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Should Student Housing Properties Be Pet-Friendly?

Should Student Housing Properties Be Pet-Friendly?

If you were to ask any apartment hunter with a pet about their experiences trying to find a pet-friendly accommodation, chances are they’ll tell you how difficult it can be to find rentals that accept pets.


Apartment searching for pet owners can be particularly difficult. With so many people owning pets, one would assume that rental property owners would be more inclined to cater to tenants with pets, but this often isn’t the case. Rentals that do not allow pets can actually be eliminating a huge amount of potential renters.

For example, let’s look at the millennial renter demographic. It’s been reported by Appfolio that approximately 76%+ of millennials own either cats or dogs. This means that rentals which prohibit pets are automatically eliminating over ¾ of the tenant pool right off the bat. This leaves approximately 24% of eligible millennial renters for those accommodations to compete for. It becomes clear that no-pet policies can actually work against landlords and property managers when it comes to leasing.


A recent survey found that 83% of respondents who were pet owners stated they found it difficult to find a pet-friendly rental and 56% reported having not been able to secure an apartment, due to a no-pets policy. In total, 21% of respondents reported that they had to give away a pet in order to find a rental accommodation..

Many jurisdictions have ruled that it is legal for landlords to prohibit pets from inhabiting a rental unit. There are only a few places where pet owners have the law on their side, such as Ontario, Canada. Ontario ruled that no-pet lease clauses are not legally binding and cannot be enforced (except in very specific cases, like a condo with a building-wide pet ban). It is worth noting that there are other exceptions. For example, a landlord can make a tenant move out or get rid of their animal if it causes allergic reactions to other tenants. Despite no-pets clauses being unenforceable in Ontario, they are still quite common in lease agreements. Many renters are also unaware that it’s actually not legal, in most cases.


Even when the law does allow restrictive pet policies, landlord and property managers should consider the benefits of adopting more flexible policies. Not only will allowing pets increase the tenant pool size, but it could also create a new revenue stream. Generally speaking, the following three types of fees and deposits are associated with pets in rental accommodations.


1. Pet Rent
This is a relatively new trend that involves pet owners paying a monthly rent (often somewhere between $10 - $50/month). This pet rent is non-refundable and is tacked onto the tenant’s monthly rent. In most cases, this is also on a per-pet basis; meaning that if a tenant has multiple pets, they could be paying more.

2. Pet Deposit
A pet deposit, unlike pet rent, is a one-time charge that is refundable at the end of the lease term, given there is no damage to the rental caused by the pet. These deposits are often at least a few hundred dollars and often vary according to the type of the pet.

3. Pet Fee
A pet fee is similar to a pet deposit, but it is a one-time charge that is non-refundable. A pet fee may be required in addition to a pet deposit (and sometimes in addition to pet rent!). It’s important to note that in some provinces and states, it is illegal to charge non-refundable pet fees.


If pet deposits and fees aren’t enough, some landlords have gone one step further and utilized what is known as a pet interview. In the survey mentioned above, 14% of respondents said they participated in a pet interview with their landlord.

To conclude, no-pet policies can be troublesome for renters and also pose threats to limiting the amount of eligible tenants for landlords and property managers.

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This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Did I miss your opinion - do YOU think Student Housing properties should be pet friendly? When I hear over and over that my student residents have not returned a phone call or email about an important matter because they are "too busy" to do so, I can tell you that perhaps most student renters are too busy to take care of a pet properly. Some do a great job, but those are usually the ones who are bringing their family pet with them, not the ones who adopt along the way during their 5-year college career. I always remind them when they call about the pet policy that pets are a lot of work and more than a one-week commitment, plus they cost money: money for vet checks, food, vaccinations, toys, grooming (for dogs) and cats need alternative scratching posts, other than my door frames and your couch. Happily most take my recommendation to wait a few days (after the first couple of home football game weekends/parties) before they run out to adopt a pet.

  Mindy Sharp
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Hi Mindy,

With over 76% of student renters owning pets it would be a very wise decision to either allow pets or have a flexible pet policy. Student housing properties that have strict no-pet policies are doing themselves somewhat of a disservice when it comes to shrinking the potential tenant pool.

That being said you raise some valid points about pet ownership, but we would hope that student renters understand the amount of care and time required to nurture pets.

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

I have two children who are in college, I pay for their rent. There is no way I would agree to pay a Pet rent for my kids. We are already under tremendous amounts of educational loan and our goal is to see how we can save money wherever possible.

  Roger Aher

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