Property Management

“Yes, We’re Pet Friendly” … But Are You Really?

by Vince Wong

Many apartment operators claim that their properties are pet-friendly, but renters often see things differently.

While 76% of operators identify their property as being pet-friendly, a staggering 72% of renters say that pet-friendly housing is hard to find. As these numbers seem to contradict one another, finding the cause of this disconnect is crucial to creating a community that is not just pet-friendly, but also pet-inclusive.

What’s clear is that people love pets. And pet owner or not, many people agree that pets have a place in their communities. A recent survey conducted by Michelson Found Animals and the Human Animal Bond Research Institute found that 92% of renters consider pets to be an important member of the family. 

Numerous studies have confirmed that pets provide companionship, joy and an overall improvement to one’s mental health. The human-animal bond provides benefits for people and pets alike, and that is not limited to emotional support animals. According to the survey, 93% of property owners agree that pets are important to families, and 83% of those owners believe they have positive relationships with pet-owning residents. 

But even with such a universally positive sentiment toward pets, renters indicate that communities that are truly pet-friendly remain hard to come by. And for the small sample size that qualify as genuinely pet-inclusive, 59% of renters say the housing is too expensive to obtain. Furthermore, 24% — which equates to 5.5 million renters — have been displaced or forced to move due to owning a pet, while 14% have surrendered their pet as a result of their housing situation.

How does this happen if nearly three-quarters of properties claim to be pet-friendly? Well, of the owners who say their property is pet-friendly, only 8% are actually completely restriction free. Although eliminating restrictions doesn’t work for all properties, responsibly easing restrictions will not only help bridge the gap between what owners think is pet-friendly and what renters are experiencing, but it will also generate more revenue for owners. 

Fewer than 10% of apartment damages are caused by a pet. However, pet-owning renters put down an average of $864 in pet deposits, which is well over the $190 average cost of repairs for damages resulting from a pet. 

A sizable majority of 83% of owners surveyed say that units are leased faster at their pet-friendly properties, while 79% added that they’re also easier to fill. Once a unit is occupied, residents with a pet tend to stay nearly 10 months longer than non-pet owners. And the longevity of loyal residents leads to consistent revenue for property owners.

If owners are looking to expand their market and appeal to more prospective renters, easing pet restrictions is a good place to start. Investing in pet-focused amenities will also help make the leap from a community being simply pet-friendly to being pet-inclusive. Adding a small dog park not only lets renters know that you care about them by providing more amenities, but it adds monetary value to the property, as well. Even something as simple as a dog run or dedicated area for pets to play will attract and retain more renters. 

If it is viable, lifting certain breed restrictions — which are often based on unfounded misconceptions — will open the doors to responsible pet owners who would otherwise be disqualified from living at the property. 

While the process might take some time, the disconnect between operators and pet owners can be eliminated with a better understanding of what renters are looking for in a pet-friendly community. Operators can go beyond just saying their property is pet-friendly by showing renters that they are valued members of the community, and their pets are as welcome as they are.

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