by Mike Shytle
When apartment communities relax breed and weight restrictions, the immediate reactions center upon what it means to current and future residents. Most notably, it means more pets will be accepted at move-in and existing residents have fewer restrictions when obtaining a new pet.
But while taking steps to reduce these restrictions is definitely a resident-friendly measure, the benefits are not solely resident-centric. The community can benefit from a business standpoint, as well.
For starters, by opening doors to commonly restricted breeds and pets that exceed a specific weight and size threshold, rental communities are widening the pool of potential residents. The family with the Great Dane or the young couple with the Doberman now can consider living there since their pets will be able to accompany them. A wider pool of residents in itself is a revenue-driver.
Additionally, reducing breed restrictions means fewer residents will attempt to sneak their pets into the community under the guise of an assistance animal, such as an ESA. Many of these residents aren’t trying to circumvent the system for financial reasons, but solely so their pet can live with them. They are ready to pay regular pet fees and rent, and by lifting restrictions, the community recovers this rightful income.
Easing restrictions is also not as polarizing a topic as it may seem. Contrary to popular belief, residents are not ultra-passionate about wanting breed restrictions. According to the Pet Policies and Amenities in Multifamily Survey by PetScreening and J Turner Research, only 24% of residents are in favor of breed restrictions while 53% oppose them and 23% are ambivalent. Only 20% are in favor of weight restrictions.
But here’s the caveat: easing restrictions isn’t a snap-your-fingers process. It requires a measured approach, and it’s highly recommended that a community maintain a high level of control over which pets are permitted at a property. Haphazardly allowing every pet without properly screening them can create just as many headaches as benefits.
When easing restrictions, property teams should always consider the comfort level of non-pet owning residents, as well. Just as pet-free residents don’t like it if the neighbor’s dog leaves pet waste on their doormat, they also do not want to feel uncomfortable around potentially disruptive pets. While pet waste (84%) and barking (63%) are predictably the most noted concerns for non-pet-owning residents according to the survey, off-leash instances (37%) ranked third.
That’s one of the many reasons forward-thinking operators are soliciting help when easing restrictions. Tech tools are available to screen pets and their owners on an individual basis, based on criteria such as their behavior history, to determine the risk level of allowing them on the property. This constitutes a much more innovative evaluation process compared to blanket restrictions based on a pet’s preexisting characteristics.
Tech tools can also assist property teams to better track their community’s pet and assistance animal population, which helps eliminate unauthorized pets and animals while also ensuring the community is securing rightful pet-related revenue.
To be clear, easing breed and weight restrictions is a significant step, but it’s one being considered by an increasing number of operators. The transition will undoubtedly go much smoother if done with a diligent approach.
Categories: Property Management, Thought Leadership
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