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Landlords may be overlooking an opportunity to increase business profitability. Pet friendly housing is a growing niche market that is underserved in many rental properties. Renting to pet owners may make good business sense.
Market and consumer trends point to increasing numbers of pet households. According to the 2007-2008 National Pet Owners Survey, 63% of U.S. households or about 71 million homes own a pet. While there are no available statistics on the ratio of pet owners who rent, a conservative estimate is that 50 percent of renters own pets.
Pets are regarded as family members and renters carefully search out living arrangements and amenities suitable for their entire family. To many families a pet friendly atmosphere is a higher priority than a private parking space.
As the newly created class of displaced homeowners start their rental search, many homeowners have pets that will move with the family. Opportunities exist to accommodate owners with pets. Landlords receive the benefits of additional rental income and potentially fewer vacancies. Studies have shown that renters with pets average a longer rental stay than those renters who do not have pets.
Those landlords with a “No Pets” policy cite concerns about pet damage, noise, liability for injury, and insurance restrictions. Landlords who welcome animal companions, advertising “Pet Friendly” living, address these concerns through the use of pet deposits, rent differentials, and written pet policies and rules.
Breed, size or weight restrictions can be incorporated into the landlord’s rental policies and lease agreements. A separate pet deposit as allowed by state statute can help minimize costs to repair pet damage. Requiring that pets have been spayed or neutered, have successfully completed obedience training, have regular health examinations, are licensed, are current with required vaccinations, and kept under control at all times (leash or harness) can reduce unwanted behaviors and help with safety and security issues.
Understandably, pet friendly housing does carry some restrictions necessary to protect and preserve quality of life and property value. The most common restrictions are the number of pets allowed per household, the breed of animal, the size (weight and height) of the pet, and proof of required licensing and vaccinations.
Rental demographics are changing…the future of rental housing may be going to the dogs… or cats…