The question of whether to have a no-pet policy versus being a pet-friendly residence is an age-old question for most landlords. But in recent years, with the emergence and soaring popularity of Emotional Support Animals (ESAs), the question is no longer yes or no to being pet-friendly, but when? ESAs are protected by the Fair Housing Act, and individuals with ESAs may request reasonable accommodations to waive a “no pet policy.” Interestingly enough, the number of reports over the recent years regarding the surge of fake ESA letters has increased dramatically, making it a challenge to differentiate legitimate ESAs from fraudulent ESAs.
Some may ask, what is the point of having a pet-friendly policy? And, are there any downsides to transitioning to one? Let us help answer some of these common questions and discuss both the challenges and benefits that make it a decision worth considering.
Challenges of transitioning to a pet-friendly policy
As with any change, some adjustments need to be made, and these are the most common points of concern many landlords face when making the transition:
- Cost of potential renovations. Making your apartment pet-proof is probably the most challenging when making the transition. Changing flooring, allocating areas for pet use, and being conscious of the type of carpeting to buy equals a significant adjustment. But, in the long run, the numbers have proven that making your space pet-friendly and pet-proof actually can increase your revenue.
- Time, paperwork, and process change. Although the initial effort to adjust your processes may seem time-consuming and costly, it’s a great step to initiate additional revenue. Putting in the time to set up strong pet policies, ensure you are meeting your tenant’s expectations, as well as having a clear understanding of the related pet fees, waste management practices, and maintenance of pet damage can help make the tenant-landlord relationship that much better.
- Disgruntled non-pet owners. This goes hand in hand with the previous point. Setting up a clear pet policy on what areas are common areas for everyone, where pets are allowed, and setting clear animal expectations such as proper pet waste management, noise, and damage around the premise are all ways to mitigate animal-related complaints.
Going Pet Friendly - What’s in it for you?
As a landlord, you need to balance giving your tenants the best living experience possible as well as making sure that you are maximizing profits. Here are the biggest reasons why you should consider going pet-friendly today:
Larger tenant pool. As working from home becomes the norm, more and more people opt to become pet owners. According to a 2021-22 survey by American Pet Products Association (APPA), an estimated 23 million households added a pet during the pandemic. This means that going pet-friendly opens up your business to a larger prospective tenant pool.
Lower vacancy and turnover rates. Tenants with pets tend to rent longer. Finding the right apartment that's good for them and their pet can be challenging, meaning once they’ve found the accommodations that work for them, they will stay.
Pet-related charges. Depending on state laws, landlords are allowed to charge specific pet-related charges, either in pet fees, pet deposits, and/or pet rent. These can be upfront charges for each pet they have, for maintenance of on-site pet accommodations, or deposits that you are entitled to use in the event of pet-related damage and repair costs.
Fewer unauthorized pets. The number of ESAs has increased dramatically, meaning that you might already be housing a large number of animals without the proper documentation to protect your property from damage, animal misbehavior, or tenant complaints. While ESAs help thousands of people that need them, there are thousands of people purchasing fraudulent ESA letters as a loophole to live anywhere and/or to avoid paying pet fees, deposits, or rents. Having a good system to properly vet assistance animal requests can make all of the difference when it comes to the proper management of the animals on your premise.
Happy tenants. The past few years have allowed people to take a hard look into their mental health. People are more aware of their needs and animals play a significant role in that. From helping during times of stress, providing companionship, and undoubtedly making spaces feel more like home, allowing pets can lead to happier tenants.
Transitioning can seem like a lot of work. But the opportunity for additional income, longer-term residents, and overall happiness make this decision something to consider.
Curious what the numbers might look like at your rental? Give us a call! At OurPetPolicy, we are here to help you every step of the way. We offer resources to help build you a strong pet-friendly policy, walk through the potential savings specific to your portfolio, provide a thorough pet-management solution, and we take on the responsibility of verifying all ESA and Service Animal letters submitted with requests at your property, in order to eliminate fraud. Let us help you unleash your pawsibilities.