Pet Policies: Should I Let The Furry Friends Come Along?

This is a common discussion topic in all of the Airbnb forums I’ve joined and it isn’t a one-sided argument. Allowing renters to bring pets into your home not only opens you up to more customers – It also lets you charge extra in the form of a “pet fee”. Obviously, these animals can also lead to more mess and potential damage so, is it worth it? In this post we’ll talk about the pros and cons to letting your guests bring cats and dogs with them for their stay.

The Risk

I don’t need to say the obvious but I will anyway; poop, pee, hair. A well-behaved dog (and dog owner) might leave no furry footprint behind at all, but there is no easy way to vet the quality of canine prior to allowing them into your home. With that said, your best move is to assume the worst in a tailed-tenant. The dog will shed, scratch at your wooden floors and doors, and go potty on your floors. The stink will soak into your carpets and leave a lasting impression for guests-to-come. Plus, the dog will bark at passing cars and other dogs, to the point of annoying your neighbors. I know I’m being dramatic here but, like I said, let’s assume the worst and hope for the best when it comes to hosting dogs.

I let a 3-month renter keep her cat in the home during her stay and the first thing I noticed when I walked in post-checkout was the smell. It was obvious that a cat had been living there, even if it was trained to use the litter box. The second thing I noticed was the hair.. It was all over the furniture and caked on the fans I supplied in each room. My cleaner was able to take care of both the smell and the hair but not without me paying for it.

The Reward

By allowing pets in your short-term rental, you certainly set yourself apart from your competition. Though not as rare as a pet-friendly hotel room, it seems as though most Airbnb hosts lean toward a no-pet policy. If done right, this amenity can increase your occupancy rate and the amount you can charge per night.

People love their pets. In the last couple of years, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, people have become increasingly attached to their animals. With working from home and social isolation being major themes in everyday life, pet owners have gotten used to spending the majority of the day with their little buddies. This attachment means travelers are more likely to want to bring the pets along and are also willing to pay extra for it. In fact, over 50% of travelers want to share their vacations with their pets!

I have seen fees range anywhere from $20 to $100 per pet. You can also consider charging a percentage of the guest’s stay as a pet fee. This method makes sense to me because the longer the guest stays, the more mess their pet can make, and the more the guest pays for it in fees.

In addition to the pet fees, do your research to see how much of a premium you can charge in your nightly rate as a pet-friendly vacation rental in your area.

Precautions and Considerations

First, if you are cleaning the unit yourself and have a serious pet allergy, that should be enough information to make your decision on allowing animals… and the same goes for short-term rental owners who outsource the cleaning. Make sure to ask your cleaning partner if they are okay with tidying up after pets. It is important to keep this vital piece of your operation happy and, if they have an allergy, think about how miserable they’d be in that environment post-stay.

If your cleaner has no issue dealing with pets in the home, be prepared to be charged an extra fee for the service. The fee you charge the guests should more-than-cover this cost to you.

It is not uncommon to see Airbnb hosts charging a refundable deposit to guests with pets. $200 is relatively standard for this deposit, which can be withheld from in case of any additional damages caused by the animal.

Lastly, consider your flooring. Materials like tile, vinyl, and laminate are some of the most pet-friendly options. Hardwood flooring can be scratched if a renter doesn’t keep their dog’s nails trimmed well. Carpet is the worst option for pets. Much harder to clean than a hard surface, carpets can capture stains and smells that can remain long after the guest checks out. Now, I’m not suggesting redesigning your rental property just to accommodate pets. I’m just saying to consider the flooring already inside the home in your decision-making process.

Happy hosting!

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