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Pet-Tech State of The Union: What’s Next in 2022

Pet-Tech State of The Union: What’s Next in 2022
Familiar themes have emerged over the past few years as apartment operators have begun to shed antiquated pet policies. Among them: Easing breed and weight restrictions increases pet-friendliness and creates a revenue stream by appealing to more renters. Property teams should use tech resources to better track the onsite pet population. Outscoring assistance animal requests creates better accuracy and eases the burden on the onsite team. While these well-documented concepts have been supported by an abundance of data and industry studies, many are wondering what's coming next on the pet-tech front—and for apartment pet trends, in general.  While some of the 2022 pet scene pertains to new concepts and evolving renter demands, the idea of how to responsibly implement some of the existing trends also figures to be a prominent theme. Here is a look at some of the primary storylines as the year begins: Utilizing tech to expand the capabilities of associates Even when excluding the pet portion of multifamily, the industry is constantly clamoring for ways to improve efficiencies. Automation is playing a huge role as leasing teams aim to automate as many mundane tasks as possible, and self-tour options are easing the onsite burden. Additionally, artificial intelligence innovations such as chatbots are greatly assisting in the front end of the leasing process. In addition to providing value, pet-related technology should have the same objective in a hypercompetitive, low-unemployment-rate environment. That’s why pet-tech innovations will be most successful if they are rooted in function and convenience, such as platforms wit......
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Pets: Love, Marketing and Lifetime Value

Pets: Love, Marketing and Lifetime Value
The time has come for apartment operators to rethink pet policies such as traditional breed and weight restrictions. That was one of the primary points made by expert panelists during the Pets: Love, Marketing and Lifetime Value session at the 2021 Apartment Innovation and Marketing Conference (AIM). The panelists noted that by removing or reducing breed and weight restrictions, apartment operators can attract and retain more residents and boost revenue.  The need to become more pet-friendly stems from the fact that so many renters have pets and consider them indispensable members of their families, panelists noted. There are now more pets in the U.S. than children, according to the American Pet Products Association. In fact, 67% of U.S. households own a pet, and Americans spent approximately $99 billion on pets last year. Furthermore, over the course of the pandemic, an increased number of residents acquired pets.But multifamily pet policies don’t seem to be keeping up with the times, the panelists argued. “With the pandemic, the industry has taken some small steps to change, but we really have an opportunity to step back and figure out some of the paradigms holding us back from being truly pet friendly,” said Melanie Flaherty, senior vice president of marketing for Carmel Partners. “If we rethink pets and how we strategically plan policies, that will impact the bottom line.”  According to the 2021 Pet-Inclusive Housing Initiative (PIHI) report from Michelson Found Animals Foundation and the Human Animal Bond Research Institute, 76% of operators say they’re pet-friendly yet 72% of ......
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Talk Data to Me: Using Key Metrics to Improve Pet Processes

Talk Data to Me: Using Key Metrics to Improve Pet Processes
The antiquated pet policies of previous decades can be forgiven. After all, apartment operators didn’t always have a bevy of data at their fingertips to help steer them toward more intuitive property procedures.  But that’s no longer an excuse, as newfound pet data has made a compelling case for operators to overhaul their outdated, antediluvian policies in favor of much more pet-friendly measures.  Various operators at the Talk Data to Me: Pet Research to Improve NOI session at Apartmentalize 2021 discussed ways they’ve leveraged pet data to create the most pet-friendly, pet-responsible experience at their communities. Moderator John Bradford, founder and chief executive officer of PetScreening, relayed an abundance of pet metrics that underscored the reasons why it makes sense for operators to modernize their policies. For instance, the Pet-Inclusive Housing Initiative report by Michelson Found Animals and the Human Animal Bond Research Institute indicates that residents stay 21% longer in pet-friendly housing. Additionally, 83% of apartment owners say pet-friendly vacancies fill faster.  “When we see data like this, it’s our residents guiding us toward what to do,” said Angie Lombardi, vice president of marketing for The Franklin Johnston Group.  The data also shows that pet ownership isn’t going to taper anytime soon. According to the Multifamily Pet Policies and Amenities Survey released earlier this year by PetScreening and J. Turner Research, 26% of residents said they acquired a pet during the pandemic and 19% of non-pet owning residents planned to get one in 2021. As pet ownership continues to increase, many communit......
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Pet Concerns Focus on Bad Owners, Not Pets

