Business textbooks teach that acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing one. The same rule of thumb applies to tenants at rental properties. Poor resident retention rates can have a significant impact on the financial performance and long-term success of your property. As a result, it’s important to implement strategies that can not only attract tenants but encourage them to stay long term.
This is where a pet-friendly housing policy comes in. Pet ownership continues to grow in the US, especially among younger generations. As a result, a pet-friendly policy will grant you instant access to a wider tenant application pool. Pet ownership is also often an indicator of stability and responsibility, meaning that these tenants will be higher quality as well.
If you’re convinced that the benefits of a pet-friendly policy can work for your property, here are some key items to consider.
Understand the Pet Policy Landscape
Understanding the pet policy landscape is crucial to effectively manage existing animals on property and ensure compliance with state and local regulations.
Additionally, keeping up with industry trends and the preferences of your local market can help you stay competitive and attract tenants who are looking for pet-friendly housing options.
When you’re ready to get serious about a pet policy, you’ll want to look to implement best practices, such as offering a pet guarantee. This can provide added security for both you and your tenants while also mitigating potential property damage. Another best practice is to charge pet rent and/or deposits, which can help to offset wear and tear and the costs of any pet-related services.
Implementing a Pet Policy
When you start writing your policy, there are some important considerations to take into account. For example, you’ll need to determine if any size or breed restrictions will apply. By determining which types of pets are allowed, you can ensure that your property is protected against potential damage caused by larger or more aggressive breeds.
Next, you'll want to set pet fees and deposits. These can include an initial pet deposit as well as ongoing pet rent. Pet deposits can be used to cover any damages, while pet rent can help offset costs associated with wear and tear. Once the policy is finalized, it’s important to communicate it to both current and prospective residents. This can be done through a pet addendum to the lease agreement and by having tenants read and sign off on the new rules.
Marketing Your Pet-Friendly Policy
Permitting pets will instantly attract new tenants, but you need to invest in getting the word out. On your website and in marketing materials, be sure to highlight pet-specific benefits of your property. This can include things like a private yard, dedicated pet washing area, and nearby pet-friendly parks. Additional amenities such as on-site pet grooming services, dog walkers, or dog sitters can also help make your property stand out to potential tenants who are looking for a comfortable place for their furry friends.
If you have the resources, it’ll also be wise to invest in (and market) a community atmosphere around pets. This can include community events or activities that pet owners can participate in, such as dog-walking groups or pet-themed social events. Not only can this help to create a sense of community and camaraderie among pet owners, but they’ll also be more likely to stay long term.
Managing Pets at Your Property
Once your pet policy is in place, enforcement is key. This includes enforcing size and breed restrictions as well as requiring payment for pet fees and deposits.
Strict enforcement ensures that your property is protected against damage caused by pets and that all tenants are aware of their responsibilities.
By the same token, it’s also crucial to be proactive about handling pet-related complaints and disputes. This can include addressing concerns about noise and pet waste and stepping in to mediate disputes between pet owners and non-pet owners. By being proactive, you can resolve issues before they become major problems and maintain a positive living environment for all tenants.
Utilize a Pet Management Software Solution
Managing pets at your rental property can be a complex task, and it can become overwhelming as the number of pet-owning tenants increases. As a result, landlords and property managers are turning to pet management software as a way to streamline processes and ensure compliance with laws and regulations.
Before settling on a solution, be sure to research the features that each provides. Most pet management software can help automate tasks such as tracking the number and type of pets at your property. Other solutions, such as OurPetPolicy, even go as far as verifying emotional support animals for you, which is an important step to ensure compliance with fair housing laws. Pet management software can even help set up lawyer-vetted pet policies and provide you with documentation such pet addendums.
Implementing a pet-friendly policy at your rental property can have a significant impact on resident retention rates and the long-term success of your business. As pet ownership continues to grow in the US, a pet-friendly policy can help attract a wider tenant application pool and higher-quality residents who are more likely to stay for many years.
To implement a successful pet-friendly policy, it's important to understand the pet policy landscape, implement best practices, such as offering a pet guarantee, and set pet fees and deposits. Additionally, marketing your pet-friendly policy and actively managing pets at your property is key to ensuring a harmonious living environment for both pet-owning and non-pet-owning tenants. Once a policy is in place, software solutions such as OurPetPolicy are vital to properly record all resident pets in one place and verify appropriate documentation.
If you’re interested in learning more about how OurPetPolicy can help support your on-property pet program, feel free to contact us today. A member of our team will be happy to share additional information.