra pet rent, a pet deposit, or a pet fee, but you can and should still collect a security deposit. Use that deposit at the end of the lease term if there is any damage from the service animal. 

The tenant is still required to clean up after the animal and ensure it isn’t a nuisance to other tenants or the property, even if it’s a service animal.

Would you like to talk more about all of this and how it pertains to your Palm Desert rental property? Contact us at Xepco Properties.