Apartment Living BlogFair Housing › 🐾 Unleashing a Win-Win Pet Paw-licy at Your Apartment Community

Dear Fair Housing Expert,

 

I’ve been a property manager for many years and our property doesn’t allow pets. But, we may be missing out on some key business if we don’t unleash a pet policy. Do you have any suggestions as to how we can develop a pet-friendly policy that protects our property from damages and liabilities but is also favorable for pet owners?

-Animal-Unaware

 

Dear Animal-Unaware,

 

Like you, I’ve been in the housing industry for years and, yes, there’s more to animals in apartments than you’ve likely ever considered. If you open your doors to pets, you could substantially increase your marketability as renters with pets makes up a large chunk of the market share. While I can relate to the challenges of accepting animals, I can tell you that designing a solid pet policy with clear guidelines will minimize those concerns.

 

 

According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA) National Pet Owners Survey, 68% of U.S. households own a pet – 89 million dogs and 94 million cats to be exact. Businesses are embracing pets at hotels, restaurants, coffee shops and some areas like Seattle have recently banned pet rent altogether. No doubt about it, Americans love their pets and it behooves the apartment industry to consider accepting them rather than alienate a large portion of potential renters.

 

Technically speaking, federal fair housing law requires housing providers to consider and often accommodate service and assistance animals on a case-by-case basis. It’s important to understand the difference and how to stay in compliance with the law.

 

When developing guidance around accepting pets into your community, you must recognize realistic expectations, communicate them clearly in your pet policy, and enforce them consistently. Document requirements like size, type, breed, weight of animal, number allowed per unit, plus deposits and fees and clearly note the types of animals that are prohibited as well. Also, be clear about requirements and documentation related to service animals.

 

Keeping too short a leash – that is, too many restrictions in your policy – may put off would-be renters. Create a welcoming environment and practice proper etiquette with your residents’ critters to reinforce your customer service while distinguishing your property in the marketplace by showing you care.

 

Saying hello and being friendly to pets goes a long way as well as providing pet-friendly amenities like waste stations with disposable bags and even welcoming them with pet products that have your logo on it like leashes, chew toys or plastic bowls. Take a look at the Apartment Living blog for even more pet-friendly tips and trends that will enrich their experience.

 

Beyond greeting resident critters, understanding the basics of critter communications can help your team maintain on-the-job safety. Taking in their stance, noting their level of eye contact coupled with a read of the rest of their body language can signal to you if now is a good time to approach or not and guide you in adjusting your own gestures to be the least threatening as possible.

 

 

Including animals in your community’s disaster preparedness plan also strengthens your customer service efforts and builds rapport while minimizing logistical nightmares you may face. Plus, imagine how appreciative residents will be to see that you take precautionary steps for their animal in the event of an emergency.

 

All in all, welcoming animals into your community has many advantages, enhances your marketability, and potentially increases your occupancy rates. Any disadvantages can be offset with clear policies and expectations designed to mitigate damages or liability. If you need help adopting such policies, review your state regulations and consult with your attorney.

 

Tune in to Jo’s Tail Talk webinar on August 31, 2017 at 10 am PT. ForRent readers, use discount code: JB25 for $25 off registration!

 

Jo Becker, a Realtor®-turned-fair housing advocate, was licensed for eight years before joining a statewide fair housing nonprofit where she trained over 10,000 individuals in 10 years with consistently rave reviews. Her educational sessions focus on assistance animals related to fair housing laws and related topics for the multifamily industry.

 

Jo has also studied emergency preparedness and disaster response with a focus on animals since 2005.  She is an Oregon-based speaker and writer who takes an entertaining, personable approach to educating audiences and readers.

 

Regardless of topic or industry, Jo’s aim is to inform, empower, and inspire with historical and relatable context, understandable concepts, and bottom line considerations. Connect with Jo at jobecker.weebly.com.

Jo Becker

About

Jo Becker, A Realtor®-turned-fair housing advocate, was licensed for eight years before joining a statewide fair housing nonprofit where she trained over 10,000 individuals in 10 years to consistently rave reviews. She focused on making the law accessible to housing providers and, today, concentrates on assistance animals and other critter-related topics. Jo has also studied emergency preparedness and disaster response with a focus on animals since 2005. She is an Oregon-based speaker and writer who takes an entertaining, personable approach to educating audiences and readers. Regardless of topic or industry, Jo’s aim is to inform, empower, and inspire with historical and relatable context, understandable concepts, and bottom line considerations. Visit Jo’s web site: http://jobecker.weebly.com/housing-industry.html

Comments

  1. Ms. Sydney Holland says:

    Hello,
    I would suggest that you set a weight limit as well as breed. Also, charge a 1 time pet fee that will equal the amount it cost to replace the carpet rather than a smaller pet deposit and or a monthly fee.

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