Pet owners can be some of the best (and worst) tenants that landlords may encounter. When pet owners go looking for a new home to lease or rent, they often encounter a litany of "no pets allowed." It can be difficult to find housing, especially if owners have multiple pets. However, those landlords who don't allow pets often do so for legitimate reasons. Those landlords who do allow animals on the property often find themselves with property damage, complaints from neighbors, and even legal repercussions for pets they don't even own. Peoria County Animal Protection Services (PCAPS) developed the following list from resources throughout the country and our own experiences for those landlords willing to allow pets.
Use a written agreement that spells out what type of pet may be kept at the property. You don't necessarily need to name breeds of dogs; rather, state what species of animal you'll allow - dogs, cats, hamsters, rabbits, birds, snakes, etc.
Require the pet owner prove the animal has up-to-date vaccinations - particularly rabies for dogs and cats - and that the pets are properly registered with Peoria County. All dogs and cats over 4 months of age must be vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian and registered in Peoria County with a tag.
Familiarize yourself with the local animal control ordinances. The City and County of Peoria Codes include requirements for humane care of animals, nuisance animals, multiple pet households, and more.
Consider requiring that the dog or cat be spayed or neutered. Neutered cats rarely spray urine as unaltered ones do. Additionally, sterilization eliminates the possibility that one cat or dog turns into a dozen.
Ask for references from previous landlords. If they left the last property damaged or filthy, you'll have an indication of what to expect now. Require that they comply with local ordinance by keeping their pet restrained to the property, not allowing their dogs to create a nuisance by barking, and by keeping their property picked up of feces and food.
Limit the number of pets allowed, and prohibit pets that don't belong to the tenant. Problem animals often get passed around or hidden at other addresses when animal control violations occur.
Sometimes landlords will allow pets, but only if they remain outside. Unfortunately, those are the pets that become nuisances or dangerous if they live their life on a chain or tether. These dogs rarely receive enough attention and will often bark incessantly. And, if tormented, over-stimulated, or frustrated by their confinement, they can become aggressive and present a hazard to the neighborhood.
Check with Peoria County Animal Protection Services to determine if the prospective tenants have animals with current rabies vaccination/registration, a history of animal control violations, or own dogs declared dangerous or vicious.
Be aware that for particular violations of the animal control ordinance and Illinois Animal Control Act, PCAPS may apply for administrative search warrants to enter property and remove animals in violation. And the Animal Control Administrator may declare a dog dangerous for its behavior which may require signage designating a dangerous dog lives on the property.
Report all animal bites immediately to animal control or the police department. If the animal is running loose, it's important to notify the authorities right away to prevent someone else being injured. State and local laws require that every animal bite be reported promptly and investigated within 24 hours. Be able to provide animal control or law enforcement your tenant's name and information in the event their pet bites or attacks someone.