How to Develop and Enforce Community Pet Policies

A happy couple playing with a dog in their apartment.

From barking all night long to having “accidents” in common areas, pets can cause more than their share of headaches for community managers. But a few sensible, well-enforced policies can make your life a lot easier.

Key takeaways

  • Community managers often develop pet policies
  • The specific rules will vary by property and neighborhood
  • Consistently enforcing the policy is essential
  • Even well-behaved pets can create additional work

People love their pets, so it should come as no surprise that many residents prefer a community that welcomes their furry friends. Unfortunately, allowing pets within an apartment or condo complex can create significant problems for community managers and property owners alike, so instituting a firm and fair pet policy is essential.

Your pet policies should focus on reducing the issues you’ll encounter when allowing animals in your units. They might outline penalties pet owners could face for noncompliance and restrict the animals renters can bring into the buildings. The goal is to create clear guidelines for all residents to follow and enforce them fairly.

No pet policy is perfect, but the following tips can point you in the right direction as you devise rules that meet your community’s needs. 

Should you allow pets or not?

Before creating a pet policy, consider whether or not you really want to allow pets on the property you manage in the first place. There are plenty of pros and cons to permitting pets, all of which are worth exploring.

On the one hand, allowing animals to live in your building can create a host of issues. For example, pets can damage individual units and common areas, costing you time and money in cleanup and repairs. Noise is another drawback to having animals in the building, as is the smell. And, let’s face it, if you’re going to allow pets, that’s one more set of rules you have to spend time enforcing. So a “no pets allowed” policy may simply make your life easier.

On the other hand, pets can help you attract new residents. People who struggle to find places that allow animals will jump at the chance to rent from you. Plus, they’ll be more likely to become long-term residents, since finding another place that allows pets won’t be easy. And they might be willing to pay a monthly premium for the privilege of keeping an animal in the building. So allowing pets can help expand your business and create additional revenue streams.

As you consider the pros and cons of allowing pets on the property, you’ll want to get input from current residents, as well. Many of them may welcome the chance to get pets of their own, but if the majority don’t approve, that may be a good reason to leave things as they are.

Creating a pet policy

If you and the property owners do decide to allow animals in your community, you’ll need to develop rules for pet owners to follow. About 66% of American households include a pet, so these rules will apply to the majority of your tenants.

The first thing any good pet policy should include is language on the number of pets each resident is allowed to have. You don’t want renters moving in with too many animals, and local laws could restrict how many pets can live within a single home. 

You might also create rules that restrict certain types of pets. These restrictions could prohibit renters from having exotic pets or create other exclusions. If you don’t want people living in a small apartment with a large dog, for example, weight or breed restrictions would make sense. 

Language on cleaning up after pets is essential for any good policy. And you’ll also want to create rules for walking dogs on a leash, preventing pets from roaming freely, and keeping them quiet indoors.

Finally, your policy should include a pet deposit or other fees. This deposit would be in addition to the regular damage deposit, providing your property owners with additional protection from pet-related damage. You’ll want to keep the amount of the deposit reasonable while ensuring that it’s large enough to compel renters to keep their animals in check.

Of course, you can fine-tune your pet policies over the years to address any situations that arise, but it’s important to have a basic set of clear rules from the start. And make sure that all renters agree to this policy in writing before moving into a building you manage.

Enforcing the policy

Your pet policy will likely contain penalties for those who refuse to follow the rules. You’ll probably begin with written warnings and then escalate to fines and potential evictions for repeatedly ignoring these regulations. Regardless of the details, it’s important that you enforce the rules consistently. After all, you don’t want to be accused of favoritism, which could cause serious problems within the community.

Some community associations hire security to assist with pet policy enforcement. While this step is optional, it can help if your community is full of pets and you’re struggling to keep up with all of them.

Hiring vendors to help

Even if you don’t hire security to assist with your pet policy enforcement needs, permitting pets could force you to employ additional vendors to help with the increased workload. These service providers could handle any pet-related repairs and landscaping issues, for instance, freeing up your time for more important aspects of the job.

VendorSmart is a vendor management platform that can assist you in locating and vetting the ideal contractors and service providers to work within the communities you manage. We understand how much time effective community management requires and do our part to lighten your load. Contact VendorSmart today for more information on our vendor vetting services.