by Vince Wong
While everyone has handled the pandemic-ridden year in his or her own way, there’s no disputing that 2020 hasn’t exactly been a morale booster. Essentially, 2020 has meant to morale what torrential rain means for safe highway travel.
But if there is one silver lining, it’s that people have gotten to spend more time with their pets. In a trying year that has tested everyone’s capacity for change, the expanded time with pets has undoubtedly served as a neutralizing force due to pets’ numerous mental health benefits.
As apartment operators clamor to provide a happy and healthy living environment, the presence of pets at their communities should not be undervalued. According to a survey conducted by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute, 66% of pet-owning residents say that their pet has brought them closer to their neighbors.
Happier residents are more prone to renew their leases, pay rent on time and less likely to leave a negative review. While we’ve recently discussed ways operators can make their communities more pet-friendly by reducing or eliminating restrictions pertaining to weight, breed, age and number of pets, the mental-health component underscores why it’s worth considering.
A few additional takeaways from the HABRI study especially pertinent to residents during the pandemic include:
- The practical work involved in caring for a pet, such as feeding, was reported to be a pleasant distraction from mental health concerns.
- Pets provide security through generating a sense of order and continuity, and through providing a sense of meaning in an individual’s life.
- Pets provide a distraction and disruption from distressing symptoms.
- Pets provide a form of acceptance for their owners, as they begin to positively associate as good pet owners. This also positively impacts how others view them.
According to the Pet-Inclusive Housing Initiative, a research and resource development initiative that promotes access to the joy of pets, more than 90% of rental-housing operators and residents believe pets are an important part of the family—and that includes those without pets. And although 76% of operators consider themselves friendly, 72% of residents claim pet-friendly housing is hard to find.
That leaves an available window for apartment operators to separate from their peers by offering the most pet-friendly experience possible. After all, residents in pet-friendly homes remain an average of 21% longer compared to those in non-pet friendly units.
Pet-friendly operators just might experience another hidden benefit, as well. In addition to making their homes more attractive to prospective renters, existing residents can reap the mental-health benefits from having their pets in their homes. That leads to a happier community and increases the chances that they’ll be a reliable, longtime renter.