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Room to Grow: Multifamily Operators Have Opportunities to Become More Pet-Inclusive

Room to Grow: Multifamily Operators Have Opportunities to Become More Pet-Inclusive
Over the past decade or so, the multifamily industry has undeniably become more pet-friendly. Go to industry conferences, and you'll see pet-focused sessions with panelists who have reaped the benefits of relaxing or even eliminating weight and breed restrictions. Visit apartment communities, and you'll likely see an array of amenities – such as fenced dog parks and pet-washing stations – designed to attract and retain pet-owning residents. New data validates these general observations. According to the 2021 Pet-Inclusive Housing Initiative Report, 76% of owner/operators identify their properties as allowing some pets, which reflects a willingness to accommodate pets by a large majority of property owners and operators. But the same report also shows that residents often don't find rental housing as pet-inclusive as they'd like it to be. For example, according to the PIHI report: 72% of surveyed residents say pet-friendly housing is hard to find. 59% say pet-friendly housing is too expensive. 24% say their pet has been a reason for needing to move. 14% have surrendered their pet as a result of their housing situation. Clearly, apartment owners and operators have to be careful and strategic when crafting their pet policies. They have to strike the right balance of welcoming pet-owning residents with  helping non pet-owners feel comfortable, as well as protecting the community’s assets. However, the PIHI report provides a solid general blueprint for how multifamily communities can become more pet inclusive in ways that drive good business results. Among its recommendations for operators: Consider reducing or eliminating dog w......
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"Oh, (pit) bull..."

John Cotton Dana said that “One who dares to teach must never cease to learn” and I do subscribe to that philosophy, particularly as folks in our industry reach out to me for information and (non-legal) advice on fair housing.  I take that as a compliment and as a responsibility.  While you may not know John Cotton Dana, you very well may know Terry Kitay and Kathi Williams, one a goddess and one a guru, in the area of fair housing information and legal representation (they both can put “Esquire” after their names).  And it was from them (at their excellent session - along with Doug Chasick - at the NAA 2013 Education Conference & Exposition) that I learned two more things about pit bulls that you probably should know. 1.     Some of you have been denying pit bulls as service animals when your insurance policy does not cover you for their actions, or if your insurer suggests that your coverage will be dropped if you allow pit bulls, even those assisting people with disabilities (PWDs), at your community.  After all, losing insurance does not seem reasonable related to an accommodation for a PWD.  However, Ms. Kitay advised that what is required of you is to make a reasonable inquiry with other insurers to see if the same terms and conditions are in place, or whether you can in fact obtain similarly priced insurance with coverage that includes liability for having pit bulls as service animals.   2.     While often you will he......
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That Bites!

Those of us who teach (and yes, preach) about fair housing are regularly and routinely asked “Do we have to take restricted breeds as service animals?”  That question is never easy to answer (at least not easy for me), since State laws and various court cases are not consistent on this topic and issue. And let’s be honest – the question is usually a paraphrase of “Do we have to take pit bulls?”  (Right or wrong, when we hear on the news that tragically a child has been mauled or killed by a dog, we usually do not wonder if the canine involved is a Peek-a-poo.)   Well, now the question will be easier for me answer when asked, but you probably won’t like the answer.  And continuing with the “let’s be honest” theme here, I will admit that I don’t like the answer that I will be giving.  This is one of the (not very often) times that I disagree with what HUD is saying.      Recently, on April 25, 2013 to be exact, HUD issued a notice about service animals, updating and clarifying some of the issues that relate to integrating service animals into the multifamily housing environment.  Included in that notice was a discussion about limitations.  Here goes, directly cut-and-pasted from HUD’s document: Breed, size, and weight limitations may not be applied to an assistance animal. A determination that an assistance animal poses a direct threat of harm to others or would cause substantial physical damage to the property of others ......
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