Renting a house to someone with chickens - questions


7 Years
Oct 31, 2012
Hi there -
We do not raise chickens but we own a rental property in Colorado and our tenants want to raise chickens. Our property management company has never had anyone ask about chickens and is not sure what kind of deposit we should require and what kind of damage chickens can do to yard of the property. I figured this was a good place to come and ask, and see what other things we should include in the rules about having chickens. We do not care if they have them, and the limit in Colorado is 10 I believe, but we want to make sure we protect our property, too. TIA! :)
Chicken feed can attract rodents to the property if not managed well. Chickens dig holes in the ground, usually no more than a foot deep or so to take dust baths in. Rooster crowing can be noisy, if roos are allowed. Hens laying eggs are also noisy, as they sing an egg song.

However, rodents aren't much of a problem if you keep the feed in the coop and it is rodent-proof (don't throw feed all over the yard) I have found.

The holes in the ground are easy to fill with some dirt, but the grass can be torn up and thus you might need to reseed that after the chickens are gone. Chickens will eat every green living thing in the yard if given enough time. So depending on the yard space, all flowers/plants are fair game to them.

If allowed to free range, they can go over to other people's property (or fly over the fence) and eat the plants in neighbor yards, and poop in their yards. Their flight feathers can be clipped on one side to prevent them from flying high (even the heavy breeds can easily get 5 feet up and over a fence if they can perch on it).

IF they are right next to a road I'd be concerned about liability of them running out in the road.

All in all, as a landlord it may be good to get some kind of insurance policy that covers these kinds of things (property damage to others, damages/medical if they run out in road, etc).

Also, free ranging chickens come up onto porches and decks and poop on them.
Hello! I keep chickens and own a rental property so I can see this from both sides.

Chickens are a little destructive. They will eat all of the grass and most plant in the area they are allowed to be and as stated above they dig holes. If there are portions of the yard that you really really want to remain as is, you may want to require that they keep the chickens in an inclosed run.

If not I would either require that they pay a deposit of what you think it would cost to re-seed/landscape the part of the yard they will be in (or the whole yard) or draw up a contract where they agree restore the yard to a similar condition before they leave.

I would otherwise make sure they are following whatever the laws are in your area and ask them to never bring them inside.

I am really glad you are open to this!
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Should we do a deposit like we would a dog or cat? And also maybe stipulate no roosters and no free range so the neighbors are not bothered? The back yard backs an alley and then other houses on the other side of the alley, but we are only two houses down from a main road. Should their renters insurance cover chicken type accidents? I think the only insurance we have on the house is the fire insurance.Thanks again :)
Do they already have the chickens? If they do, you would ask to see the existing set-up,since you are new to renting to tenants with them. This would give you an idea of how they manage the birds and what they may do to your yard. So much depends on the individuals. As former renters we always left the yard better than we moved inbut we only had dogs then. Just my thoughts.
To be honest, I personally would just ask them to please restore the yard and be willing to remove the coop is asked. Maybe make them sign something to that effect. I would also ask to see what they plan on building in advance just to make sure it's ok. But, I am a very lax land lord.

My chickens were a joint purchase with my previous tentants. They also had a dog and a cat. I did not get any additional insurance. I am pretty sure I just have fire and earthquake.

Call animal control and double check the chicken policy. A lot of time they will require that the coop be a certain distance from any residence - just something to know about if space is tight. (I am in violation of the rule at the moment and am not concerned but its a personal choice and just good to be aware). I would avoid a rooster because of neighbor issues. Roosters are super loud. My hens aren't quiet but they aren't complain-worthy loud.
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First verify whether chickens are allowed, and if so, how many and whether or not roosters are allowed. I think you should have a deposit that would cover yard and/or house restoration. While the idea of the tenant restoring the property to its original condition is laudable, and a good tenant would do so, it is easier if you are the one who has the opportunity to determine exactly what needs to be redone.

You need a specific clause in the contract that states that they must obide by local code and also _____, where you fill int eh blank. Code may allow 10, but you may decide that five is plenty. Code may allow roosters, and you may decide that you don't want them. I don't think that restricting them from bringing he birds inside is any more appropriate than it would be to do with a dog or cat or other pet.

Make sure you have current photos of the property before the chickens are added so that if there is a dispute about the restoration needed you have it documented. Make sure to have the camera show the date and time, and if you can get the tenants in the photo, that would also be handy :)

Require, in writing, signed by both parties

1) yard is restored.
2) no roosters
3) with in ordinances
4) confined ranging to the backyard.

Taking pictures of the yard is a good one. If you have any perennials that you do not want destroyed, but are replaceable, have those plants clearly identified so if the chickens do eat them, the tenants can pay replacement costs or replace them before leaving the property. If they are allowed 10 chickens, then you are talking a 40Sq foot coop. So, an 8x5 structure. That can be kind of difficult to move. SO, restricting the coop size, so it is an easily moved/dismantled coop when they vacate the property might be in your best interest.

Personally, I wouldn't say so much that they not let the birds out of the coop and run. The run will become a barren wasteland with in a few weeks... A bit of yard ranging that's confined to the back yard would be good for the birds. IF they are kept out of the front yard, then your road appeal will not be diminished. My birds, I have only 37, so not a lot (snicker) do not tear up my front yard. Their yard however is devoid of life. My birds also travel through the trees that surround my property, and go the neighbors. I have really good neighbors, and they actually LOVE to watch my chickens forage through their yard also. They don't tear up as bad as you'd think.when ranging... unless the plants are really YUMMY. I do not let the birds near my hostas until they are really filled out. If I did not protect them, those dang birds would eat the shoots and there'd be nothing. Well anyway... Just my take.
I agree that it's really nice for the chickens to be allowed to free-range, but they do eat or dig up perennials if they're not well established. Another annoyance for me is that they kick the mulch and gravel out of the beds and into the grass. If you have beds with mulch, the borders will not stay nice unless they are fenced out of the beds. I just put up cheap deer netting to keep them out of the beds in the spring while the plants were coming in, and then again when I got tired of raking up the mulch for the 500th time. But then I always soften and let them back in there, because they love it, and they eat the bugs and poop out free fertilizer, so they are also beneficial in the beds... Agreed that complying with local code, good photo documentation of the property, a contract to "restore" the yard, and a sizable deposit sound like good ideas. They're such fun pets, it's great that you're considering allowing them. I think everyone should have a few in their garden. :)

If you've already got the tenants with chickens by now, how is it going?

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