Whether you’re a landlord or a renter, pets are always a huge sticking point when it comes to renting out a property.

Some landlords allow cats and birds but no dogs, while others are open to pretty much everything.

If you find yourself in a situation with a renter having a destructive pet, it’s important you get a Pet Policy in place.

My rental is in the middle of an urban area so there aren’t a ton of people with pets so it’s never really been an issue for me.

But now that I’m a renter again, I get to see the other side of what it’s like to live with all these pets.  My apartment complex has a pretty flexible pet policy and I’ve seen everything from cats and dogs to parakeets roaming around the complex.  Some animals are louder than others and some are more of a nuisance than you would think.  So what’s the worst type of pet?

This is my personal list of worst pets from a landlord, owner and renter’s point of view all wrapped into one.

#5: Reptiles

Growing up, we actually owned a snake and it was relatively easy to take care of.  It made the room stink a little bit but once a week we’d drop a mouse in the cage and that would be that.  I think the only apprehension I have with reptiles is some of them are pretty dangerous and if they somehow get out of their cages you could have a big problem on your hands.

#4: Fish

I think most landlords would probably be OK renting to someone with a fish tank.  You might have to put a size limit on it though since if the tank broke you don’t want to have a massive flooding on your hands.  The nice thing about fish is that they keep to themselves and they don’t make any noise like some other pets do.

#3: Dog damage to rental property

As a renter, I would love to have a dog.  It’s nice coming home to see that happy face every day no matter what mood you’re in.  That’s probably why so many people live with dogs, they make for great companionship.  And while most dogs are well behaved and quiet, the 10% who aren’t can really ruin it for everyone.

Having lived in several different residences (houses, condos, apartments) over the past 10 years I’ve seen all sizes and manners of dogs and the only thing that really bothered me were the tiny dogs with high pitched barks.

#2: Cats

Let me preface this by saying I am not a cat person.  Even though they can be trained to use the bathroom in a small sandbox, I have never been a fan.  But that being said, many people do love their cats and the thought of living without them is torturous.

Cats are pretty quiet by pet standards so the number one issue that comes up with them is damage.  Felines tend to gnaw on things around the house, scratch walls and basically do all the little things to damage your property.  You could offset this by requiring a larger security deposit but cats definitely add a lot of wear and tear to your property.

#1: Birds

You might not think that birds would top the list of worst pets but I’ve never met a quiet bird.  They are constantly gawking and screeching and they are at their worst when the owners are not home.  So bird lovers might think their pets are well behaved when they’re around but the second they leave, these animals tend to make the most noise.

I think the bird-loving population is pretty small so you wouldn’t be losing many potential tenants by disallowing birds but you would be keeping it nice and quiet for everyone else.

FAQs on Pets and Rental Properties

Does no pets include caged animals?

Typically a no pets clause do include caged animals. This will be at the discretion of each landlord but in most cases, a landlord will have a zero pets policy across the board regardless of if the pet lives in a cage or not.

Are birds considered pets when renting?

Yes, most landlords will consider a bird a pet and charge a pet deposit if the bird is allowed. Birds can cause considerable damage if let out of the cage so the landlord will want to limit any damages and cover themselves with a pet deposit.

Do you have to pay a pet deposit for caged animals?

Unless the pet is considered an emotional support animal or a service animal you will most likely have to pay a pet deposit for a caged animal. The pet deposit is at the landlords discretion but most will charge a deposit and sometimes a monthly fee for your animal.

14 Comments

  1. Great information for those who are just getting into the landlord business. As with all pets, a larger deposit can be had by the landlord, but also we can get the tenant to add us to the insurance for the pet, so that we can file a claim for damage.

    Cats are by far the easiest pets to deal with. Cats keep to themselves and have done far less damage to our properties in the 8 years we have had them. Dogs seem to do the worst, but its all manageable. If the tenant is a better tenant with a dog, so be it, but there are some breeds of dogs, 10-11 in fact, that most insurers rate a higher risk. That pit bull may be the sweetest girl in your presence, but left alone with another dog, the pit has in its genes to clamp down….and not let go. Most dogs will bite and let go, not so with the Pit.

    Gerbils, snakes, reptiles, the only issue we see with them is when the owner gets bored with them and lets them out to play in the neighborhood. Then the reptile is a nuisance. Fish just require more insurance, especially if on an upper floor.

    Just find the right tenants and pets are an extension of the owner. Screen right, you should not have many issues. But always take pictures BEFORE pets, to get an idea of what the place was like, before any pet came to the property.

