Home renting with a pet 101

·4 min read

Aug. 7—Dog and cat owners wanting to rent housing should check on policies about pets. Local rental agents say some properties don't allow pets and many others have breed and size restrictions, and there is always an added fee.

Julia Griffin, manager of Summer Lodge Apartment Homes in Decatur, said their apartments do allow a limited number of pets and even have a dog park. There is no dog weight limit, she said, but eight breeds are not allowed.

Some of the breeds are pit bulls, rottweilers, German shepherds, chow chows and boxers. Griffin said any mixed breed that is part any of the eight breeds is also prohibited.

"We get into this situation where if we get somebody that gets one from a pound and it says 'mutt' then it's kind of hard to challenge," she said.

There are also rules for pets while they're staying in the apartments. Griffin said pet owners are asked to put their pets in a kennel when apartment personnel have to enter. Also, dogs are required to be leashed while outside.

Dogs are allowed to be off leash when they are in the apartment's dog park. Griffin said it is fenced in with a gate. There is not a specific area that owners have to take their dogs to go to the bathroom.

"It states in the lease that they're supposed to clean up after their animal. ... Get it up and put it in the appropriate container and put it in the garbage," Griffin said.

Renters are allowed two pets but there is a pet fee of $300 non-refundable fee per pet. One reason for the pet fee is in case the renter moves out and their pet has caused damage.

"The pet fee is in addition to a security deposit," Griffin said. "If the damages exceed what the pet fee is ... then you would also be subject to lose your security deposit as well."

Adrienne Whisenant is a broker with Ace Management & Realty in Decatur, which is a property management company. She said some homeowners allow pets while others do not. Whisenant said some have weight limits, generally 40 pounds.

"Some do have breed restrictions. We use insurance companies' guidelines for aggressive breeds," she said.

Only one pet is allowed per unit, Whisenant said, and there is a $300 non-refundable pet fee. Ace has rules about renting one of its homes with a pet.

"They are supposed to clean up their feces and they can't leave dogs chained outside of their residence," Whisenant said. "If they are not doing those things, then regardless of the pet fee on file and the addendum, we always reserve the right to cancel that."

If there is pet damage after the renter moves out, Whisenant said, the pet fee and regular security deposit is taken into account. "If there's more, then we'll send the tenant a bill."

Hollie Haley, manager at Regency West Apartments in Decatur, said their $250 non-refundable pet fee will probably go up next year.

"The cost of our supplies and stuff have gone up so when we do have damages of course they are costing us more. So, we probably will raise that to $300 at the first of the year," she said.

There is a weight restriction for pets.

"Pets no larger than 25 pounds at full growth unless it's a certified service animal," Haley said.

Haley said they have not had many problems with pets causing damage. If there were extensive damage, she said, the repair cost would determine if they would try to make the tenant or former tenant pay for it.

"Right now, the worst thing we deal with is maybe some scratching at the front door on some trim or something," Haley said. "Which is why we really try to stay away from larger animals."

Haley said dogs must be leashed, have a designated area for using the bathroom, and must be up to date on all their vaccinations.

Although some housing owners have restrictions for pets, some do not allow any pets.

Lonnie Weaver, a broker at Decatur's Weaver Realty and Auction, which also manages rental property, said they generally have a no pets policy, but the home or apartment owner makes the decision. Usually, the only pets allowed are service animals.

Weaver said it has been the experience of most of their property owners "that it does more damage than we want to have. It costs us money, so one of our owners has chosen to have a no pet policy."

Linda Turner owns Turner Properties and allowed pets at her town homes and apartments in Southwest Decatur at one time. She now has a no pet policy due to damage issues caused by pets.

"We have remodeled lots of our apartments, and we don't allow pets because of the potential damage they can do," Turner said.

—erica.smith@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2460.