Pet Concerns Focus on Bad Owners, Not Pets
When the debate about whether or not to allow pets in multifamily communities gets underway, a number of concerns come up. But they don’t rank the way one would think. According to the latest Multifamily Pet Policies and Amenities survey, conducted by PetScreening in partnership with J. Turner Research, the top pet-related concerns have very little to do with the pet itself, and more to do with pet owners. Nearly 23,000 participants were surveyed, and the top concerns of non-pet owners are ones that fall largely within the owners’ control. When non-pet owners were asked what their top three pet-related concerns are, it wasn’t fear, aggression or biting that topped the list. It was nuisance issues such as pet waste, excessive barking and unleashed dogs that perturb them the most. On top of the list is pet waste, with 84% of respondents saying it’s their highest concern regarding pets being permitted onsite. Barking followed at 62%, and 37% cited off-leash pets as a major concern. When it comes to biting, only 12% of respondents listed it as a concern of theirs.  Considering what the top pet concerns are, it’s no surprise that the most desired pet amenities are features that help alleviate the concerns echoed by non-pet owners. A sizable 65% of pet owners and residents planning to get a pet within the next year said that having convenient pet waste stations is most important to them. A close second on the list, mentioned by 64% of current pet owners and those pla......
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Study: Apartment Residents Not Keen on Restrictions, Believe in Consequences

Study: Apartment Residents Not Keen on Restrictions, Believe in Consequences
Conventional wisdom might suggest that pet owners and non-pet owners are divided on certain issues in the apartment world. But according to recently released survey results, they tend to agree on several key pet-related issues.  To a large degree, neither group is exceedingly passionate about instituting pet restrictions at rental properties. Both, however, agree that irresponsible pet ownership and pet misbehavior should carry consequences. That’s according to the Pet Policies and Amenities in Multifamily report, released earlier this year by PetScreening and J Turner Research.  Certainly, anecdotal examples exist when non-pet owners exhibit frustration with the pet-owning demographic, and the study examines the top complaints from pet-free residents. But that sentiment doesn’t necessarily expand into broad-scale issues. According to the survey, which features the feedback of more than 22,000 apartment renters, 53% are against breed restrictions, while 24% are pro-restriction and 23% are indifferent. The numbers are similar for weight restrictions, with 56% against them, 20% for them and 24% in the “don’t care” category.  Viewed from more of a big-picture perspective, about one in four residents support breed restrictions while one in five are in favor of weight restrictions. When pairing these non-majority, lower-than-expected percentages with the idea that most renters are in support of charging more for irresponsible pet ownership, it becomes increasingly apparent that many current pet policies could use a modern-day refresh. Survey data indicates that an overwhelming 71% of residents support charging higher pet fees for irresponsible pet ownership. This includes failure to pick up after pets and ......
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Data Integration Key to Intuitive Pet Processes

Data Integration Key to Intuitive Pet Processes
As the apartment world clamors to adopt new technologies, it is discovering that all platforms are not created equal.  The typical vetting time for new systems has been reduced in many cases, as operators have been forced to fast-track implementation during the pandemic—but a key theme is emerging nonetheless. On the broad scale, operators have become partial to systems capable of integrating into their current technology platforms.  While proprietary data systems were favored in the past, the industry is gravitating toward a data-sharing model, knowing that the ability to integrate data enhances the capabilities of the provider and operator. And yes, pet and assistance animal information is part of the mix and is often overlooked when two systems are connected.  Here are a few of the ways platforms with data-sharing capabilities are making an impact in the industry and how they can aid the quest for smoother pet and assistance animal processes: Ease of workflow  When associates are constantly toggling between systems, it is simply inefficient. The timesaving aspect alone is enough to validate an integrated platform, and the increased workflow will make associates more productive. It will also enable them to focus more prominently on key community-related tasks rather than busywork. Essentially, the lack of integration results in an uneven workday.  Data integrity  Data can be sliced in many ways, but how accurate is it? For instance, if you are trying to track the number of pets and assistance animals at a community, which residents have acknowledged pet-related policies and w......
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The Lost Revenue—And How to get it Back With New Tech

