Our topic today is how to establish parameters for your pet policy. First, you have to decide whether you want to accept pets or not. The main concern for most owners is the liability. Your liability from dog bites is huge. About 25 percent of all claims on residential insurance policies are because of dog bites.

If it’s not liability that worries you, then it could be property damage that can be a concern. All pets, particularly dogs, are capable of urinating on carpet and it’s very difficult to get that smell out, no matter what you do. These seem to be the main concerns of people who hesitate to allow pets.

Setting a pet policyMy advice is to have what we call a strategy that works. I wouldn’t allow any pets on new carpet. After about three years, you can allow a small pet. Then after five years, maybe a larger pet will be acceptable. As a carpet gets older, it depreciates. Once the carpet is eight or nine years old, you can recycle the carpet and recycle your thinking. You would put down new carpet and go back to not allowing pets. This has worked pretty well for us and I think you’ll find it helps if you do it too.

Remember that you don’t want to allow any aggressive dog breeds. The liability on those types of dogs is huge. Your insurance company could sell you an excess lines policy but you’ll have to be careful to get the proper limits. Talk to your insurance company before you decide to allow any pets.

Finally, it’s important to note that service animals are not pets. There are federal laws that cover service animals and as a landlord you have to accept them.

If you need help putting together a pet policy for your rental home, or you have any questions, please contact us at Florida Management & Consulting, and we’d be happy to help you.