Why Say Yes To A Pet?

by Claire Wilson on Thu Mar 2022
Why Say Yes To A Pet?

Ticking the ‘YES to pets’ box when advertising your rental property means you could well be increasing your chances of finding the perfect tenant.

You may be surprised to learn that 64% of Kiwi households have pets, a rate second only to the United States, where it is a whopping 67%. Prior to the onset of the pandemic, roughly every third household owned a dog (that was before people started adopting Covid pups!) In fact, according to a Stuff article from November 2020, New Zealand is home to more than 4.35 million pets, just shy of its 5 million human population. Pets have almost taken over!

So, saying no to pets could potentially rule out 64% of prospective tenants and when you’re trying to find the very best ones, this could cause a problem.

Our version of a good tenant is someone who looks after your property, pays the rent on time and doesn’t annoy the neighbours. For us, these things are top priority and sometimes the person who ticks all these boxes owns a pet – which is why we always encourage owners to be negotiable when it comes to pets.

First impressions count for a lot when you meet a potential tenant and we often find choosing whether or not you will allow a pet depends more on the pet owner than the actual pet. Your gut instinct must be relied upon! It’s also important to note, that some kids can cause more damage than pets – if you’ve ever owned a toddler you’ll know what we mean.

Obviously if you are renting out a small apartment with a tiny courtyard, then a Rottweiler probably isn’t a good choice, but a small toy dog or a cat might be OK. You also need to consider that a Property Manager will need to carry out inspections on the property once every three months and if the owner isn’t home, how happy will the pet be having an unknown visitor? We all know cats couldn’t care less about human visitors, however dogs are a different story. Often tenants will take the dog away for the day, be home or chain it up.

In early March there were 641 properties listed for rent in Christchurch on Trademe. Of those, only 144 had ticked OK for pets – that’s only 22% of properties.

Unfortunately the issue of tenants being allowed pets was left out of the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2020 simply because it caused so much debate and more time was needed to come up with a solution.

What about bonds and damage?

In New Zealand you cannot take a pet bond - four weeks total bond is the maximum amount you can ask for. However, if you have a pet living in your property you can look at increasing the rent. Even an additional $10/pw will give the owner $520/year of undisputed money towards any damage in which the tenant won’t take responsibility for. The four weeks bond can always be disputed at the Tenancy Tribunal, so there’s always a risk the owner may lose on a pet damage claim.

We rarely have any problems with pets causing damage due our stringent tenant selection process. While we believe it should always be the owners choice, we do encourage owners to be open to the concept. Experience has shown us that by being open to pets, you attract a wider tenant pool and have greater choice when it comes to finding the perfect tenant. After all, if the Queen wanted to rent your property with two of her Corgis, would you say no?

Claire Wilson

Claire Wilson

An active investor with her husband Hamish, Claire loves to inspire & inform others, all whilst juggling three little boys and living her mantra to eat well and travel lots.