by David Stunja
Data has never been so accessible and actionable. Yet, many apartment operators continue to rely on gut feelings to drive decisions as opposed to utilizing these valuable metrics.
Part of the challenge is that many operators don’t know that this data exists. And while their instincts might have some merit in many instances, data can enhance those insights and help drive more solid, accurate decisions that genuinely move the needle.
The PropTech revolution has made it easier for apartment operators to make data-driven decisions based on rental payment history and credit worthiness. It has allowed them to precisely track the steps of the renter journey and monitor the use and performance of various smart-home and building features. For the most part, data now exists to augment any onsite process—and that includes managing and tracking pets and assistance animals.
The Assistance Animals in Housing Report, for instance, contains several metrics that can assist apartment operators in one of the most challenging pet-related processes—reasonable accommodation requests for assistance animals. The process for reviewing these requests has been established on a federal level by Fair Housing and HUD guidelines, but gaining knowledge of what to expect from requesting parties can help operators set pet and animal policies on a more local level within their communities.
Some of the key insights from the report, which is based on a subset of the over 31,000 nationwide accommodation requests submitted to PetScreening from April 2017 to June 2020, include:
- Of all accommodation requests, 43% were insufficient. However, less than 1% met the definition of fraud (forged or altered documents, etc.). When completed requests were found to be insufficient, most returns pertained to other factors, such as an inability to furnish required information.
- Of those who started a request, 41.5% decided not to complete the simple and secure process. While the factors could vary, some requesters likely realized during the process that they didn’t possess the sufficient documentation or meet the HUD guidelines to qualify for an assistance animal.
- Dogs accounted for 83% of all accommodation requests, cats 16% and all other animals 1%.
- Pit bull was the No. 1 dog breed for accommodation requests, followed by Labrador retriever and German shepherd. While that is not surprising, the Chihuahua checked in at No. 4 after the influx of larger breeds. The prevalence of Chihuahua requests serves as solid background info for operators who might have been initially skeptical.
While some apartment operators have elected to outsource their accommodation request processes so they don’t have to handle them internally, these metrics offer a glimpse into what a community can expect when receiving them. It can set the groundwork for developing comprehensive policies that meet the needs of the community’s pet and animal population.
Like virtually everything else in the apartment world, relevant data pertaining to pets is everywhere. Operators can quickly research how pet ownership has risen during the pandemic, the propensity of pet popularity and data-supported benefits of reducing restrictions such as breed and weight.
The key is to locate the data and leverage it to improve your onsite processes.