Pet Screening: Why It is So Important Not to Skip This Step

By Real Property Associates

Published February 20, 2020

Updated March 5, 2024

Smart landlords know that it's a bad idea to place a resident in your rental property without a thorough screening process. Did you know you should do the same thing for pets? 

Deciding to allow pets into your Seattle rental property isn't an easy decision. However, when you put a pet screening process in place, you have peace of mind about letting renters with approved pets in your property.

So, what is pet screening for rental homes? Or should you even let pets in your rental property? 

Here's what Seattle property owners need to know about creating and enforcing a pet screening process.
Pet screening helps property owners boost profits while protecting properties.

No Pets Are Perfect—but They Can Boost Profits!

That's right! A renter with a fluffy pooch can help you make more money from your Seattle rental property. 

Pets don't pay their share of the rent—but many Seattle landlords have discovered that pet owners make excellent long-term residents! Since many properties don't allow pets, when you find a renter with a pet that meets your criteria, they are more likely to renew their lease than try to find another home that accepts pets.

It's easier for them to stay in your welcoming, well-maintained rental home than trying to find a new rental home that allows Thor, their pet Chihuahua.

While allowing pets can reduce your resident turnover, it's not without challenges. However, with a thorough pet screening process, you can make sure the right renters with the right pets have a home in your rental property.

So, what is a pet screening for rentals? Use the following tips from an expert Seattle property management company to start crafting your pet addendum.

You Might Want to Press "Paws" on These Pets

Without a pet policy and a pet screening process, any renter can claim any animal as a pet. So pythons, pygmy goats, families of stray cats, or a friendly bear could potentially all be fair game to live in your Seattle rental property. 

Next, your pet screening process allows you to set criteria for approved pets. You can consider excluding pets like:

  • Exotic animals

  • Animal breeds banned by city ordinance

  • Large or dangerous animal breeds that aren't a good fit for your property (like bears, even if they're friendly).

While you can exclude particular animal breeds and set rules that follow all city ordinances related to pets, landlords must be careful not to discriminate against one specific pet or resident based solely on their pet. For example, you can face a claim of discrimination if your criteria exclude "all Chihuahuas named Thor."

If you're not sure how to set criteria that follow landlord-tenant regulations, an experienced property manager can help!

"Purr-mit" These Pets! 

What kind of pet is acceptable for your rental property? The right pet is one that meets your criteria—and follows the rules of your lease.

However, since pets can't read lease agreements, it's critical that the pet's owner provides accurate information for your pet screening and follows your pet policies and addendums.

Set your allowable pet criteria and your rules before you start screening! Provide this information clearly when advertising your property

  • Set a maximum weight for pets

  • Specify approved (and excluded) animal breeds

  • Limit the number of pets allowed in your property

  • Require a pet deposit and monthly pet rent

  • Add a pet addendum to the property's lease.

Be sure you are willing to enforce the rules of your pet policy!

Additionally, make sure you're also not too strict with your criteria for approved pets. If you narrow down your allowable pet options to tan dogs weighing only nine pounds, that renter will be hard to find.

Pet Screening Gets the Information You Need

On your resident and pet rental applications, request the information you need to screen every pet. Verify all information much like you do when screening a human resident. Ask the potential renter to provide:

  • Vet and vaccination records 

  • Contact information for the vet

  • The pet's name, breed, age, weight, gender, and a photo of the animal

  • The renter's rental history with the pet

  • Verification that the pet is house trained

Follow up by contacting previous landlords and asking about noise complaints or aggressive behavior. Seattle landlords need to feel confident that a pet and their owner will take good care of the property and won't be a nuisance to other residents or neighbors.

Pet screening with this type of information helps you find an excellent pet with a responsible owner!

Property owners can't exclude renters requiring a service animal or an emotional support animal.

When Pet Screening Isn't Allowed

Your policies and pet screenings don't apply when a resident requests accommodations for a service or assistance animal. Property owners must allow these animals for renters in your rental property to avoid violating the Fair Housing Act (FHA) anti-discrimination laws.

What is the difference between these types of animals? In general:

  • A service animal performs a specific task. They receive training to perform that task to help their owner function with a disability. In most cases, service animals are dogs, but extensions have been made to include miniature horses.

  • An assistance animal or emotional support animal does not have to perform a specific task. These helpful animals can be dogs, cats, or any animal that provides emotional or physical benefits to your resident. Emotional support animals require a doctor's note.

This can be a sensitive issue for landlords and renters. If you're not sure how to proceed with a request for a service animal, a Seattle property management company can help! Experienced property managers are well-versed in navigating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Fair Housing laws when it comes to rental properties.

For instance, the best property managers would know that service dogs and emotional support animals both fall under the same Fair Housing Act protections—and you cannot charge pet rent or a pet deposit for these protected animals.

A Seattle Property Management Company Helps With Pet Screening

Expert property managers can help you find and place the best pets and their owners for your Seattle rental property! At Real Property Associates, we understand local, state, and federal laws concerning the best types of pets for any rental property. We'll help you set your criteria and screen pets and owners before placing them in your rental.

Allowing pets into your rental property can be a serious income booster, so don't fear the fur! You widen your pool of prospective tenants when you market properties to renters who want to bring in their beloved pets. Get in touch with us today to learn more about the pet screening process and how we help property owners maximize revenue while protecting their investments.

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