    • Good stuff Jack. You’re right on about the damage caused by the pets. It’s also important to think about how pets will affect your other tenants too since you don’t want to lose 2 good tenants because one of them has some loud annoying birds or constantly barking dogs.

      I’m a renter in addition to landlord right now and the birds in my complex are way worse than the dogs haha.

    • Jack, I think you summed it up perfectly with “find the right tenants and pets are an extension of the owner”. The pets are usually not the problem, but the people who are taking care of them and allow the problems are.

      Hope to see around our blog more often because your insights are great!

  2. I’ve had almost every kind of animal you can imagine. I don’t like most reptiles but I had a chameleon & an iguana. The worst offenders are cats IMO. Even females spray and it’s difficult getting that smell out, although there are better products today. I’ve also had cats ruin carpeting with their claws, although my son’s dogs have chewed up his carpet in a doorway between 2 rooms. He also had a dog that chewed the wood trim around windows and chewed a hole through a door when left alone in a room. My son came home and was greeted by the dog’s head through the hole! These are homes we own but they could be landlord problems.

    As far as noise, dogs & birds would be of concern. And of course dogs and biting can be a lawsuit waiting to happen. Dogs get out or owners lose control and watch out! I love animals but didn’t allow them when I had rental property.

    • My biggest pet peeve (no pun intended!), is when I go to cut my tenant’s lawn and they have their dog crap all over the yard.

      But overall, I agree with Harry about birds because out of any of the animals I’ve ever owned, I purposely had to get rid of my birds (parakeets) because of how messy they were and it was a pain to clean the cage. I can see this being neglected by a lot of tenants.

    • Judy, I love how you don’t like reptiles but had them anyway! True pet lovers don’t discriminate I guess lol.

      And it’s funny how most of the feedback I’ve seen from this article on social media confirms that while a lot of landlords are pet lovers, they don’t allow them in their rental units. Proof that it’s most often not the pet that’s a problem, but the people who take of them.

  3. I agree about the small dogs. In my experience, they tend to be the yappy ones. I get less complaints from neighbors when my tenants have large dogs. Although, I’m biased because I have an 85lb golden doodle. He doesn’t bark much, but when he does, it sounds like thunder.

  4. Stephen, I don’t like snakes at all. The chameleon was when I was young & the iguana was my boyfriends – we lived together. I’ve also had hamsters and guinea pigs with my daughter – stinky and a pain.

    I have a picture of the iguana sitting on the top ledge of the window with it’s tail hanging down and my cat sitting on the bottom ledge. She must have gotten hit with that tail once because she respected him!

    Now I have 2 small yappy dogs and I love them! But like I said before, I wouldn’t allow pets in a rental property, although I did let friends with a little chihuahua rent our townhouse in AZ for a couple months while they were looking for a permanent place. I sold their home here in IL & saw how well it was kept and I didn’t see any damage to my place. Guess it all depends, but with new tenants you don’t know.

  5. Among pet-friendly HOAs, apartments and rental homes there are too often nonsensical assumptions and rules.

    I come from a family of animal lovers. You name it, someone in my household had it: horse, dog, cat, guinea pig, fish, birds (finch to Amazon parrot), rabbit, reptiles, chickens and a cow! One of my immediate family members, in fact, grew up to become a veterinarian!

    If knowledge vs. assumption were to inform pet policies, this is how they might be be better served:

    1) Many pet-friendly communities are in fact cat-only communities. Cats don’t make a lot of noise but they can do a lot of damage with their claws, not just to furnishings but to carpet, door frames and cupboards — essentially anything within reach of a jump. They also tend to spray urine when frustrated or placed in competition with other territorial pets in the home. Cat urine is among the most difficult odors to remove. What’s more, cats are the single-most allergenic pet you can permit in a rental home. Cat urine, saliva and dander are leading causes of asthma and allergies — the single-most allergenic animal humans have domesticated. Those who permit cats should appreciate that it may be difficult, if not impossible, to rent such a home/unit out to anyone who has serious asthma/allergies thereafter. For the aforementioned reasons, it could be said that once you go cat you can never go back.

    2) Many dog-friendly communities limit themselves to dogs less than 25 lbs. In practice, this means a predominance of dog breeds that tend to be diminutive in size but big in personality. Small dogs have a lot to prove and may attempt to fill the shoes of a guard dog as much if not more than their medium/large size counterparts. Small dogs are particularly prone to separation anxiety, a condition that often involves incessant barking when left home alone. Just because a dog is small and seems better suited to a smaller living space doesn’t mean their energy levels are equally small. Singling out small dogs as lower maintenance pets is a big but all too common mistake. Similarly, there is no correlation between size and aggression. Rather than impose arbitrary weight and breed restrictions, your best bet as a landlord or property manager is to require obedience training and/or to schedule a new dog interview. It will become readily apparent if the dog in question is overly anxious and/or assumes a guarding behavior from the onset. If the dog is standoffish, insecure or prone to “greeting” a stranger with a bark or a growl, that dog — whether it’s 4lbs or 80+ — may be a poor fit.

