Pet damage cover the answer to landlord woes?

Pet damage cover the answer to landlord woes?

by Sharon Fox-Slater 4 comments
Pet damage cover the answer to landlord woes?

Pets – Aussies love them. The RSPCA estimates that 63 per cent of households have a furry, feathered or scaly family member. But how difficult is it to rent a home when you own a pet?

Chances are many of your landlord clients have them too. But when it comes to allowing pets into their investment properties, a lot of landlords say ‘no’, citing odours, noise and damage as reasons to reject the non-human tenant.

The result? A shortage of pet friendly rentals.

The upside? A whole pool, that savvy landlords can tap into, of potential tenants looking for a place to call home with their fur babies.

As a PM, you are responsible for ensuring the property is maintained to the agreed standard and the addition of animals might require more checks for you, but there are many reasons why the extra effort might be worth it.

By allowing pets in the property, the potential tenant pool immediately increases and makes the home more in-demand, with the flow-on effect of short vacancy periods and tenants who stay longer.

People with pets understand that securing a rental is more difficult and they are often willing to comply with a few extra conditions or even pay more to share their home with their animal companions.

If your landlord is thinking about going pet friendly, help protect their investment by adding clauses to the rental agreement such as:

• A specific pet agreement that details how the renter and their pets will respect the property, what to do if there is a problem with the pets and what will happen if the pets damage the property;

• The requirement for professional cleaning after the renter and pet vacate the premises;

• References from previous landlords and/or personal references that indicate the tenant is a responsible pet owner;

• Proof the renter maintains the pet’s medical care, for example de-sexing certificates, vaccinations and council registration;

• Presentation of a pet CV, which includes breed and breed traits, weight, height, age, care habits, behavioural traits, training background and the vet’s contact details; and

• The addition of a pet bond to cover any potential damage or clean-up costs (if this is permitted in your State) or additional maintenance fees.

Many landlords have a not entirely unjustified fear that allowing pets will leave them paying to repair damage at their rental. It’s a fear that is compounded by the fact that most landlord insurers do not cover pet damage.

At RentCover, we’ve updated our policies to now automatically provide policyholders with up to $65,000 to cover pet damage in all new policies issued from 1 February and in all renewals from 1 April. And unlike other insurers, we do not need the pet to be named on the lease, it just needs to be owned by the tenant.

The only other requirement we have is that the landlord/PM inspects the property within six months of the initial lease and at least annually thereafter. Far from onerous conditions for cover, that could make the decision to go pet friendly an easier one.

Pet damage cover the answer to landlord woes?
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Sharon Fox-Slater is the executive general manager of RentCover, a division of EBM, which insures 120,000 investment properties around Australia. With 20 years’ experience in landlord insurance, Sharon’s top priority is customer service and positive customer comments are her biggest marker of success. Despite leaving school at 15, Sharon has forged a ground-breaking career – she was the first woman to become a fellow of the National Insurance Brokers Association. Sharon was recently honoured to have been included in Insurance Business magazine’s Elite Brokers 2013 list.

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