If you were to stop someone on the street, there’s a great chance that person owns a pet. Pets are not only incredibly common among US households, but those who own pets will tell you pets are also incredibly important members of their family. Since COVID-19, this belief around the importance of pets has only become a greater reality for renters as pet adoptions increased dramatically throughout the surge of the pandemic. However, the recent research done in the Pet-Inclusive Housing Initiative is showing quite a disconnect between renters and property management companies when it comes to pet-inclusive housing.
Upon surveying nearly 1,300 residents and over 550 owner/operators, 98% of pet-owning residents agreed pets are members of their family and 93% of owner/operators followed in agreement. Despite this acknowledgement, 72% of pet-owning renters say it is still an immense struggle to find housing for themselves and their pets. This major gap in perception means owner/operators might be limiting their own demand and opportunities for more revenue.
The Pet-Inclusive Housing Initiative, conducted by the Michelson Found Animals Foundation and the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), gives telling insights as to the causes of disconnect between owner/operators in rental housing and their residents as well as providing great solutions and potential ideas around how to improve pet-positive policies that appease the business as well as renters.
Misconceptions Around Pet-Inclusive Housing
Many owner/operators fear the damages pets may cause, which is one of the contributing factors behind an average of $864 in pet deposits and $600 in pet rent paid by pet-owning residents each year. On the flip side, research concludes that pet damages average at $210. On top of that, fewer than 10% of pets cause damage of any kind, meaning properties are generating incremental NOI from their pet-specific security deposits and pet rent fees.
Owner/operators also attribute concerns about insurance as a major reason for having such restrictive pet policies at their properties. Pricing for insurance on properties is determined by several factors. However, pet policies only have a small impact on insurance cost for properties compared to properties with no pet policies.
There are also insurance policies that do not restrict pets whatsoever. In fact, almost a third of owner/operators aren’t aware that such policies exist or still have misconceptions around the cost of such policies. There is ample opportunity to attract and retain more pet-owning residents by alleviating these concerns around pet damages and insurance.
The Benefits of Pet-Inclusive Housing
While many owner/operators have concerns with pet-inclusive housing, it’s also important to note the incredible benefits of implementing pet-inclusive housing. Research finds that 83% of owner/operators say vacancies are filled much faster with pet-inclusive units than pet-restrictive units.
Residents who find pet-inclusive housing stay 10 months longer on average at that property than they would at a pet-restrictive property. There is also evidence pet inclusion can also attract younger residents, who tend to be much more committed to their pets than older generations, according to research.
Also worth noting is the reality that people will move homes on behalf of their pets. Thirty-three percent of all residents surveyed said their pet was a reason they had moved in the past. Forty-one percent of Gen Z and Millennials alone have also said the same. This only further proves that by offering pet-inclusive housing, you create a great reason for residents to want to stay at your property.
Pet restrictive properties also see lost revenue from their residents. Eleven percent of renters admitted to having an unapproved pet, avoiding the pet deposits and fees. Having less restrictive policies would result in residents being more likely to pay those fees and bring in more revenue for properties.
Potential Solutions for more Pet-Inclusive Housing
For properties that are already pet inclusive or are planning to move in that direction, some recommendations emerging from the Michelson research about how you can make your pet-inclusive property rise above others are:
- Consider eliminating pet deposits and fees and count on security deposits to cover minimal damage. Entice residents with a free month of pet rent or waiving pet deposits for new residents.
- Create an easy-to-follow screening process and pet agreement.
- Formalize the number and types of pets allowed with forward-thinking, positive pet policies. Consider allowing 2 pets per unit. Remove dog breed and weight restrictions and focus on good behavior.
- Check with your insurance company for quotes and secure a policy without pet-related restrictions.
- Reduce liability and risk by requiring proof of renters insurance that covers pet damages.
- Have pet-friendly amenities: washing stations, designated pet exercise areas and pet waste bags.
Research is clear that pet-inclusive properties reap more benefits and revenue. Pets are widely known to have incredible benefits to people in their health, well-being and general quality of life. With pet ownership at an all-time high, offering pet-inclusive housing is a win-win for your business and your renters.
You can download the full Pet-Inclusive Housing Initiative Report here.
As an open property management platform, ResMan has a number of integration partners that provide pet-related solutions to help property management companies be more pet-friendly. Visit the partners page of our website to learn more.