The Lost Revenue—And How to get it Back With New Tech
Mitigating revenue loss has always been a primary concern for multifamily operators. But as with everything else, the pandemic has magnified the impact of any financial shortcomings and cast an enormous spotlight on a problem that needs to be solved immediately.  Savvy apartment operators are using technology to recover lost revenue and mitigate future losses, with some accelerating their tech rollout timelines from two years to two weeks. While most of these rollouts involve PropTech such as virtual tours and remote leasing, one often overlooked concept that can quickly drive revenue is PetTech.  It is no secret that pet adoption has prominently risen during the pandemic, which provides operators with a unique opportunity to increase revenue by making their communities more friendly to pet owners. And while concepts such as reducing breed and weight restrictions aren’t rooted in technology, PetTech can help implement them responsibly.  Here are some of the ways more intuitive pet processes can help operators recover some desperately needed revenue:  Ease pet limits, weight thresholds  With pet ownership being one of the only things trending upward in the pandemic, communities should consider letting more of them into their buildings. Reasonably increasing the number of pets allowed per home is one way. Eradicating weight restrictions, as recently done by Camden and others, is another and generally involves little risk of increased damage. A recent PetFinder study indicated that only 11% of apartment communities allow large breeds, which means plenty of that market share remains. Reduce breed restrictions  Reducing or e......
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Decisions You Never Knew Data Could Help You Make: Prevalence of Multifamily Data Includes Key Pet-Related Metrics

Decisions You Never Knew Data Could Help You Make:         
Prevalence of Multifamily Data Includes Key Pet-Related Metrics
Data has never been so accessible and actionable. Yet, many apartment operators continue to rely on gut feelings to drive decisions as opposed to utilizing these valuable metrics. Part of the challenge is that many operators don’t know that this data exists. And while their instincts might have some merit in many instances, data can enhance those insights and help drive more solid, accurate decisions that genuinely move the needle.  The PropTech revolution has made it easier for apartment operators to make data-driven decisions based on rental payment history and credit worthiness. It has allowed them to precisely track the steps of the renter journey and monitor the use and performance of various smart-home and building features. For the most part, data now exists to augment any onsite process—and that includes managing and tracking pets and assistance animals.  The Assistance Animals in Housing Report, for instance, contains several metrics that can assist apartment operators in one of the most challenging pet-related processes—reasonable accommodation requests for assistance animals. The process for reviewing these requests has been established on a federal level by Fair Housing and HUD guidelines, but gaining knowledge of what to expect from requesting parties can help operators set pet and animal policies on a more local level within their communities.  Some of the key insights from the report, which is based on a subset of the over 31,000 nationwide accommodation requests submitted to PetScreening from April 2017 to June 2020, include: Of all accommodation requests, 43% were insufficient. However, less ......
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Know the Difference: Household Pets, Service Animals and ESAs

Residents bring three types of animals to apartment communities, and each has a different connotation for onsite teams.  The most common, naturally, are household pets. These are the easiest for onsite teams to screen, as the community typically has an easy-to-understand policy regarding the parameters for pets—even if it varies from community to community.  The distinction between the other two types of pets, service animals and support animals, is a bit fuzzier. Service animals must be trained to perform tasks that benefit an individual with a disability. These are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the ADA specifically limits a service animal to a dog or a miniature horse.  That's opposed to support animals, which offer emotional support, comfort, protection and companionship. This is when you’ll see residents with emotional support dogs, cats, small birds, rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, other rodents, fish, turtles, or other small, domesticated animals that are traditionally kept in the home for pleasure rather than for commercial purposes. Unlike with a service animal, the owner must prove a disability and related need.  A recent article in Student Housing Business further delineates between service animals and the various types of support animals. Knowing the differences is a solid first step for multifamily associates. Understanding the implications for community teams is quite another. Here are a few key distinguishing factors amongst pets, service animals and support animals with regard to how teams must handle each request:   A resident cannot be charged a standard pet fee for service or sup......
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Three Ways to Eliminate the Pet Loophole

Three Ways to Eliminate the Pet Loophole
Pets contribute to the aura of a rental community just as much as the rooftop deck, club-quality fitness center, resident lounge or any other amenity—perhaps more so, in the eyes of many. But managing the increasing number of furry family members is no small task for onsite teams.  Today, leasing teams are keeping track of pets that arrive when a new resident moves in, but it’s more challenging to track pets that were acquired during a resident’s stay. Convincing residents to properly register their pets with the community is another challenge.  Tech tools can help with that, and also can provide onsite teams with a snapshot of previous pet and pet owner behavior when they apply at a rental community. Here are some of the ways to close the pet loophole and create the most pet-responsible and pet-friendly experience for residents: Proper pet audits Many apartment communities believe they have their pet population fully accounted for, but oftentimes, that’s like believing there are no bears in the forest just because you don’t immediately see them. Odds are, there are more than a few unregistered pets on your property, particularly because no comprehensive screening methods were available until recently. Taking inventory of all pets at the property can be a tricky task without being invasive, but an audit has immeasurable value.  Blowing a dog whistle and seeing which apartments have barkers isn’t a good strategy, but a few ways exist to help with a pet audit. These include revisiting a resident’s pet situation at ......
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