Monday, November 21, 2016

Pets in Boston - Tenant and Property Owner Tips

It's safe to say that most cities today are pet-friendly!

Boston is no different. Our pets have increasingly become a part of the family, so accommodating this new normal is something that many property managers in Boston now recognize.

If having a four-legged family member in residence is a top priority, there are certain things that both landlords and tenants should keep in mind so that there aren't any misunderstandings.

Here are several tips about pets in Boston rentals for both tenants and landlords.

Tips for Tenants

What should you do when you get a pet in Boston?
Owning a pet is a big responsibility. If you're going to live in Massachusetts, you'll also need to adhere to some legal requirements. The first order of business is to register your dog each year, which also requires that you keep them up-to-date with shots. You will also need to adhere to leash laws and pick up your pet's waste from public places. Finally, finding a pet-friendly apartment in Boston should also be a top priority.

Can a landlord in Boston ask for a pet deposit?
Yes, a landlord in a Boston rental can ask you for a pet deposit as long as it is less than one month's rent.  The deposit must act as a regular deposit, which will be returned to you, less damages, once you move out.

Can a landlord in Boston charge extra in monthly rent if you have a pet?
Yes, a landlord can charge you extra for rent to compensate for having a pet. However, this is an arrangement that you must agree to in your rental agreement.

Can a landlord in Boston evict you if you have a pet in a non-pet apartment?
Unless you fall under the protections of the American's with Disabilities Act (ADA), your landlord can evict you if you violate the terms of your lease.  This means that, if you're living in a non-pet apartment and decide to get a pet, your landlord can obtain a court order for your eviction.

Tips for Landlords

What are the best rules and limitations to apply to tenants that have pets?
If you decide to make your apartments pet-friendly, have clear expectations that are detailed in writing. Require that animals be spayed or neutered and don't restrict tenants to one pet or ask for such things as debarking or declawing. Don't allow pets to be tethered outside and do ask that cats be kept indoors.

Why should you consider allowing pets in your Boston apartments?
If you want to expand your reach and keep your occupancy rates up, making your apartments in Boston pet-friendly is the answer. Apartments that accept pets can not only bring in more renters, but the Massachusetts Animal Coalition reports that these tenants will both stay longer and be more stable.

How can I handle pet-related issues such as damage or poor pet ownership?
When there is a nuisance case, the burden of proof generally falls on the landlord.  Your best course of action is to prevent problems before they occur.  Ask for references from previous landlords and evaluate each tenant on a case-by-case basis. Have clear rules in place and don't just interview your prospective tenants but also insist on meeting their four-legged family members before signing a lease agreement.

Boston Pet-Friendly Neighborhoods

When you have a pet, your choice of neighborhood should consider their needs in addition to your own. Specifically, dogs need parks and green spaces, and pet-friendly businesses are always a plus.

As a landlord in these already popular neighborhoods, you can capitalize on the pet-friendly businesses and communities that have been established by allowing pets in your rentals. Here are several of the most pet-friendly neighborhoods in Boston to add to your list.

Back Bay/Beacon Hill/Midtown - These areas give you access to some of Boston's largest parks, including the Boston Public Garden and the Commonwealth Mall.  The area is massive and should provide plenty of rental opportunities.

South End - Not only are there some great restaurants and businesses here, but you'll also find 13 parks on the tree-lined streets, a dog bakery, and Boston's Animal Rescue League in this part of town.

The Charlestown Navy Yard - Just one mile from downtown Boston, the Navy Yard has been described by some as a 30-acre dog park with plenty of open spaces.

South Boston - "Southie" is home to South Boston Bark Park as well as several other green spaces, a beach, and the entrance to the Boston Harborwalk.

Boston Dog Parks

The city of Boston has six off-the-leash dog parks where you can allow your four-legged bestie to roam with like-minded furry friends. Whether you are a renter or a landlord in Boston, proximity to any of these pet-friendly spaces is certainly considered a plus.

Boston Common - This 50-acre park has set hours when pets can be off their leash, but leashed pets are welcome anytime.

Peters Park - Located in the South End neighborhood, Peters Park has both an off-leash dog park and a separate area for smaller dogs.

Carlton Court Dog Park - This dog park in Back Bay provides a simple fenced-in off-leash area for pets to roam free.

South Boston Bark Park - A Southie treasure, the South Boston Bark Park has a separate area for large and small dogs, trees, tunnels, rocks, and benches for mom and dad.

Richmond Street Dog Park - Located in the North End, this is a popular fenced off-leash park that is maintained by a local community group.

Channel Center Dog Park - This simple dog park is located in the Fort Point neighborhood of South Boston.

Allowing pets at your rental property is a big deal. Now more than 55 million households in the U.S. own a dog, and 66 percent consider their pets to be family members. Many qualified tenants won't give you a second look if your apartments don't take pets.

If you're a pet owner, be sure to clearly understand your landlord's policies regarding pets. A good property management team is also helpful to ensure a positive and lasting experience in your Boston apartment.