by David Stunja
When the debate about whether or not to allow pets in multifamily communities gets underway, a number of concerns come up. But they don’t rank the way one would think.
According to the latest Multifamily Pet Policies and Amenities survey, conducted by PetScreening in partnership with J. Turner Research, the top pet-related concerns have very little to do with the pet itself, and more to do with pet owners. Nearly 23,000 participants were surveyed, and the top concerns of non-pet owners are ones that fall largely within the owners’ control.
When non-pet owners were asked what their top three pet-related concerns are, it wasn’t fear, aggression or biting that topped the list. It was nuisance issues such as pet waste, excessive barking and unleashed dogs that perturb them the most.
On top of the list is pet waste, with 84% of respondents saying it’s their highest concern regarding pets being permitted onsite. Barking followed at 62%, and 37% cited off-leash pets as a major concern. When it comes to biting, only 12% of respondents listed it as a concern of theirs.
Considering what the top pet concerns are, it’s no surprise that the most desired pet amenities are features that help alleviate the concerns echoed by non-pet owners. A sizable 65% of pet owners and residents planning to get a pet within the next year said that having convenient pet waste stations is most important to them. A close second on the list, mentioned by 64% of current pet owners and those planning to become one, is an onsite pet park. Meanwhile, 45% of these respondents said that access to an outdoor dog run is important to them when owning a pet.
Let’s talk about it
First, the concern of untended pet waste can be addressed by installing and adequately stocking waste stations for residents to easily access and use. If bags and trash cans are provided, owners have no excuse not to pick up after their pet. And if the problem persists, DNA services can analyze and trace pet waste back to its irresponsible owner.
Second, the concern of excessive barking can be balanced by having an onsite pet park where dogs are allowed to woof up a storm. Pets then have an area just for them to release built-up energy. If the issue is ongoing and specific to a particular home or pet, then repercussions may be imposed, as with any noise violation.
Finally, while all communities might not have the space for a pet park, a dedicated outdoor pet area of some form where pets are allowed to be off leash is highly recommended. While there are owners who think their pet is well behaved enough to walk and play without a leash anywhere they please, most residents, pet owners and non-pet owners alike, find that to be a safety concern. By designating an off-leash location in the community, pet owners will be more likely to keep their pets on a leash when outside of the pet area. Property teams with constricted space can also recommend local parks where pets can enjoy some off-leash time.
When it comes to pet-related concerns, we now see it isn’t a fear of pets or aggression that residents worry about most. It’s issues that ultimately fall on the shoulders of pet owners, most of which can be corrected with responsible actions taken by the pet’s human, and by operators investing in some simple onsite pet amenities.
Insight into these pet concerns also illustrates that operators can responsibly reduce pet-related restrictions. By allowing more pets on property, operators will increase demand, as well as their revenue opportunities. All the while, more pets will find places to be loved and to call home.