by Vince Wong
For many pets, their chance to live at a rental-housing community is over before it begins. They are on the restricted list, which eliminates them from consideration of living with their owners.
Fortunately, that narrow way of thinking is slowly beginning to change. More commonly, apartment operators are electing to evaluate pets on an individual basis rather than any preexisting characteristics. Still, while 76% of rental properties allow pets, only 8% do so in completely unrestricted fashion according to the Human Animal Bond Research Institute.
While breeds are most commonly restricted due to their perceived propensity for aggression, restrictions regarding size are just as prevalent. In fact, about half of rental properties have restrictions for each size and breed. Large breeds often find themselves on restricted lists simply because they usually exceed 50 pounds.
In fairness, apartment communities must be astute about mitigating risk in all of their onsite processes. It would be shortsighted to advocate for a “no rules” situation in which every pet or animal is allowed into the building without any upfront protocols. But when done responsibly, the ease or elimination of breed restrictions can help rental communities capture a larger subset of renters and increase opportunities for pet-related revenue.
It starts by understanding and moving past some of the common misconceptions regarding breed. Here are a few of the myths:
Perceived aggressive breeds will disrupt a community
For starters, “bully breeds” is an ambiguous term and something of a myth on its own. Yes, German shepherds, akitas, pit bulls and rottweilers are among the breeds that commonly end up on restricted lists, but it doesn’t mean they cannot be wonderful house pets. Rather than refusing to consider them, some property teams are starting to evaluate each pet on an individual basis. That includes background checks on owner behavior, in some instances. While the property can still deny the pet if there are any red flags, previously restricted breeds at least have a chance. The Management Group, for instance, has experienced a pet-owner renewal rate of approximately 80% since lessening long-time restrictions on breed and weight.
Large breeds cause more damage
Bigger doesn’t always mean more destructive. In fact, no data exists that correlates larger house pets to increased damage within a home. Great Danes and Newfoundland dogs, for instance, are among the most peaceful home dwellers. Recognizing this, many multifamily companies have done away with weight restrictions.
Eliminating restrictions eliminates control
Property teams aren’t relinquishing full control of their pet population by easing breed restrictions. They can require residents to provide training certificates, letters of recommendation or other documentation that shows the resident has made a strong effort to properly socialize the pet. Additionally, the idea of evaluating pets on a one-by-one basis reserves the right for community teams to maintain control of which pets can live at the property.
Breed restrictions are based on negative perceptions—many of which are not true or only accurate in a small sample size of instances. Fortunately, some apartment operators are beginning to shift away from absolute restrictions in favor of less rigid processes that remain responsible.
It’s a trend that could result in the rehoming of thousands of pets and a spike in the number of pet-friendly properties across the nation.