    3) The main risk associated with small furry creatures are the sharp front teeth. However, most people don’t let their hamsters, mice, rabbits or guinea pigs run loose. More so than other pets, such animals tend to be contained in cages and play structures. The main concern here isn’t the animal but the animal owner. Like cats, small animal urine can create an unpleasant, lingering smell. Pellets or sawdust bedding should be changed no less than once per week. If your tenant is an experienced pet owner and does not have plans to let the animal run loose, there’s not much risk of any damage from such a pet. (Notably, however, landlords and property managers should appreciate that like cats and dogs rabbits can be housebroken.)

    4) Birds, like dogs, can’t be lumped into one category. There are big birds (McCaws, Amazons, African Grays) and there are small birds (parakeets, canaries, finches). Noise levels are often relative to body size. The occasional chatter of a parakeet will not reach the noise level of a small barking dog, nor will it approach that of a large parrot. Allowing a pet owner to keep birds in pairs may keep the house quieter than a single, lonely bird. Unlike dogs, which often bark at passersby even when no one is home, most birds will remain quiet when there is little activity in the household. Cockatiels, more so than other varieties of pet bird, tend to persist in their vocal efforts to seek out the attention of a favorite member of the household. If there is one thing most pet birds have in common, regardless of size, it is that they typically are most quiet when the household is empty. Birds are also creatures of routine. They are noisier at certain times of day, typically first thing in the morning and late mid-afternoon,with relatively little noise after sunset. (Like their wild counterparts, pet birds that don’t see well at night are inclined to roost shortly after sunset, providing that their environment is not entirely devoid of natural daylight cycles.) Highly social birds such as cockatiels, conures and parrots are best suited to households in which their owner spends a great deal of time home (retired, work-at-home individual, etc.). Large parrots, on the other hand, can be extremely loud and are not suited for apartments and/or homes where the owners are gone much of the day. In summary, birds and dogs are the most noise-prone pets you can admit into a community. Birds, however, are almost never noisy at night.

    5) Fish, as pets, often slip through even in pet-free communities. Fish present no noise threat but their presence, nonetheless, is not without risk. Although it is rare for a fish tank to leak, cleaning an aquarium is a messy affair. What’s more, the care of a tank big or small is a significant commitment. A poorly kept fish tank can emit a bad smell. In a home with older wiring, in particular, failure to unplug heating elements and other equipment during cleaning may also present a risk of electrocution. If you’re going to restrict aquarists in your rental property, do so in areas where the floor may be damaged (e.g. wood flooring, carpet).

    6) Reptiles. With the exception of monitor lizards, alligators and illegal varieties of snakes, reptiles ought not be feared. Small reptiles, in particular, live out most of their lives in terrariums. The biggest threat a reptile poses is to its own owners. Reptiles can carry salmonella. Reptiles, compared to cats, dogs and other furry pets, are less likely to trigger allergies/asthma in subsequent occupants.

  6. Ok all this rant about not renting out to pet owners, what do I do give my animals to a shelter? I am in the process of moving to an other state but would want to rent before buying again. Renting would be a year since I cant find less than. I am sad because I have two Akitas, maltese, and two cats( well one cat about to his end of life) and a bearded dragon. I work my ass off to keep them clean with my yard and home. I can’t afford to pay more for temporary rent , then I might as well buy right into a home for sale. People adding cost are just greedy, why not give a chance on responsible renters. Case by case. All animals act different, I have a cats that act like dogs. No wonder there is a problem in over populated shelters.

  7. As a landlord of over 20 properties, I would MUCH rather rent to a cat owner than a dog owner although I love both animals. Dogs tear up yards, fences, plants, landscaping. They are more likely to pee or poo where they’re not supposed to, not to mention some breeds bark a lot, causing annoyances with neighbors. I’ve seen quite a bit of damage done to my properties, both inside and out, to my dog owning tenants. Cats, however, may scratch on furniture, but that doesn’t effect my property, only the renters. I can honestly say I’ve had no problems with the cats in my properties. I do continue to allow both as pets are family members, although I have considerably raised the deposit for dogs.

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