Companion Animal, Service, or Pet? Landlord’s Need to Understand the Difference!

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Landlords need to be careful when it comes to who is a pet and who is a companion.  Yes, I am a pet person and so pets are people in my world, but that is beside the point.

Generally if a landlord allows pets he/she also charges an extra deposit and/or a monthly surcharge to allowing the pet.  There are of course other rules that apply such as size, number of pets, where they can be exercised or allowed to go potty, and the like.

Kim Woehl - Keller Williams Premier Realty - 651-214-1459 kwoehl.kwrealty.com

Pet, companion or service animal – know the difference!

So, when a prospective tenant comes to your door and wishes to apply and hands you a doctors note letting you know that they have a companion animal to help them be successful with (fill in the disability here), they will not be required to pay the above.  This is required by the Fair Housing Act.

The Fair Housing Act has been around since 1998 and gives certain rights to those with handicaps.  A handicap is defined as, “a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of such person’s major life activities”.  A companion animal does not need the specialized training that a service animal might need.  This can be confusing so it is why I am trying to share it here.

The law requires landlords to make a “reasonable accommodation” for a disabled person.  So what does this look like for a landlord?  It would be recommended that he/she creates a policy, rule, or procedure to allow a person with a disability to be able to fully enjoy and use their premises.  To further define reasonable I recommend a stop by the American’s with Disabilities Act at http://www.ada.gov/

If still in doubt it might be a good idea to seek legal advice to make sure you are in compliance in being reasonable and in making accommodations.

 

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Renting Your Home – What every homeowner needs to know.

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The housing market continues to be sluggish and home prices remain lower than sellers would like.  For some home owners renting is the solution to making the mortgage payments.

Before you jump into being a landlord and renting out your home, you might wish to consider a few ideas.  First, do you have a temperament that will allow you to work directly with tenants?  Are you a people person?  Will it be hard for you to see others living in your house?  If it still sounds like a good idea, you will next need to decide what it would need to bring in on a monthly basis.  Make sure you include the mortgage, taxes and insurance.  Hopefully you can rent it for more than your costs so that you can make a bit of money as well.

The next thing that must be considered is the rental cost.  You will want to price yourself into the market, not out of the market as having your home sit vacant is not bringing in any money.  Do your research and make sure you are pricing your home accurately.  Remember that although you might love your extra-large deck or fenced in yard that not everyone is willing to pay for extras.  Some tenants will only be looking at the number of bedrooms or number of baths.  With this in mind, price accordingly.

Don’t forget your Schedule E – Yup all income is taxable so please contact your accountant too so that you can better understand what expenses and deductions can be included and to learn how much you will have left over at tax time each year.

Maintenance will need to be considered too.  Things like painting and cleaning between tenants.  Home repairs and maintenance like new siding and roofing.  Perhaps you need to replace a screen or hire a plumber to fix something in the home.  A pool of money should be sitting here in the event that something should break.  This is a good time to tell you that not everyone will treat your home as well as you do.  Some tenants will be destructive costing you thousands of dollars.

If you’re still thinking, “Yeah I can do this”,   then the next step is finding the right tenant.  While this sounds as simple as placing an ad and a sign at the curb, there is much more to be considered.  First off you will want to find a tenant who can actually pay the rent each month and on time.  You will want to treat each consideration with great care.  What does their credit look like, are they employed and for how long?  Do they move around a lot?  Have they ever been evicted?  It is best to interview each tenant as if you were filling a job position.  Make sure you put all information in writing and if they have rented previously ask for former landlord information so that you can contact them as well.  Always collect personal and professional references and do a credit and background check!

So you’re finding that this is still a bit of work and there are still a few more considerations.  Landlord’s insurance is going to cost you a bit more than the standard homeowner’s policy.  A general guideline is about 25 percent more.  The good news is that this cost can reimburse legal fees and provide liability protection should a tenant become injured in the home.  Maintenance and repairs must also be handled quickly so things that you could put off as a home owner must be fixed as a landlord.  You will need to handle complaints and yes, even legal issues such as in the case of eviction which can be costly.

If you like the idea of renting but not taking those direct phone calls then you may want to hire a property management company who will handle these responsibilities on your behalf.  If this is the route for you look for about an a additional 15 percent of the monthly rent to go towards this payment each month.  I hope you have found this information helpful!

If I can help you to sell your home or manage your property, give me a call!  Kim Woehl – Keller Williams Premier Realty 651-214-1459.  I work in the north metro area of Minnesota. If you enjoyed this article please like my page!  Have a great day!