by David Stunja
Familiar themes have emerged over the past few years as apartment operators have begun to shed antiquated pet policies. Among them:
- Easing breed and weight restrictions increases pet-friendliness and creates a revenue stream by appealing to more renters.
- Property teams should use tech resources to better track the onsite pet population.
- Outscoring assistance animal requests creates better accuracy and eases the burden on the onsite team.
While these well-documented concepts have been supported by an abundance of data and industry studies, many are wondering what’s coming next on the pet-tech front—and for apartment pet trends, in general.
While some of the 2022 pet scene pertains to new concepts and evolving renter demands, the idea of how to responsibly implement some of the existing trends also figures to be a prominent theme. Here is a look at some of the primary storylines as the year begins:
Utilizing tech to expand the capabilities of associates
Even when excluding the pet portion of multifamily, the industry is constantly clamoring for ways to improve efficiencies. Automation is playing a huge role as leasing teams aim to automate as many mundane tasks as possible, and self-tour options are easing the onsite burden. Additionally, artificial intelligence innovations such as chatbots are greatly assisting in the front end of the leasing process.
In addition to providing value, pet-related technology should have the same objective in a hypercompetitive, low-unemployment-rate environment. That’s why pet-tech innovations will be most successful if they are rooted in function and convenience, such as platforms with built-in background checks on pets and owners.
Deciding what to outsource
While community teams have deftly acquired outside help for some aspects of their pet processes, they certainly don’t want to surrender any personal touch by outsourcing all of it. Each community possesses a unique niche within its respective locale, and teams should remain creative with their pet spaces, amenities and the types of services they offer. But when it comes to making certain all residents—pet owning or otherwise—formally acknowledge pet policies, tech platforms can assist and help accurately track a pet population.
Additionally, it’s highly recommended to use a professional service to handle assistance animal requests as opposed to leaving them to onsite associates, who often find them difficult to navigate and admittedly are not experts on the subject.
Avoiding haphazard approaches
Undoubtedly, most operators are now familiar with the far-reaching potential benefits of increasing pet-friendliness. But taking the step to ease or eliminate breed and weight restrictions should be done in measured fashion. It shouldn’t be as carefree as simply saying “all pets are welcome starting … now!”
Teams should keep thresholds in place, such as evaluating each pet on an individual basis as opposed to banning them simply based on preexisting characteristics. Models are available that can score a pet based on its risk threshold—factoring in history of the pet and the owner—which provide community teams with more advanced parameters for evaluation purposes. This enables the community to reserve the right to deny a certain pet, but purely based on individual factors.
The pet-tech revolution is certainly underway. But the industry itself is still very much in a transitional phase, as only some have truly adopted forward-thinking policies. As new innovations and resident demands increase, the importance of high-functioning pet processes and policies will only rise. Those on the front end of the curve will be the first to reap the benefits.