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Is This Assistance Animal Legit?

Is This Assistance Animal Legit?
As more and more communities allow pets onsite, most operators are seeing an uptick in assistance animal accommodation requests. It’s no secret that there are bad actors trying to pass their pets off as assistance animals to circumvent pet fees and restrictions. This is why having a thorough and consistent review process of each accommodation request is paramount. In over 100,000 reasonable accommodations requests already reviewed by PetScreening, nearly 60% were returned to the animal owner as insufficient. In other words, the accommodation request did not meet HUD’s 2020 Assistance Animal Notice guidelines. This is often due to documentation that is missing or contains incomplete information, is lacking specificity, has out-dated documentation and a variety of less common factors.  It’s important to note that when a request is deemed insufficient, that definitely doesn’t always equate to fraud -- although there are a few tell-tale signs to look for when determining the legitimacy of such requests. For instance: If a healthcare provider questions the validity of his/her signature If the date on the supporting documentation appears to have been altered If a name in the supporting documentation appears to have inconsistencies  In the event that you encounter any of these “ifs” or other indicators that seem questionable during your review of an assistance animal request, additional expertise and diligence during the review process is likely warranted. Fraud is a very serious matter and, if suspected, you should navigate this cautiously and carefully. It is well within your rights to seek additional information during the ......
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Data Suggests an Increase of Pet Owners at Apartment Communities

Data Suggests an Increase of Pet Owners at Apartment Communities
Many apartment operators have worked diligently to improve their pet-friendliness levels. And if pet friendliness wasn’t already a primary focus, it definitely should be now.  New data indicates that the well-documented spike in pet adoption during the pandemic has made an impact in the apartment world. A recent Pet Policies and Amenities Survey, featuring more than 22,000 apartment and student-housing renters, indicated that 26% of the pet-owning residents acquired a pet during the pandemic. The percentage climbs to 39% when factoring student renters only. The study, compiled by PetScreening in conjunction with J Turner Research, also found that 20% of non-pet owners plan to get one in 2021. Pet-friendliness was already a deterministic factor for many renters and the number continues to climb. That puts the onus on apartment operators to adjust their pet policies to keep pace with the rising contingent of pet owners and their increased expectations.  While many operators have already adjusted policies with the modern-day pet owner in mind, here are some recommended modifications that will boost a community’s level of pet friendliness:  Increase pet amenities and services Many new developments are incorporating dog runs, pet-wash stations and pet spas into the blueprint. But not all communities have that luxury and many don’t have an abundance of space that can be converted to large-scale pet parks. Those communities can still exhibit pet-friendliness by hosting pet contests, providing literature detailing the closest pet parks and vets in the area, and by offering pet concierge services through third parties.  Recon......
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Vanquishing the Myths on Pet Size Restrictions

Vanquishing the Myths on Pet Size Restrictions
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 ......
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Pet Policy Keepers and Dumpers

Pet Policy Keepers and Dumpers
Like nearly everything in an increasingly digital world, rental pet policies are in need of a refresh.  Many pet policies in the apartment world are outdated and based on logic from a previous era, when residents viewed pet-friendliness as a luxury rather than a prerequisite, and before advanced tech tools were available to make life easier for onsite teams. Some pet policies are worth keeping while others should be dumped and can go the way of the dial-up modem. Here is a look at some of the primary examples from each side: Pet Policy Keepers Pet Fees, Pet Deposits and Pet Rent: Residents understand that additional fees come with the pet-friendly territory for apartments. Most residents won’t balk at paying a premium to have their four-legged companion in their rental home, aware that the risk for damage is greater. For apartment communities, pet-friendliness equates to ancillary income opportunities, generally in the form of monthly pet rent, non-refundable pet fees and/or refundable pet deposits.  It’s noteworthy that some apartment operators are veering away from an initial refundable pet deposit and moving toward a non-refundable pet fee. They realize that most pets come with risk of damage and want to recoup some of the costs upfront. Some are even innovating their traditional pet rent (see ‘Flat Rate Pet Rent’ below). Other operators are instituting something of a “resort fee” model, often utilized by hotels. This includes one all-encompassing recurring fee rather than separate bills for utilities, trash, pet fees and other community-related costs. This approa......
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Best Way To Attract Dog Owners To Your Property

A little over 70% of the rental market now comes with dogs in tow. This trend is not letting up anytime soon.  If you want to be competitive in the marketplace, you might consider making adjustments to your properties’ common areas. It might also, be a smart move to update some of your units amenities. Open yourself up to opportunities by installing and/or offering dog friendly units.  It’ll offer you a competitive edge in attracting new renters, instead of limiting your potential lessees. Here are some ideas to help you become a dog friendly rental location.  1)           If your property has a laundry room, you can consider putting in a washbasin on the floor where your residents can wash their dogs.  There are companies out there now which make specific pet-friendly wash basins which are easy to maintain. They are designed to capture any loose pet hair before it goes in down the drain. 2)            When you are turning your units, consider flooring which would be most suitable for a dog.  Hard surface flooring is especially favorable. 3)            Think about your open areas, and converting them into dog runs. You could fence in the area, and create a nice place for dogs to play and exercise. Manufactures have developed artificial grass specifically for this purpose. Be sure to have water always available for tired pooches on hand afterwards. 4)            Consider creating a partnership with a Dog Daycare facility. This could include, but not limited to drop off and pick up at res......
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Do We Need to Re-Think Breeds in Pet Policies?

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From the time I was a little girl, I have loved animals.  What I have learned through the years is that badly behaved animals are often a by-product of badly behaved owners.  For those of you who are hard and fast “Restrict-the-Breeds” pet policy lovers, please bear with me and read along.  I have a legal reason for raising this subject.

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