People Want Pet Friendly House Rentals

Did you know that recent data shows that almost 90% of renters have a pet? After Apartments.com surveyed a group of 1,000 renters around the country, results revealed that almost 90% have a pet. These pet owners, who have formed strong bonds with their four-legged family members, are adamant about living in pet-friendly rental homes.

According to the L.A. Times, pleasing pet owners has been trending for some time. “We see the rental industry moving toward accommodating the needs of this important and growing segment of renters,” says Tammy Kotula, spokesperson for Apartments.com.

Long story short: pet-friendly apartments and single-family homes rank among the most desirable places to live for renters who own pets. If you want to dramatically increase interest in your rental and widen your pool of quality residents, there’s no better way than to make your rental property pet friendly.

What kind of pets do renters have?

In a 2014 Apartments.com survey, which included 3,000 respondents, the most popular types of pets were:

  • Cats: 41%
  • Small Dogs: 39 %
  • Medium/Large Dog: 34%
  • Other Pets like Birds, Fish, Hamsters: 13%

These pets are usually easy to integrate into single family rentals and apartments, making it a win-win for landlord and tenant. People want places for rent that accept dogs, cats, and other pets so they can easily keep their family together and not resort to shelters or rehoming pets.

“No pet” rentals take longer to lease, too.

“Being pet-friendly is one of the best things you can do for your own property. Based on our own internal statistics, homes with a deviation from our standard pet policy take an average of 57 days longer to lease than those with the standard pet policy.” — Elyse S., Leasing Operations Manager at Marketplace Homes

Pet-Friendliness Among Top Wanted Amenities

Forget the fitness center, swimming pool, or even the washer/dryer in unit. People want to bring their pets into their next rental home. Landlords and community managers are also listening, offering pet-friendly amenities like dog parks, walking trails, fenced areas, and more for pets to play and get fresh air. Knowing that people want to give a quality life to their pets, these communities are delivering on pro pet amenities. Communities that make it easy to walk dogs and get some fun bonding time outdoors win!

How can landlords protect their property from pets?

Protecting a property from pet damage is a major concern for landlords who want to maintain the value of their investments. Thankfully, property owners can take several measures to ensure that their rentals remain in good condition and residents are happy.

“In order to protect yourself, you should charge a deposit and monthly pet fee. Our recommendation is $250 pet deposit + $25/month pet fee. We also recommend allowing a maximum of 2, and to have breed restrictions and weight limits that align with most major insurance company restrictions. We also recommend having a mid-lease inspection, of which Marketplace Homes provides free of charge.” -Elyse S. Leasing Operations Manager

Many leases also require all residents to have renters insurance, which may cover pet damage as part of its liability coverage. This may help protect your finances with pet-related damages. However, renters insurance has some limitations regarding pet coverage, so explore these policies before recommending one to your residents.

While these provisions work for standard pet owners, what about people with service animals or emotional support animals? How do the rules differ for them, and how can landlords reasonably accommodate them while keeping their properties in good condition?

What about Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals?

Service and Emotional Support animals belong to a different class of animal companions and do not classify as “pets.” A number of laws, including the fair housing act, protect owners of these animals, allowing them to bring them into spaces typically barred to animals, like restaurants and “no pet” communities.

Since these animals aren’t “pets,” landlords can’t charge a pet deposit or fee. Understanding the rights of these animal owners — and how to protect your assets without these financial backups — are crucial for landlords.

Service Animals in Rentals

Service animals are dogs that undergo training to perform daily tasks for people with disabilities. These animals help people who are blind, deaf, or with another condition that requires 24/7 assistance to live as independently as possible. Right now, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) officially recognizes dogs (and sometimes miniature horses) as service animals.

According to the ADA, “entities must permit service animals to accompany people with disabilities in areas where members of the public are allowed to go.”

One service animal is permitted per disability. For a person to have two service animals, each would be a separate, distinctively different disability. Landlords are not allowed to collect a pet deposit for service animals. The only deposit required is the standard security deposit that applies to all residents.

Since service animals are predominantly well-trained dogs, many property management companies and landlords don’t have issues with them. They are helpful and allow your resident to live independently too! But if for any reason they cause harm or damage, landlords can take financial backup from the security deposit.

Emotional support animals (ESAs) in Rentals

ESAs provide emotional support to individuals who need relief from symptoms like anxiety and depression. A doctor prescribes an ESA for a diagnosed disability that may not always be “visible.” ESAs are different from service animals because they are not limited to dogs but can be any animal. They also don’t need to go through any training.

ESAs, like service animals, can live in buildings that don’t allow pets. They may enter all common areas of a residential community, but not places of business. They are also not counted as “pets” as they are medically necessary. Dog breed restrictions do not apply to these animals either.

By law, landlords must provide “reasonable accommodation” for individuals with ESAs. Consult a real estate lawyer to understand what you should do to ensure that you treat the resident with an ESA fairly.

As with service animals, you aren’t allowed to charge a pet deposit or monthly pet rent fee as ESAs are not pets. If anything happens regarding ESA behavior, such as an unruly dog that is harming residents, then eviction is in order. If an ESA causes damage, only the security deposit can provide financial backing.

Pet Friendly House Rentals Reduce Vacancies

Our Leasing Operations Manager, Elyse S., has seen a lot regarding filling rentals, and here’s her big takeaway about the effectiveness of making rentals pet-friendly.

“With over 80% of renters having a pet, having a pet friendly policy is the most important impact on your listing aside from price. No matter where your rental is on the map of America, people want houses for rent that also welcome their pets.

“Think about it like this. There are 10 people on the market looking for a similar home in this neighborhood. Statistically speaking, only 1-2 prospects would even be able to consider your home currently. You’re certainly welcome to continue marketing with a no pet policy in place, but we would recommend lowering the price or offering a substantial move-in special to compensate for not being able to market to over 80% of prospects.” — Elyse S.

Pet Friendly Rental Houses Near Me

The verdict is here: people are looking for pet friendly rental houses. Whether it’s a townhome, two-bedroom apartment, or single-family home, being able to bring their pets is a major plus for renters. If you are having a hard time filling your rentals, allowing pets may be the answer for you. Talk to our property management team to learn more about how we fill rentals with excellent marketing and tried and true processes!

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