Tag: Fair Housing

Application Process: Pets

As a landlord, you have no doubt by now heard some serious horror stories. At the heart of every issue is a problem tenant – something you’re hoping to avoid by creating a thorough and fair screening process. A question you should ask every tenant is “Do you have any pets?”

A question you should ask yourself is: Do you accept pets?

Accepting pets in your rental property can be advantageous in an increasingly pet-friendly market. Understandably, though, you might be hesitant to. Those afore-mentioned horror stories? Many of them include issues revolving around animals being kept in the property.

Whether or not you want or should accept pets in your property is completely a matter of choice and preference. As with everything else in property management, it’s a risk/reward situation. 

Let’s briefly examine those:

Why You May Not Want to Allow Pets:

  • Risk of Physical Damage to Property
  • Liability of Pet-Related Injury
  • Cost of Cleaning / Pest Treatment
  • Disturbance to Neighbors

Why You May Want to Allow Pets:

  • Increases Applicant Pool
  • Reduces Pets Being Snuck Onto Property (for free)
  • Charge More in Rent
  • Longer Tenancy (due to unavailability of other pet-friendly residences)

In a time when pets are increasingly considered part of the family rather than property, you will face the question of “Do you accept pets?” more and more. Here are steps you can take to address the concerns of pets in your property, and how to consider handling pets in the application process.

What You Can Do:

1.       Be Clear in the Listing & Lease

If pets are not allowed, ensure that this is stated clearly in the listing. If the property is listed on multiple platforms, make sure that every posting states that the property is NOT pet-friendly. This will be an automatic deal-breaker for anyone who has pets, and will save you and the prospective tenant both time and frustration over the application process. 

The lease should also clearly state that pets are not allowed on the property at any time, and specific penalties should be noted. This will help support your claims in court, should it come down to collecting money for charges related to animals being present in the home. 

And yes, even though you have made it clear that the property is NOT pet-friendly, still put the question on the application. This makes certain that the tenant clearly states in writing that they do NOT have a pet.


2.       Know Your Target Demographic

Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025. Having been hit hard by recessions, millennials are unable and unwilling to take on more debt in the form of a mortgage, and so is a demographic of majority renters. Nearly three out of every four millennials have a pet – and they will look elsewhere if their pets aren’t welcome. That’s quite a big swath of future business! 

Your target demographic may not lean millennial – for now. Make the best decision that fits the needs of your market and the tendencies that cater to those renters. They are your livelihood, and what the market demands will determine how profitable your business will be.

3.       Establish a Restricted Breeds List

Bad dogs come from bad dog owners, but an unfortunate human tendency of bad ownership has resulted in some breeds being restricted in residential properties – even neighborhoods and counties!  If you decide to have a pet-friendly property, you will want to check your insurance policy to find out what type of coverage you have. Make sure you know the amount of liability coverage your policy includes. Your insurance company may have limitations or exclusions to this coverage – such as a list of dog breeds they consider to be “dangerous breeds,” which will not be covered under the policy.

4.       Charge Pet Rent

Pets can (and arguably, should) be considered occupants of a home. A nominal monthly fee can be charged as “pet rent”. This reflects the higher demand of pet-friendly rental properties without penalizing someone who doesn’t have a pet. In this way, you cater to both types of tenants without having to exclude pet owners altogether.

5.       Charge a Pet Deposit

This one-time charge differs from pet rent in the same way that a security deposit is not monthly rent. This charge goes directly to covering the cost of inevitable cleaning and flea treatment of the property. Extra care (with extra associated costs) must go into deeply cleaning a pet-friendly residence at move-out, which responsible and reasonable pet owners will understand. While a pet-owner may be nose-blind to their animals, a sensitive nose or someone with allergies can detect even the faintest presence of odor or dander.

6.       Establish a Pet Application

 A pet application, like any other tenant application, can be used to screen & assess the liability of an individual pet according to age, breed and size and will guide the determination of pet rent costs. There are third-party companies that can provide this assessment (for their own separate application fee) which keeps the pet assessment a step removed from any internal bias.

7.       Conduct Yearly Inspections

As property owner and manager, you must conduct annual inspections. With tenants who have pets, it is especially important that you be on the lookout for signs of undue wear and tear on your property as a result of the tenant’s neglect on their pet’s behalf. Destructive behavior can quickly devalue a home and increase the cost of repair exponentially. If you have a residence that is NOT pet-friendly, be aware of signs that your tenants have been keeping a pet a secret, or have acquired a pet without thinking to add them to the lease. For liability’s sake, you need to have paperwork that properly reflects all occupants of the home at all times. Your inspection is a great time to address any concerns regarding the care of your property and the suspected presence of any unauthorized animals. 

8.       Understand the Difference Between a Pet and a Service Animal

Not every animal is a pet. Fair Housing covers the use of certified companion and service animals and it’s important that you understand the difference. A no-pet policy does not apply to service animals, as they are considered to be tenants and not pets. The pet application must still be conducted to determine the animal’s credentials as being certified as a service animal – and not just claimed as one. An “unofficial” service animal is still considered a pet. A true service animal will have the veterinary paperwork to support any claims made.

Property Managers have a history of dealing with a wide spectrum of pets and pet owners, their neighbors, and the fences in between. The legalities surrounding pets as family members and service animals are shifting, and at Frontline Property Management, Inc. we are determined to keep in step with the times and remain informed. 

Contact us today to learn more about how Frontline Property Management can help you manage your property with ease and find your next tenants – four-legged or not!

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4 Tips to Advertise Your Rental Property

1) 1. Spruce Up the Property

As we’ve mentioned, a home can sell itself from the sidewalk. Make that precious first impression count by investing not only in the habitability of the home, but also in its presentation. A trimmed lawn, clean windows and fresh paint can make all the difference to a potential renter!

