Foreword: This article is not a substitute for legal counsel. When you find yourself facing a complication in your screening process, reach out to the Atlanta property management experts at Revolution Rental Management— formerly known as GTL Real Estate — or talk with your attorney.
We are a nation of animal lovers! A recent National Pet Owners survey revealed that pets belong to 67 percent of households nationwide—and this is a rising trend. Americans enjoy keeping pets for various reasons—but that means keeping an animal that's genuinely a pet!
As an Atlanta rental property owner, you need to know that the pets you allow into your investment homes are safe to be there. With that in mind, pet screening is one way in which investors can confirm that the animals living in your property are less likely to cause damage or harm another resident.
That said, just as with screening your renters, it's a process that needs to be undertaken carefully. Consider the following insights from a skilled Atlanta property management company when it comes to the pet screening process.
What Is Pet Screening?
Pet screening is a series of checks that are applied to pets, usually by residential authorities. Pets are screened to ensure that they are safe enough to be kept in (or visit) a certain building or area.
- Property owners and managers can develop their own policies and requirements for the purposes of pet screening.
- They can use these criteria to screen the pets of people who apply for residency, and they can specify which animals are permitted and which are not.
- In some cases, certain breeds and species are already on lists for 'restricted' animals because they represent a greater risk for insurance purposes.
- Applying the same screening criteria to each renter with a pet can reduce the risk of difficult or dangerous situations that may occur on the property, as well as your liability as the investor.*
The process of pet screening is made easier when pets already have their own certified pet profiles set up by your future renters!
*Note: This does not apply to Service Animals (SAs), which currently recognize dogs and miniature horses as qualifying aids. You'll need to approach this process entirely differently with Service Animals in mind, and it's best to work with an Atlanta property management company to avoid the risk of bias and litigation.
Pet Profiles Save Time for Owners and Renters
If your renters have already gone through the process of compiling information on their pets due to a former residence, they should still have this already set up and ready to go. While some of the information may need to be updated, profiles are usually stored and provided by third-party services and are therefore easy to access digitally.
Each service creates a profile for each pet with important information relating to their status and characteristics. This database will vary by provider but may include:
- Behavioral information
- Vaccine records
- Spaying and neutering records
- Vet history
- House training information
- Service Animal (SA) or Emotional Support Animal (ESA) designation.
Pet profiles help to explain the risks that are involved with particular pets and their owners. It is also possible that former rental property owners may have reported any incidents or damage that a particular pet caused while living in their Atlanta homes. This could include a dog bite, attack, or any damage to property.
Companies that provide pet screening services usually charge a fee for pet owners, but there is no charge for the third parties that use this information. As a property owner, this means you do not need to pay for the pet screening process: your renters should be covering the cost as part of their application fee.
Why Is Pet Screening Necessary?
To some pet owners, pet screening may seem like an unnecessary and inconvenient restriction on the freedom of their cherished domestic animals. However, these measures are not only essential for authorities that come into contact with pets, but they are also a useful record for pet owners to keep.
Animals that are kept as pets are domesticated, and therefore they are usually safe to be around humans. If that's the case, why do we recommend that Atlanta rental property owners screen pets?
It is very easy for animals to carry diseases, and they do not always display any symptoms of illness. This means it is important for veterinarians to carry out physical examinations on a regular basis, at least once a year. This will include checks for parasites that spread from mosquito bites, blood tests that show infections and metabolic diseases, and urinalysis that reveal any problems in the kidney or bladder.
In recent years, recognized authorities have called for pet screening to be carried out more thoroughly and intensively. New guidelines released by the IDEXX Laboratory and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) recommend that screening for pets should be more frequent to catch illnesses in animals.
Although regular screening can represent an expense of time and money for pet owners, it is certainly in their interest to detect any diseases at an earlier stage.
Vets usually recommend that dogs, cats, and some other pets receive core vaccines at an early age, then every three years after (depending on the vaccine). This varies by the animal and breed, and there are different regulations in every U.S. state and local jurisdiction. However, one of the top vaccinations of concern is almost always up-to-date rabies shots.
Aggressive Behavior Is a Real Concern
Every year, around 4.5 million people suffer dog bites, and 20 percent of these wounds become infected. Not only dogs have the potential to cause harm to the people around them, which is a good reason to exercise caution around unfamiliar animals.
- Naturally, incidents that involve aggressive pets harming neighbors or other people in the vicinity are likely to lead to lawsuits.
- Domestic animals that are not adequately controlled may also damage property.
- For these reasons, it is best to have a framework of regulations in place so that the residents of a property know what is permitted for their pets.
Policies of pet screening do not need to be a way of excluding or restricting pet owners from enjoying life with their pets. Instead, they provide a set of official guidelines that will allow pets to live more safely and harmoniously with their immediate environment.
When you're looking for your next great renter, keep the pet screening process in mind. It could spare you, your other renters, and your rental income a world of heartache if you're able to prevent dangerous pets from moving into your property! If you need more assistance, you can always reach out to the Atlanta property management experts here at Revolution Rental Management.