Pets are a part of many people’s lives. For some, pets are just as much a part of their family as their own blood relatives.
In today’s world, there certainly is no shortage in the number of tenants that own pets and want to lease your Montgomery County rental property. And, should you be the type of landlord that wishes to allow pets in your investment property, there are some things you should be aware of.
Today we are going to discuss unusual, yet still legal, pets that your tenants may own. Knowing some of the exotic pets your tenants may request to reside with them will help you decide whether to allow pets in your Montgomery County rental home.
Exotic Animals as Pets
For most people, owning a golden retriever to play catch with, an independent cat that comes around only to eat and sleep, or a tank full of colorful fish that float around without a care in the world will suffice when it comes to pet ownership.
However, there are other people who desire to step outside of the typical pet and opt for something a bit more unusual, possibly even exotic.
In general, exotic pets are those other than dogs, cats, farm animals, and common “pocket pets” like guinea pigs, rabbits, and small rodents such as rats, mice, and hamsters. Small reptiles including turtles, lizards, and snakes are also exotic, though they are rarely banned in any state. Parrots too are considered “exotic,” while other bird species are thought of as common household pets.
Each state has its own regulations regarding exotic pet ownership, and Maryland is no different.
Let’s look at the pets your Maryland tenants cannot legally own while residing in your rental property, or any other property for that matter.
- Wild felines
- Primates of any type
It is important to note here that each city, county, and even neighborhood may have ordinances in place further restricting particular exotic animals.
Your Montgomery County property management company should be well-versed in these laws before approving and placing a tenant with an exotic pet into your rental property.
Now that you’ve seen what pets are not legal, let’s take a deeper look into which unusual animals your tenant can legally own.
Although small rodents are not exotic animals in America, and the capybara is indeed a rodent, there is one thing that sets this animal apart from your ordinary hamster or guinea pig, thus making it exotic.
That would be its size.
Weighing up to 140 pounds, the capybara is the world’s largest rodent. Here are some other fun facts about capybaras:
- They are semi-aquatic and love to spend time in the water
- They have webbed feet
- They eat mostly plants as well as their own droppings
- They typically live 12 years in captivity
Though they get along well with most people, owning a capybara comes with challenges. They require lots of time and attention, their teeth are extremely sharp, they require a pool to swim in, and their food can be quite expensive. However, for the right person, a capybara can be a wonderful, unusual pet.
Another rodent that is legal to own in the United States is the chinchilla. This animal’s incredibly soft fur is what appeals to most pet owners. In fact, they were driven to near extinction at one point because the demand for them as pets was so high.
Chinchillas eat both plants and meat and are known for being smarter than rabbits. In addition, they love to play. However, they do not get along well with small children due to their hyperactivity and high-strung nature.
Related to the salamander, the axolotl is best known for its ability to regrow all of its body parts, including its jaw, spine, and even its brain.
Here are some more facts about this unusual pet:
- Axolotl literally means “water dog”
- The feathery branches that grow out of its head are actually its gills
- Despite living in the water and having gills, axolotls grow lungs that they never use
For those that love to have exotic fish, the axolotl is a great choice.
Many people may not know that hedgehogs are actually exotic animals. This is probably because many pets stores sell them as ordinary “pocket pets” like the ones discussed earlier – mice, rats, and hamsters.
Hedgehogs are have non-prickly quills and roll up into a ball, and away when threatened. They spit on themselves when they encounter new smells and make squealing noises when exploring new environments. In addition, they love to socialize and bond with their owners.
The only downfall to owning a hedgehog is the fact that they are known to carry diseases, including the Salmonella bacteria.
This marsupial (meaning they have a pouch—just like a kangaroo) is a wonderful little pet that exhibits a very strange trait. Sugar gliders fly through the air as though hang gliding, sometimes as far as 150 feet, using their “wings.”
Sugar gliders love to have a buddy and will socialize with their owners providing lots of entertainment.
Though they are typically clean pets, sugar gliders are not known for being easily house trained and have sharp claws that can scratch most surfaces. In addition, they have very sharp teeth and tend to bite when threatened.
Charming and intelligent, though very large, pot-bellied pigs can be great exotic pets if in the right environment. However, they are demanding and need a lot of one-on-one care, which many pet owners become frustrated with over time.
Pot-bellied pigs are extremely smart and mischievous, need tons of food on a daily basis, have a mean temper and can be aggressive. On top of that, they live for as long as 20 years, making them a difficult animal to handle.
Altogether, these exotic pets are a handful and require extreme commitment.
These big, tough looking spiders strike fear into the hearts of arachnophobes everywhere. However, they are actually some of the least aggressive spiders in existence.
Here are some things you may not know about these hairy spiders:
- They can live 20-30 years
- Their leg span can sometimes reach nearly 10 inches
- They have retractable claws, much like a cat
- When threatened, they throw small barbs at their attacker
- They do not spin webs
As a docile spider that is fun to look at, and even hold if you are brave enough, it is easy to see why they make a great exotic pet.
The Lease Agreement Pet Policy
Deciding whether to allow pets in your rental property can be difficult, especially knowing that exotic pets such as the ones mentioned above may be entering your investment property. That’s why it is crucial that your Montgomery County property manager draft an airtight lease addressing all of your concerns regarding pets, particularly the exotic ones:
- Include a detailed pet policy in your lease agreement
- Ask prospective tenants about their pets and be sure to see the animals in person
- Ensure that every animal has current vaccinations
- Charge a pet fee, a deposit, or even a monthly rental add-on for owning a pet in your property
- Specify the number of pets allowed and ban those you do not wish to allow
- Encourage or even require tenants to get renter’s insurance
By defining the pet policy in the lease agreement from the beginning, your tenants will have a full understanding of their responsibilities regarding the pet and your property. This also allows you to inform them of any consequences they may face for violating any portion of the lease agreement.
If you are considering allowing pets in your Montgomery County rental home, make sure you are knowledgeable about all types of pets your tenants may own.
Although you may not enjoy the thought of owning a 300-pound pot-bellied pig, or a flying sugar glider, your tenants might. And since those pets are legal in most states, unless you state otherwise in the lease agreement, your tenants will be able to legally own those pets and lease your property.
Bay Management Group is Maryland’s leading property management company. Our knowledgeable staff understands all state and local laws related to leasing rental homes.
In addition, we have the expertise to draft a solid lease agreement outlining all of your pet policy provisions in a legally compliant way that both you and your tenants can understand.
If you own rental property in the Montgomery and Delaware County areas, contact Bay Management Group today. Pet policies can be a difficult thing to maneuver and no other property management company will meet your needs like Bay Management Group.