The terms service animals and support animals are used interchangeably. The distinctions between them, however, are very important. While it’s forgivable for those with a cursory understanding to initially believe they are one and the same, property teams would be well advised to know the nuances.
Simply allowing pets is a solid start to attracting today’s renters. Reducing or eliminating breed and weight restrictions is even better. But as part of an effort to increase pet-friendliness at apartment communities, operators must address another key facet—promoting responsible pet ownership.
Just as frustrating as their consequences is the fact that these bans are based on the myth that certain breeds are inherently dangerous. That’s right: When you take the time to investigate the matter, you’ll see that breed bans are built on a foundation of sand.
Apartment communities have become very creative when it comes to keeping their current residents. Soft renewal-rate increases, promises of more resident events, the implementation of cutting-edge smart home features, property upgrades, and flexible lease terms are among the items offered.
If the topic were cut and dried, it would be much easier for property teams. That is not the case with assistance animal accommodation requests, however. They are filled with nuances that can make them very challenging to the untrained eye—and sometimes even to those experienced on the topic.
It’s no secret that apartment operators have boosted their levels of pet-friendliness in recent years in an effort to capture a significant subsection of renters—the pet-owning resident. But being genuinely pet-friendly goes beyond simply allowing pets.
Approximately 60% of the reasonable accommodation requests reviewed and evaluated by PetScreening do not meet the guidelines set forth by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or the Fair Housing Act.
In the pet policies of the past, breed and weight restrictions were just as common as collision insurance within an automobile policy. Essentially, all rental communities had them, and it was part of the landscape. Slowly, that mindset has begun to shift—and those eliminating these pet restrictions have reaped the benefits.
In 2023, merely allowing pets at a rental community no longer qualifies as “pet friendly.” This has been a gradual trend, naturally, and not something that just sprouted up over the past few months. The response by apartment operators, however, has been mixed.
Perhaps one of the most positive developments in the rental-housing industry over the past decade is the increased focus on pet-friendly communities. Operators understand the importance—and benefits—of better catering to pet owners and have begun to create less-rigid policies.