Pet Friendly Rentals in Montana: Pros & Cons
Allowing pets in rental units has long been a fraught topic. Especially in pet-friendly towns like Missoula, Billings, and Bozeman, there is a dearth of available rental properties that accommodate animals. What’s a landlord – or a renter – to do?
Any animal can cause a great deal of property damage, especially if left unattended for long periods. References who will also speak to the prospective tenants’ pet-ownership abilities can go a long way to reassure a landlord.
Lingering pet odors can be a challenge to remove. Once a property has housed animals, some sensitive or allergic tenants may not be able to rent there until major mitigation measures have taken place.
Perhaps the greatest concern to landlords is pet temperament. If a pet causes physical harm while on the landlord’s property, the landlord could be named in a personal injury lawsuit.
Pet owners are statistically happier. Service animals (learn about the differences between pets and service animals here) can improve the quality of life for tenants. If pets can be connected to happier, healthier tenants, landlords may allow them in units under clear rules.
Did you know that only a dog or a miniature horse qualifies as a service animal in Montana?
Another benefit of renting to pet owners is that landlords can expand their pool of applicants (though, with Montana’s historically low multifamily vacancy, that may not be as compelling currently).
Finally, finding a pet-friendly rental can be a challenge. But, tenant turnover may be reduced if landlords allow pets. That translates to reduced costs to fill the unit if tenant churn occurs less frequently.
Clear expectations and communication are key in a successful pet-friendly multifamily policy. Renters should be prepared to show evidence of responsible pet ownership through references. Landlords should provide clear rules for pet behavior (including noise) and fees for pet damage or extra cleaning.
Learn more with the Montana Residential Landlord and Tenant Act of 1977.