Property Management

Vanquishing the Myths on Pet Size Restrictions

by Vince Wong

At many apartment communities, rules pertaining to pet size are written as clearly as the “no parking” restrictions in handicapped spaces. But unlike the latter, the pet-size restrictions don’t make very much sense. 

The perception is that larger breeds will inherently cause more damage, but no substantial evidence supports that notion. In fact, many large breeds are of the “low energy” variety and make for wonderful house pets. Even those known to energy bursts, such as the Great Dane or Labrador, are often great apartment dogs. 

Yet the average weight restriction for dogs in the rental-housing world is 45 pounds—and some communities go as low as 25 pounds—which excludes many furry friends from being able to live with their owners. 

Fortunately, many apartment operators are starting to eradicate size/weight restrictions, but it is far from widespread. Credit is due to Camden, which is believed to be the first large-scale operator to officially eliminate weight restrictions for pets. The company, which previously had a weight limit of 60 pounds, shed weight restrictions at most of its communities in 2019. As an operator of more than 56,000 apartment homes, it was a significant step for the industry. 

Since then, other smaller and midsize operators have followed suit. But size restrictions haven’t been vanquished to an extent that pet owners feel confident that most properties will be accepting of their larger pet. Here are some of the gray areas surrounding breed restrictions and why we believe it makes sense to eliminate them. 

Distinction between size and breed

We recently explored the myths surrounding breed restrictions, and while they are distinct topics, some carryover exists. That’s because some breeds are on the restricted list simply because they are usually above 45 pounds, so it’s more of a size thing than a perceived aggression thing. Without getting into the breed-restriction conversation here, we believe that placing breeds on a restricted list simply due to size is an antiquated practice that should be reevaluated. 

Propensity for damage

Some proponents of large breeds often argue that small dogs cause more damage. We don’t necessarily subscribe to that idea because that can create the reverse perception, that small pets aren’t good home dwellers. Additionally, it’s difficult to quantify. To get a true reading, data would have to be gleaned only from rental properties that accept both. We’re still waiting for a trusted study or data source for that metric. 

Bottom line

Sure, pets will occasionally cause damage. But so will vendors and residents. We believe the benefits of allowing large-breed pets will outweigh any costs incurred by damage, most of which are picked up by residents anyway. The benefits include increased opportunities for pet revenue, a larger pool of residents to choose from and longer average stays. The Pet-Inclusive Housing Initiative, a research and resource development initiative that promotes access to the joy of pets, shows resident’s in pet-friendly housing stay an average of 21% longer than those in non-pet-friendly rental properties. 

As modern-day pet policies undergo a metamorphosis, some topics inspire long conversations. Pet size restrictions should not be one of those. It should be the first restriction to be eliminated for rental properties that still have it as a part of their policies. 

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