Creating a Thorough Pet Policy for Your Vacation Rental

    accepting dogs at your vacation homeIf you're thinking about accepting pets, or if you already allow them but you don't have a set policy, here are a few guidelines you may want to consider.

    Whatever you decide, you should require all renters to agree to your rules by either including these details in your rental agreement or creating a separate pet addendum. By providing clear rules for your guests (and their furry friends), you'll be in clear agreement about what's expected of each of you.

    Charging a Refundable Pet Deposit vs. a Pet Fee

    Because allowing pets does cause additional wear-and-tear to your home (with the potential for more serious damage), it's perfectly reasonable to charge guests for the privilege.
    A pet deposit is a certain amount of money that you collect from your guests before their stay and refund afterwards, as long as your property is left in pristine condition.

    A pet fee is a non- refundable amount that your guest pays to bring their pet into your home. You can charge either a flat fee per pet (e.g. $100/wk per pet) or flat fee for the first pet and an incremental amount for each additional pet (e.g. $100/wk for first pet + $50/wk for each additional pet). Many owners choose to charge a pet fee instead of a pet deposit to make a little extra money and to avoid the hassle of having to refund yet another deposit. Plus, many travelers who frequently take trips with their pets in tow are used to paying a fee for it and don't mind the extra expense to bring Astro along.

    Types of Pets

    When creating a pet policy, you should give some thought as to which types of pets you will allow in your home. Each type of pet brings a different set of considerations.

    • Dogs More vacationers travel with a dog than any other type of pet. Many vacation rentals that market themselves as being “pet friendly” are actually just “dog friendly” since they do not accept any other types of pets.
    • Cats Since cat dander is the most common pet allergy (suffered by over 10 million in the U.S.), you may want to think twice before allowing a cat in your home. Luckily, while more than 33% of Americans own at least one cat, few opt to bring them along on vacation. Why? If you don't know the answer, then you've probably never tried to travel with a cat.
    • Birds, potbellied pigs, rabbits, rodents, and reptiles As a rule, travelers aren't as keen to travel with non-canine pets; however, you should probably set a policy regarding each type of pet that a guest may want to bring along. It's ultimately up to you to decide whether or not you want to take the potential risk (and smells) of accepting a canary, rabbit, gerbil, or python into your home.
    Since dogs are the most commonly accepted pet in vacation homes, the following guidelines apply specifically to “dog-friendly” homes:

    Age Requirements

    To ensure your home against unwanted chewing and defecation, consider implementing an age limit for the dogs that you allow. As a rule, a puppy becomes an adult dog around the one-year mark. At this age, they typically have control of their bladder and can resist the urge to chew and destroy. Creating an age policy for dogs allowed in your home could save you big headaches in the long run. Because even if your guest swears that his five-month-old Lab is housebroken, you never know how the pet will behave when left alone in a strange environment.

    Weight Limits

    Whether or not you decide to impose a weight limit will likely depend on the size of your home and your personal preference. Some owners choose to limit the size of the dog allowed to under a certain weight (i.e. 30 lbs.) while others actually prefer large dogs since they're easier to house-train and less likely to bark, chew, and get on the furniture. And since many owners limit the size of the dogs they allow, letting your guests bring large dogs could open up your home to a wider set of travelers. If you do decide to accept large dogs, be sure to include this selling point in your vacation rental listings.

    Breed Policies

    Some insurance policies may require you to restrict the types of breeds that you allow in your home (specifically those categorized as “dangerous” breeds). Check with your insurance agent for more info.

    Spay/Neuter Requirements

    You may also want to consider whether you want to accept intact dogs (i.e. dogs that have not be spayed or neutered). Such dogs could require additional housekeeping or could cause neighborhood disturbances. For example, some un-neutered male dogs, while housebroken, still feel the need to mark their territory at your home, typically on the corners of your sofas and beds. And intact female dogs when in heat will not only bring every male dog in the county to your doorstep, but could also create additional work for your housekeeper. For homes in most markets, instituting a policy in which you only accept pets that have been neutered or spayed is probably a good idea. However, if your market hosts dog shows or competitions and you'd like to target travelers attending these events, you'll likely have to allow intact dogs in your home since most show animals are not spayed or neutered.

