by David Stunja
Mitigating revenue loss has always been a primary concern for multifamily operators. But as with everything else, the pandemic has magnified the impact of any financial shortcomings and cast an enormous spotlight on a problem that needs to be solved immediately.
Savvy apartment operators are using technology to recover lost revenue and mitigate future losses, with some accelerating their tech rollout timelines from two years to two weeks. While most of these rollouts involve PropTech such as virtual tours and remote leasing, one often overlooked concept that can quickly drive revenue is PetTech.
It is no secret that pet adoption has prominently risen during the pandemic, which provides operators with a unique opportunity to increase revenue by making their communities more friendly to pet owners. And while concepts such as reducing breed and weight restrictions aren’t rooted in technology, PetTech can help implement them responsibly.
Here are some of the ways more intuitive pet processes can help operators recover some desperately needed revenue:
Ease pet limits, weight thresholds
With pet ownership being one of the only things trending upward in the pandemic, communities should consider letting more of them into their buildings. Reasonably increasing the number of pets allowed per home is one way. Eradicating weight restrictions, as recently done by Camden and others, is another and generally involves little risk of increased damage. A recent PetFinder study indicated that only 11% of apartment communities allow large breeds, which means plenty of that market share remains.
Reduce breed restrictions
Reducing or eliminating pet breed restrictions causes more pause than erasing pet-limit and weight restrictions—but this is where PetTech can help. Reducing breed restrictions can be done responsibly when pets are evaluated on an individual basis rather than any preexisting characteristics. This can be done when each pet has a digital profile outlining its behavior history. A digital profile allows property managers to track and report the behavior of the pet and its owner, and the profile remains active when residents move. When an incident is reported on a pet and its owner, it follows them into perpetuity and allows the next property manager to access the profile and see any reported incidents. Properties can still maintain the ability to restrict certain pets, but now it can be based upon the pet’s and owner’s individual history rather than breed characteristics alone.
Use PetTech to handle reasonable accommodation requests for animals
Reasonable accommodation requests for assistance animals can present a complex challenge for many onsite property management teams, but they don’t have to. A reasonable accommodation request can be handled much like a credit check by using a third-party resource that specializes in evaluating these requests and is compliant with the Fair Housing Act and HUD guidelines. The third-party screening service, rather than the onsite team, verifies whether the request is valid and whether the submitted support animal documentation is legitimate.
This complements the reduction of breed-restrictions, as well. Oftentimes residents will try to sneak animals into the community under the guise of a service animal because it is a restricted breed. When the breed is not restricted, these residents are less inclined to circumvent the system and more willing to pay regular pet rent. The Assistance Animals in Housing Report indicates that of all accommodation requests started, 63% were insufficient, which underscores the need for onsite teams to outsource these requests rather than trying to navigate them on their own.
Revenue reduction isn’t an isolated occurrence in the 2020 apartment industry. It’s a reality. As operators clamor to recover some of the missing income, modified pet processes spurred by PetTech can make a significant difference.