According to the 2017–2018 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA), 68% of U.S. households own a pet (89 million dogs, in particular). So, couple that statistic with the fact that 37% of pet owners travel with their pets every year and you’ve got money-making possibilities as a pet-friendly vacation rental.
There’s no question that choosing to market your vacation rental as pet-friendly gives your property a competitive advantage. Multiple experts agree that allowing pets attracts a larger pool of renters. With that being said, pet-loving vacationers who love to bring their fur-babies with them wherever they go will put your rental at the top of their list. Plus, you’ll reap extra income when you charge a reasonable pet fee.
Key Considerations to Pet-Friendly Vacation Rental
However, the decision to allow pets in your vacation rental isn’t one to make quickly and without proper thought. A few important things to consider include:
- Your location. Some locations are made for pets and some are not. If your rental is near a beach, dog-friendly hiking trails, parks and more, allowing dogs will win you many more customers. However, if your rental is in an urban area with very little accommodations for four-legged travelers, accepting pets may not be to your advantage.
- Your pet tolerance. Be clear what you mean by “pet-friendly.” Since cat dander is the most common pet allergy (suffered by over 10 million in the U.S.), and 1.8 million Americans own a reptile as a pet, you will want to consider the type of pet you allow. Most people mean dogs specifically, so if that’s true, be sure to state “dogs only” in your pet-friendly vacation rental listing. (But remember that legally, you must make accommodations for people with service animals, no matter what species they are. Technically, a person with a service animal can even rent a property that says “no pets.”)
- Your risk. Pets do come with risk, including damage to property, aggressive behavior and excessive barking. However, most people who travel with their pets are confident in their pets’ behavior. (If they weren’t, they probably wouldn’t take them on vacation in the first place.) Also, you risk alienating allergy-sensitive travelers. According to the Humane Society of the United States, about 15% of the population is allergic to dogs or cats.
- Your cost. Pets probably will increase the amount of cleaning needed between guests so you’ll definitely want to charge guests a pet fee to cover the cost of increased housekeeping and potential damage caused by urine stains, chewing, etc. Be sure to have clear communication with your housekeeper, and make sure to allow enough time between guests checking out and checking in.
Setting the Rules
If you choose to allow pets in your vacation rental, make rules to protect yourself, your home, and the pets. Allowing pets doesn’t mean allowing bad behavior. Veteran pet-friendly vacation rental owner Marie Grizzard suggests six simple rules she asks her renters and their pets to follow:
- Pet(s) must be on flea preventative.
- Must be fully housebroken.
- Must be under owners’ full control at all times, and on a leash when walking outside.
- Dog(s) are not allowed on beds or other furniture.
- Tenant assumes responsibility for any damage that their pet causes to the home.
- Tenant removes dog waste in the yard caused by your pet.
Once you decide that being a pet-friendly vacation rental is right for you, consider adding a few extra touches that will really set you apart with pet-loving renters:
- Buy a poop scooper and leave it in a handy place along with a supply of plastic bags
- Make a list of local vets, including a 24-hour emergency vet hospital
- Make a list of local dog-friendly restaurants and parks where Fido is welcome
- Leave a small bag of specialty dog treats as a welcome gift
- Supply a food and water bowl
Ultimately, it’s your decision whether or not to allow pets in your vacation rental, but it’s important to consider all the pros and cons when weighing the option. We’d love to hear from you about why you chose to allow, or not allow, pets in your property.
We’ve put all this information into a handy worksheet so you can make the best decision for you. Download it here.