Should You Become Pet Friendly?

There are two interesting and oppositional trends in rental housing markets across the country. I began researching this somewhat in earnest after I noticed something on Craigslist while looking for rental properties in Saint Louis. Now, according to the Humane Society of the United States, 164 million households in the US have at least one pet. Of those, roughly 83 million people own at least one dog, 95 million own a cat, and even though this sounds like a lot, there are still yet 3-4 million shelter euthanizations a year.

We happen to be one of the “combination” households: both dogs and cats. So, when we look for rental housing, this is what we hope to see.

Pet Friendly
Well, actually, 3-4 bedrooms and at least 1.5 baths, but let’s not split hairs, here.


According to a Firepaw Inc study, however, we’re probably not going to see very many options, nor are other people who are looking for pet-friendly housing. All 164 million of us. While half of the rental properties in the US are pet-friendly, only 9% do so without significant restrictions that exclude the greater portion of the pet loving populace. As a matter of fact, 82% of all renters with pets indicated that they had trouble finding rental properties that would allow them to have their pets.


More than that, though, this survey did reveal some significant advantages to landlords or property owners allowing pets. It’s certainly understandable why many landlords are wary of allowing pets., though absolutely hysterical displays many of them.

Note that steam cleaner, please. You can't judge a pet owner for having a pet: check the references before you write someone off.
Note that steam cleaner, please. You can’t judge a pet owner for having a pet: check the references before you write someone off.



However, this is also very limiting in terms of making the most of your rental property investment. The numbers just do not lie: when you exclude or make things very difficult for pet owners, you leave out a huge segment of the renting population. Most prospects polled in relation to rental searches said that even if a listing said “negotiable” on pets: they would give it a pass. What you do when you do not list Pet Friendly properties is essentially, inviting 10 people to an open house and then turning 7 of them away.


Now, back to the advantages of being a pet friendly property. The first is the most obvious: the non refundable pet fee. This is generally acceptable because it’s a given that you may have to deal with a bit more additional wear and tear. It is not a deposit. By most state laws, you have to return a deposit, whereas, a pet fee, you do not. The fee is important, and you can explain that it is both for the potential damage but also, the additional insurance that is sometimes needed in pet friendly rentals. Most pet owners are aware that when they move out, there may be a little more cleaning than when someone without moves out.


It all makes puppy very sad.
It all makes puppy very sad.

However, the odds are you may not actually have to deal with that all that often. The vacancy rate for pet friendly housing is typically much lower than that of a prohibitive property, and pet friendly properties rent much faster: usually, 19 days compared to the 29 days it takes on average to rent a non-pet friendly home or unit. Additionally, tenants tend to stay longer in rentals that are pet friendly versus those in places that don’t allow them. Tenants who have pets and live in pet friendly locations stay an average of 46 months- which is huge compared to those in prohibitive rentals, lagging far behind at only an 18 month average.


That isn’t to say you can just go in and change all your signs and ads to “pet friendly” and let the party begin. You have to proceed a little cautiously. Checking your insurance policy is definitely your first step because more often than not, there are breeds that can be problematic and it’s important to be aware of this before you start planning to join the ever growing ranks of the pet friendly properties.

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Kurt Kroeck

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