2) Register with Third-Party Real Estate Advertising Sites

Advertising in any business is traditionally a mix of both legwork and market research. In acquiring a tenant for your rental property, it can be more of both! Your “product” isn’t simply an item; it’s a home, a lifestyle, a cornerstone of your future tenant’s life. You will need to know the nuts and bolts of the market statistics for the neighborhood of your rental property in order to set a fair market price. On top of that, you need to know where to go to find your customers! While visibility is important and you will still get leads from prospects who have driven by the rental and have seen your contact information there (see tip #1!), every market advertising is shifting online. Your online presence must be as consistent and as reputable as you are in person. There are many websites, and new ones every year, that will compete to advertise your listing. By partnering with a trusted and well-known third-party advertiser, you gain the edge of being where prospects are looking without having to attend events, put up billboards, or take out ads in the paper. (Which are all viable options, but are becoming rapidly outdated.)

3) Take Great Photos

The downside to online listings can be that the photos don’t show the house in its best light. And why not? You control the photo-taking! Open the blinds! Let the light shine in! A property doesn’t have to be staged to be welcoming, but your photos should definitely highlight the rental’s best features. If you don’t have a steady hand, can’t work the angles, or just can’t capture a quality photo with your cell phone – look into hiring a property photographer. A professional has the skills and the equipment to bring to film exactly what you see in reality – which makes for great advertising! You are trying to get a prospect off of the couch and into the property. Sub-par pictures aren’t going to do that!

4) Follow Fair Housing Regulations

When writing up your own ad spots, you may think that the language you’re using is innocuous. There are, however, guidelines set by Fair Housing that will help you advertise your rental in an inclusive, legal manner. Remember – you’re not writing the advertisement for you. You’re writing to any potential tenant. By saying, for example, “Perfect for a young couple with children”, you invite an idea of discrimination against older, childless, single adults.

Advertising your rental property differs from the advertisement of other “products” in that you set no expectation of who your customer will be. There is no “key demographic”. The only expectations set are on your property itself.

If all of this sounds like a lot of time-consuming work, it’s because it is! There’s a reason advertisers bolster entire industries – and it can bolster yours, too.

A property management company like Frontline Property Management, Inc. has years of experience in advertising for new tenants. Our Property Managers are well-versed in online advertising, have connections with third-party advertisers, and (importantly!) are able to quickly identify and shut down scams in their tracks. Cut down your vacancy time by partnering with a Frontline Property Manager today!

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What You Need to Know About Fair Housing

Fair Housing isn’t just an attitude; it’s the law.  The Fair Housing Act (FHA) (42 U.S. Code § § 3601-3619 and 3631) applies in all 50 states and every US territory. These regulations exist to protect tenants, potential tenants and prospective homebuyers of all walks of life from predatory, discriminatory, and exclusionary housing practices.

As a landlord, you’ll be doing everything to attract new tenants from posting advertising and showing your property, to finally entering into a lease agreement with your tenant. How you complete every step along the way is the deciding factor between ending up with a new tenant – or ending up with a lawsuit for Fair Housing violations.

The question you have to ask yourself is: What do you know about Fair Housing?

First and foremost, know whether these regulations apply to you. Not all types of housing are included in the FHA. The following are exclusions:

  • Owner-occupied buildings with four or fewer units. The FHA generally isn’t applicable when a building has two to four units, and the owner lives in one of them.
  • Single-family homes rented without a broker. The FHA doesn’t apply when a single-family house is sold or rented without a broker, so long as the owner doesn’t own more than three houses.
  • Religious organizations. If you’re a religious organization leasing apartments at a property that you’re not operating for a commercial purpose, you may legally limit occupancy or give preferences to people of your organization’s religion. However, the FHA points out that this exception is strictly limited to religion and cautions that a religious organization still can’t discriminate based on race, color, or national origin (42 U.S. Code § 3607(a)).
  • Private clubs. If you’re leasing apartments on behalf of a private club and not for a commercial purpose, the FHA lets you limit occupancy to your club’s members.
  • Senior housing.  Although the FHA bans discrimination against families with children, you may be exempt from this ban if your property qualifies as senior housing. Exempt properties include those that fit the rules of 55 and older or 62 and older communities, or those that participate in a federal, state or local senior housing program.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that there are state and local fair housing laws that can be more restrictive than described above. Be sure to study up! Not knowing the law is not an excuse for breaking it. You may think that posting an apartment as “perfect for a young couple with no kids” is harmless – but by excluding every other kind of person outside of that narrow description, it’s a classic case of discrimination under the FHA.

Most likely, your property will not be exempt from the FHA. It is essential that you are familiar with the illegality of discrimination based on these seven protected classes:




  National Origin



  Familial Status

Of course, there is great benefit to not being discriminatory, both personal and professional. You are looking to find a quality tenant, which has nothing to do with familial status, age, gender or disability. By using a standardized and inclusive application process, you will better your chances of finding that tenant while at the same time bolstering the reputation of yourself and your business. It is wise to stay up to date with your local anti-discrimination laws, and to delve deeply into the Fair Housing Act.

How Can You Protect Yourself as a Landlord?

A perfect way to make sure that your housing practices are legal, standardized and up to date is to hire a property management company. Frontline Property Management, Inc has a full staff of members who have completed the NARPM (National Association of Residential Property Management) Fair Housing certification. From the front desk to the CEO, Frontline is prepared to help you avoid the liabilities and ensure that your business is always handled in accordance with the ever-changing laws. Our team of tenant coordinators conduct FHA-approved screening of your applicants, and our qualified Property Managers ensure that your listings are available to all applicants. Every step is protected, down to the bottom line.

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