by Mike Shytle
There are many benefits to multifamily communities being pet-friendly, including happier residents, an improved reputation and more homes available for pets that don’t have one. But the residual effects don’t stop there.
Another major benefit is that it widens the pool of prospective residents. According to Apartments.com, more than 70% of renters own a pet, yet many of them indicated that pet-friendly housing is hard to come by.
In addition to attracting new residents, apartment operators will often experience an increase in renewal rates by becoming pet-friendly. While pet owners tend to stay in an apartment home for an average of 46 months, non-pet owners stay an average of just 18 months, according to the Foundation for Interdisciplinary Research and Education Promoting Animal Welfare. This places an average value of $63,572 on a pet-owning resident, compared to a value of $24,875 on a non-pet owner.
Less vacancy, plus increased renewal rates, equals powerful financial benefits for owners and operators.
Consider that a pet-prohibited portfolio of 1,000 apartment homes will have approximately $588,000 in additional turnaround costs and suffer a massive $10.7 million hit to its overall value. By allowing pets to reside in their communities, operators attract and retain residents, which in turn creates new revenue streams.
One way to earn additional revenue from pets could be to have a dog walking service or pet spa that pet-owning residents can use. Another way is by simply charging a small, monthly ‘pet rent’ fee based upon the pet’s track record on top of the traditional rent.
If operators sensibly relax breed and weight restrictions – and they have a way to thoroughly screen pets and pet owners before they move into their communities – they can offer a spectrum of monthly fees and pet rent. They could generate more revenue by charging fees that are not one-size-fits-all but, rather, tailored to the underlying risk presented by the individual pet and pet owner. For instance, a more rambunctious pet could have higher fees associated with it than a calmer, more tranquil pet. A puppy clearly presents more risk than a mature dog (who is potty trained), which could reasonably justify a little extra pet rent for the puppy risk until it’s more mature. Think of it as using a sliding scale to assess the appropriate fees for each pet individually, rather than across the board for all pets.
And while you certainly hope that pet owners behave well, there are fees that may be generated by way of a pet owner’s missteps. A 2020 pet policies and amenities survey conducted by PetScreening in conjunction with J Turner Research found that 71% of residents, pet owners or not, support property managers charging more fees for irresponsible pet ownership.
The fee-inducing offenses could include things such as repeatedly allowing dogs to roam off-leash, not picking up pet waste and allowing dogs to engage in excessive barking.
By completely banning pets from communities, owners are not only excluding themselves from a large subset of potential residents, but they’re also limiting their sources of revenue. Making properties pet-friendly will not only broaden the field of prospective residents interested in living in a community, but it will also provide additional financial benefits for the owner, adding to the bottom line.