10 ways to protect your property and valuables from pets

By Nell Matzen  |  17 May, 2021

There are countless upsides to having a pet. Big or small, a pet can bring love into your life, get you out and about and exercising, and even have some incredible, positive effects on your health.

For landlords, allowing tenants with pets also has some fantastic benefits: longer tenancies, higher rental returns, higher-quality, more responsible tenants and a larger pool of tenants to choose from.

Despite all of these amazing advantages, a pet can be a massive undertaking for both the pet owner and the landlord. A dog or cat can cause costly damage to an apartment or house, from carpet stains to scratches and chewed staircases.

Whether you’re a landlord, renter or homeowner looking to become a pet mum or dad, we’ve compiled a list of ways to protect your home and valuables from your furry bundle of joy.

Tips for Landlords:

1. Enforce a pet policy

Including a pet policy in the lease is a great way to outline any rules you wish the tenant and their pet to follow, to help avoid unexpected damage and costs. A pet policy can outline the size and type of the animal you’ll allow, prevent the tenant from leaving the pet alone for an undue period of time or prevent pets from engaging in any behaviour that will disturb the neighbours. Most importantly, a pet policy can ensure the tenant will take financial responsibility for any damage caused by the pet.

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2. Pet resume

A pet resume may seem silly at first, but references that can attest to a pet’s past behaviour in a rental could be the difference between inviting Cujo or Lassie to live in your property. A pet resume would typically include breed information, evidence of vaccination and registration, and a handful of reliable references that could speak to the pet’s nature – a vet or ex-landlord would be ideal. And of course, photos are essential to ensure the animal is in good health and the breed of animal you agreed upon.

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3. Landlord insurance

Landlord insurance is potentially a good idea, whether you are accepting pets in your property or not. This specialty insurance covers against accidental and malicious damage caused by the tenant, and any possible legal liability.

Not all landlord insurance protects against damage caused by pets, so check the fine print before taking the plunge.

4. Modify the property

A happy pet is unlikely to cause major destruction to a property, and a few property modifications can help improve the life of the pet and their behaviour. Fencing in a yard will give the animal an area to run and play, and a dog or cat door will allow a change of scenery whilst their pet parents are at work (and, more importantly, prevent indoor accidents).

There are also some practical modifications that can make a property more pet-proof in the long run. Floorboards and tiles and better suited to pet-friendly rentals, as they keep the odours away and won’t need frequent cleaning like carpets. If smells are something you’d like to avoid, consider replacing smell absorbing curtains with wooden or aluminium blinds.

5. Ask to meet pets before approving an applicant

All the due diligence in the world can’t beat meeting the animal before agreeing to an applicant. You will quickly see if the pet is as well behaved as the pet resume suggests and whether they are the right fur tenant for your property.

Tips for Tenants and Homeowners:

6. Research before you buy

If you are a homeowner or renter considering pet ownership and hoping to protect your rental, property, or valuables, a little bit of research can go a long way.

There are countless breeds of dogs and cats to choose from, each suited to a different lifestyle and environment.

Cats are very quiet, clean and relatively low maintenance, but enjoy scratching up furniture and swinging from curtains. 

The right dog breed will depend on the size of your apartment and the amount of time you have to commit to its care. In the age of poodle cross, it’s now possible to get an almost shed-free dog, on top of being hypoallergenic, to keep the shedding and odours down.

7. Use rugs to protect your floors

Whether you rent or own, scratching up floorboards is not ideal. Although floorboards are a more pet-friendly choice than carpet, they are still prone to nicks and scratches, which will require maintenance. Laying rugs in high traffic areas will help protect your floors, as well as providing a warm spot for your pet to lay on cold winter days.

Choose a pet-proof rug that is hard-wearing and liquid, and odour resistant.

pet dog on tiles

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8. Provide plenty of chew toys and scratching posts, and puppy training pads

Keep your dog entertained and out of trouble with chew toys and scratching posts. A dog or cat will quickly learn which things they are allowed to play with or scratch and which things they aren’t. Dogs, in particular, get destructive when bored, so make sure to leave plenty of entertainment if they will be left for extended periods. There are plenty of specially designed dog toys that you can stuff with treats which will have your good boy or girl entertained for hours.

Or go the budget route and fill an empty coke bottle with treats – lid off.

If you decide to get a kitten or puppy, there are many precautions you can take to make toilet training relatively pain-free. Cats are quite easily toilet trained and will quickly learn to go in their litter box – which must be emptied frequently.

Puppies are a little more difficult to housebreak, and depending on the breed or sex, it can sometimes take weeks or months. For dogs, accidents indoors are unavoidable, but crate training, newspaper and puppy pads will reduce their frequency and minimise damage.

9. Take good care of your four-legged friend

As previously mentioned, a happy pet is usually a better-behaved pet. Taking good care of your animal will ultimately take better care of your home. Starting the day off with exercise will minimise the destructive streak some animals may be inclined to whilst their owners are away.

Regularly grooming will help keep your surroundings fresh too. Frequent brushing and bathing will limit pet hair and odours in the house – dogs should generally be bathed once a month. Keeping their nails short and neat will also help limit scratches on floorboards and furniture.

10. Regularly deep clean to ward off pet smells

No matter how well you look after your pet, there will still be some dog and cat smells lingering in the air. Conducting regular deep cleans will help stop these scents from permeating the walls, curtains and furniture of your home. Every six months or so, wash curtains and sprinkle rugs and carpet with specialty carpet cleaners or bi-carb soda before giving a thorough vacuum. Make sure you do a spot test with both cleaning methods to avoid causing permanent stains to your rugs and carpets.

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Words by Nell Matzen

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