Pros & Cons of Allowing Restricted Pets
According to the ASPCA, there are between 70 and 80 million dogs and between 74 and 96 million cats in the United States. Between 37 and 48% of every American home has a dog, and 30 to 37% have a cat. The numbers don’t lie: people like their pets. And that means property managers will encounter many potential renters who have a pet and want to make a home for Fido, as well as themselves.
There can certainly be a downside to allowing pets in your rental properties. They can make a mess, and they can make a lot of noise which could send other renters fleeing. Losing even one tenant might cause a manager to disallow any more, but there’s also a significant upside to pet-friendly rentals.
In the first place, many of the dire stories about the problems caused by pets could be exaggerated. Josh Frank, co-founder of the Foundation for Interdisciplinary Research and Education Promoting Animal Welfare (FIREPAW), says the data don’t back up all the horror stories:
“Those stories get passed around and pets get a bad rap, when on average it doesn’t seem to be the case from our data that people with pets cause more damage. And even in cases when they do cause damage, it’s less than any pet deposit, so it’s not an amount that affects the profitability.”
However, there is an upside.
There’s apparently some good research suggesting that far from losing money, property managers who allow pets actually make more. A 2003 FIREPAW survey found that apartments which allowed pets came out in the black to the tune of on average $3,000 a year for each unit.
There are some common-sense reasons why allowing pets in your rental properties is a good idea, according to the FIREPAW study:
Fewer Vacancies: the difference isn’t huge, a 10% vacancy rate in pet-friendly complexes vs. 14% in those which prohibit pets. Still, that 4% difference means one less empty unit for every 25 available. The study also found that pet-friendly units move faster, on average renting in 19 days vs. 29 days.
Increased Demand: by allowing pets, you increase the number of potential tenants. That means you have more leverage in picking and choosing those who are the best fit for your units.
Longer Tenancies: renters who own pets stay put for a longer period of time, on average 46 months compared to just 18 months for those without pets.
No Additional Damage: contrary to popular belief, tenants with pets cause only minimally more damage, about $40 more, than those without pets. Compare this to tenants who have children, who on average cause $150 more in damage.
Increased Rental Rates: in part because of increased demand, apartments which permit pets can charge more, about $222 more, per unit than those which don’t.
Property managers need to weigh these facts, and the results of the FIREPAW study, against their own experience, but they should also be cautious in giving too much weight to the hearsay and exaggeration which often accompany “pet horror stories.”