by Judy Bellack
Apartment residents, like people everywhere, are absolutely crazy about their pets. Although it may sound cliché, renters feel like their dogs and cats truly are members of their families. The bond between owner and pet is unmistakable.
And a new report highlights the considerable financial benefits owners and operators can reap by being truly pet-inclusive.
According to the 2021 Pet-Inclusive Housing Report from the Michelson Found Animals Foundation and the Human Animal Bond Research Institute, residents in pet-friendly housing stay 21% longer than those in non-pet-friendly housing. This means operators can reduce their turn costs as well as their marketing spends because they’re not having to fill vacated units as frequently. Similarly, 83% of owner/operators say pet-friendly vacancies are filled faster, and 79% say the vacancies are easier to fill.
Among the study’s other notable findings:
● 24% of residents say their pet has been a reason for needing to move.
● 14% have surrendered their pet as a result of their housing situation.
● 35% of non-pet-owning residents say they would get a pet if restrictions on their rental housing were lifted.
To better attract and retain pet-owning residents, the report recommends that owners and operators consider the following steps:
● Offer a free month of pet rent.
● Waive pet deposits and instead rely on regular security deposits to cover the minimal damage that pets may cause.
● Create an easy-to-follow screening process and pet agreement that focuses on well-behaved pets and owners.
● Formalize the types of pets allowed in the community with a forward-thinking, positive pet policy.
● Increase the number of pets that can live in a unit from one to two.
● Coordinate with shelters and pet-adoption agencies to organize meetings between residents and pets.
With a common-sense easing of weight and breed restrictions, as well as reasonable limits on the number of pets, owners and operators could increase demand for their apartment homes. In the process, they could also, over time, help up to 8.2 million animals in need find homes , the study concludes.
In fact, 72% of residents say pet-friendly housing is hard to find, even though 76% of apartment operators accept pets. Breed and weight restrictions are key contributors to this apparent disconnect between renters and operators. The good news? Rethinking current policies can provide a path toward minimizing that disconnect.
In the coming months, this blog will continue to outline the many compelling findings of this data-rich report, compiled after a nationally representative survey of nearly 1,300 residents and more than 550 rental-housing owner/operators. Additionally, we’ll keep you informed of the many ongoing efforts of the Pet-Inclusive Housing Initiative to provide information and resources for the multifamily housing community.
But in the meantime, the conclusions ring loud and clear: If you’re looking to enhance your bottom line and boost the performance of your portfolio, providing a more welcoming environment for pet owners is a great way to do it.