Push to broaden pet-friendly parameters

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Animal welfare advocates in the United States are funding research to explore the mutual benefits for people and pets when they live together. Sponsors of the newly launched Pet-Inclusive Housing Initiative point to results of a recently commissioned survey of renters and property managers to make the case that pets can be good for business in the multifamily market.

“We hope to bring the housing providers and the pet care community together so everyone can learn and benefit from this data,” says Steven Feldman, executive director of the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), one the two non-profit organizations behind the venture.

The survey polled 500 property owners and managers and 1,049 renters, 749 of whom are currently pet owners. All groups provided relatively positive feedback on pets, with 93 per cent of property managers agreeing that pets are important members of a family and 86 per cent reporting they have a positive relationship with most renters who own pets.

That’s reflected in existing allowances. Responding landlords confirmed that 76 per cent of their rental units are classified as pet-friendly, but typically with some qualifications. Restrictions on dog breeds and size apply in half their units and limits on the total number of pets are in place for 28 per cent of the units.

Dogs are more widely accepted than cats, with 77 per cent of units permitting dogs versus 64 per cent permitting cats. A slight majority of pet owners — 51 per cent — were required to meet extra contractual conditions such as signing additional clauses and/or providing documentation of pet health records, training certificates or insurance.

Nearly a quarter of the surveyed tenants reported that they had moved, at some point, because of their pets. The average tenancy tenure of surveyed pet-friendly buildings was 4.6 years compared to 3.8 years in buildings where pets are not allowed.

Several renters reported unfulfilled inclinations for pet ownership. One third of surveyed residents of existing pet-friendly buildings said they would add to their menageries if limits on the number of pets were lifted; 35 per cent of surveyed residents where pets are disallowed said they would get a pet if the rules were changed.

“We know that we can use this research as the basis for a positive dialogue to increase the availability of pet-friendly rental housing to everyone’s benefit,” suggests Aimee Gilbreath, executive director of Michelson Found Animals Foundation, the other co-sponsor of the research initiative.

There’s no indication whether non-pet owners were asked if they had ever moved to avoid animals or if they would move in future if existing restrictions on pets were rescinded.

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