Apartment operators who have taken steps to responsibly lessen pet-related restrictions are experiencing more than just the positive benefit of an increase in demand at their communities. Many are experiencing an increase in pet-related revenue, as well.
This additional revenue, naturally, is particularly timely as operators aim to recover lost revenue due to the pandemic. The ever-growing segment of pet owners comprises a large share of the apartment market, yet many communities have pet policies that do not accommodate some of their unique needs.
Whether they possess a larger pet, a young one, a perceived dangerous breed or simply more than the community will allow, pet-owners face an abundance of challenges when searching for a home that will accommodate their furry friends. While not advocating that communities allow residents to have nine large dogs, six cats and a miniature donkey in their homes, some subtle adjustments to pet policies can lead to a pronounced uptick in revenue.
Camden, for instance, helped establish an emerging standard in 2019 by eliminating weight restrictions. Leon Capital is among the many that has worked to reduce or eliminate breed restrictions. Here is a look at four common restrictions and cases for the multifamily world to responsibly reduce them:
The prevailing conception is that larger animals cause more damage. That is not always the case, and in fact, no significant data exists to support that assertion. Great Danes, Border Collies, Labrador Retrievers and Greyhounds, for instance, are generally great house pets and often cause no stress on a home due to their lower-energy demeanors. Camden had previously set a weight limit of 60 pounds but decided to eradicate weight restrictions entirely, which makes the company’s apartment homes available and attractive to a new segment of renters.
This can be a polarizing topic, but apartment operators are starting to adapt. Rather than evaluating a pet based on the characteristics of its breed, many are starting to evaluate each animal on an individual basis. A pet’s resume can provide important historical context to demonstrate its good behavior. As an added bonus, fewer residents will aim to sneak in previously restricted breeds under the guise of a service or emotional support animal. “We’ve experienced an uptick in revenue since easing breed restrictions,” said Crystal Martin, director of multifamily operations for Leon Capital. “And we find pet-owning residents are more transparent, as well.”
No, a cat can’t be denied access to an apartment community because she’s too old. Age restrictions are less common, but typically pertain to puppies, kittens and other youngsters. The perception is that these pets are less likely to be potty trained and are still teething, so the propensity for carpet or apartment damage is greater. Some apartment communities won’t let pets younger than 1 year old into their homes. Rather than impose these restrictions and potentially lose out on these residents, communities can tailor pet policies to charge a slight increase in pet rent for younger animals. Residents can formally also agree to crate-train these pets.
Some apartment communities allow one pet, others two. Seldom do they allow three or more. Again, while not advocating for property teams to allow an entire farm into a home, they can certainly consider allowing city limits to guide their policies. Pet owners generally aren’t averse to paying fees for each animal, and many would happily do so to have another pet. The Pet-Inclusive Housing Initiative, a research and resource development initiative that promotes access to the joy of pets, 33% of pet owners in restricted pet-friendly housing said they would get another pet if restrictions were lifted. In a time when the multifamily industry is fervently seeking to recover lost revenue, perhaps it’s time to let them do so.
Pet restrictions were initially constructed around a 1990s apartment environment. While many of those original policies exist today, it’s time to reevaluate them and develop policies for the modern renter and pet owner. Doing so would certainly create happier residents while creating the added bonus of boosting revenue.