by Mike Shytle
As apartment communities move away from 1990s-era pet policies for more intuitive processes, the issue of breed restrictions remains a polarizing topic. But when implemented in a responsible manner, eliminating breed restrictions can have profound positive effects for the resident experience and the community’s bottom line.
Proponents for eliminating breed restrictions argue that pets should be evaluated on an individual basis rather than any preexisting characteristic. Fortunately, tech advances have made it easier to track past behavior of the pet and its owner, which can assist community teams in the evaluation process.
An important distinction to clarify is that eliminating breed restrictions doesn’t mean rental properties have to allow every pet in the door. It just means some aren’t automatically eliminated from consideration due to their breed. Communities can insist that pet-owning residents provide training certificates, references, vaccination records, fill out a digital pet profile or provide other documentation as part of the community’s application process.
While the arguments for and against breed restrictions are a separate topic—along some of the myths surrounding them—here is a look at some of the primary benefits for apartment communities if they decide to eliminate them:
Bigger resident pool, longer average stays
Pets are family for most pet owners, and these residents aren’t likely to remain past their first lease term if pet-friendliness isn’t up to par. They aren’t likely to live at your community at all if their pet is on the breed-restricted list. The eradication of breed restrictions opens up a new segment of renters, and residents in pet-friendly homes remain an average of 21% longer compared to those in non-pet friendly units according to the Human Animal Bond Research Institute.
Increased pet revenue
While not advocating to let snorting bulls, attack-minded vultures and wampus cats through the door without a second glance, responsibly eliminating breed restrictions will increase pet revenue in that more pets qualify to live at the community. Pet owners typically don’t mind paying pet rent and will be happy to do so if their pet is allowed. This also helps prevent the rare times when residents sneak restricted-breed pets into their homes because they wouldn’t be allowed otherwise. In some instances, the applicant will even try to circumvent a community’s pet breed restriction policy by claiming their pet is an assistance animal. This is attempting to take advantage of the Fair Housing Act and HUD’s guidelines that animal breed restrictions, of any kind, are not applicable or permissible with regard to assistance animals such as service or support animals.
Higher occupancy, more competitive rates
If your occupancy is hovering around 70%, rent growth often has to be put on hold. Worse, you might have to offer concessions to fill your vacancies. The solution might be found in an adjustment of your pet policies. As noted above, the eradication of breed restrictions introduces a new pool of renters, which can help boost occupancy rates. Keep in mind that all restricted breeds aren’t due to perceived violent tendencies. The gentle Great Dane, for instance, is typically outlawed due to its size. And Great Dane owners count toward occupancy rates just as much as anyone else.
Pet breed restrictions have been a staple of the apartment industry for decades. But that doesn’t mean it’s the best approach in the modern world. Reviewing your current breed-related policies and options is a worthwhile exercise. After all, it’s no secret that communities that have removed their pet breed restrictions are already reaping the benefits outlined above.