Should You Ask Tenants for a Pet Resume?

Your resume is often synonymous with your first impression: when it lands on a hiring manager’s desk, your fate lies in how well you come across on paper. Good or bad, thick or thin, your resume reflects your work history, your skill set and your education. A lot about your background is revealed before you ever set foot in the office for an interview.

It might sound strange, but applying this idea to your tenants could come in handy. Property managers have conducted background checks on applicants for years, but asking for a resume isn’t standard operating procedure. Property managers may, however, benefit from asking for pet resumes. Given the increasing numbers of dog bite insurance claims — they accounted for more than one third of all homeowner liability pay outs in 2014 — understanding a pooch’s past could come in handy.

Pet friendly communities are different than pet tolerant ones. Even if you believe pets to be a welcome addition to your community, there’s no denying the inherent dangers associated with allowing animals in your rentals. Not only is there the increased risk of property damage to consider, there’s the very real possibility that a dog might bite or seriously attack someone while on your property. And though the pet owner would be primarily responsible for damages, property owners have been found liable in some cases.

That’s where the pet resume comes in. You don’t need to ask for a literal resume. Instead, ask your potential new tenant about the dog’s background. Ask how long they’ve had the dog, what breed it is, where they adopted the dog from and if it has a violent history. If you’re nervous about asking such a direct question regarding the pup’s propensity for violence, consider asking instead about the dog’s temperament. Understanding how vocal, energetic and friendly the dog is will help you get an idea of what kind of pet you’d be allowing on your property.

Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management recommends leaning into these discussions, as uncomfortable as they may be. It’s better to get the full picture of the dog’s history and likelihood for violence before you allow it on your property. Consider asking about the dog’s grooming needs, too. While you might not need to know the details of Fido’s trims and baths, the answer can reveal a lot about the level of care a dog owner provides.

– Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management