    Maximum Number of Dogs

    Typically, the more pets that you allow, the more wear-and-tear your property will receive. For this reason, many homeowners choose to limit the maximum number of dogs allowed to either one or two.


    All dogs should be current on all vaccinations, including rabies.

    Flea/Tick Control

    Avoid an ungainly flea infestation at your vacation home by requiring all dogs to be treated with a flea and tick control, like Frontline or Advantage, 3 days before arrival. Explain to your guests that this is as much for the well-being of their dog as it is for your home. Vacation destinations tend to be located in nature-centric or warm areas where pests thrive. Let your guests know about all of the potential pests (deer ticks, sand fleas) and ailments (Lyme disease, anemia) that could threaten the well-being of their furry friend, and they'll be glad to treat their pet with flea/tick control before the trip.

    Local Ordinances and HOA Policies

    Research any policies that your homeowners' association or city may have regarding where dogs are not allowed (e.g. complex pools, beach, gardens, etc.). Be sure to outline any such rules in your rental agreement.

    Pet Waste Cleanup

    Want to know the quickest way to upset your vacation rental neighbors? Allow your guests to bring pets and don't require your guests to pick up after them. Include a clause in your pet addendum that addresses what to do after Snoopy tends to his business. Further encourage this practice by stocking your home with dog-waste bags.

    Leash Policy

    Likewise, it's in the best interest of your guests and your neighbors that all dogs be kept on a leash when outside the four walls of your property, except in designated parks and beaches. Many HOAs and municipalities already require that dogs be leashed at all times. By including this rule in your pet policy, you're simply further ensuring that your guests are following all locally mandated rules and ordinances.


    Your pet policy should also address the issue of barking. Most municipalities have strict noise ordinances regarding unattended dogs whose barking disturbs the peace. Inform every potential guest who wants to bring a dog about your local noise ordinance and warn them about the steep fines for non-compliance. This should convince those with a less-than-angelic pooch to leave Sparky at the kennel.

    Sample Pet Addendum

    It is hereby agreed by and between ___________ (Homeowner) and _____________ (Guest) that homeowner will allow guest to have the following described pet and no others in the vacation home upon and subject to the terms and conditions of the rental agreement and this addendum.

    The permission granted herein shall be limited to a certain pet as described below:

    Type of Pet: ___________________ Name: ___________________
    Color: ________________________ Weight: _______________________
    Age:__________________ Sex: __________________

    Guest hereby agrees to comply the following:
    1. Guest to pay additional pet fee in the amount of $__________ per (night/week).

    2. All pets must comply with the following specifications (documentation from an accredited veterinarian must be provided by Guest upon request):
    a. May not exceed XX lbs.
    b. Must be at least X year(s) of age or older.
    c. Must be spayed or neutered.
    d. Must be up-to-date on rabies vaccinations and all other vaccinations. Heartworm preventive is highly recommended.
    3. All pets must be leashed at all times.

    4. Guest is responsible for cleaning up any/all pet refuse.

    5. Pets are not allowed on furniture at any time. Any evidence of pets on furniture may incur extra cleaning fees.

    6. All pets are to be treated with a topical flea and tick repellent three (3) days prior to arrival. Fleas and ticks are very rampant in this area and can cause harmful/fatal illness to humans and pets.

    7. Pet must not cause damage to premises or furnishings. If damages are caused, the cost of the damage may be deducted from security deposit.

    8. Guest should prevent pets from producing excessive noise at a level that disturbs neighbors.

    9. Pet will not be left unattended for an undue length of time, either indoors or out. Pet will not be left unattended on balcony, patio, or porch.

    10. Homeowner assumes no responsibility for illness or injury that may incur to pets or humans while on the premises.

    The Guest shall be solely responsible for the pet while on the property.

    Sign_________________________________________________________ Date_____

    **Last updated April 11, 2018

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