Pet Policies

Appeasing the Anti-Pet and Pet-Free Resident

    Admittedly, pet owners can sometimes look through a narrow lens. Their pets are everything to them, and they often can’t fathom how anyone could see it differently.

    But at a rental property, some residents are between pets, some choose not to own them and others simply don’t like them. Perhaps they experienced a dog bite when they were younger, have allergies to certain animals or have other reasons as to why they’d rather avoid them.

    While pet enthusiasts might not be overwhelmingly sympathetic to these individuals, they are not vastly unlike any other resident. Like anyone else, they want a comfortable home, but finding one that doesn’t allow pets is becoming more challenging. After all, 60 to 65 percent of residents own a pet and there are an average of 1.3 pets per household.

    As a property manager, ways exist to strike a balance. Although you probably allow pets at your community, it doesn’t mean you can’t find a way to create harmony between your pet residents and those who would rather not interact with them.

    You have to screen each pet and its owner to make sure it complies with your community regulations. Additionally, you should consistently enforce your pet policies to ensure an undisruptive living experience for all residents, pet owners or otherwise.

    Part of creating a welcoming environment for anti-pet or pet-free residents involves understanding the factors most important to them. PetScreening data has confirmed the top three apartment-related concerns from non-pet owners. Here’s a look at each and what can be done to combat them:

    Excessive barking/noise

    Whether your residents are working from home, trying to sleep in or just enjoying a day at home, nonstop barking can certainly invade their solitude. While some pets are naturally noisy, the chance for disruption increases exponentially if they are left out on a patio/balcony or left inside for too long while their owners are at work. Property managers can help address this for future rental communities by documenting repeat noise-complaint offenders.

    Failure to pick up pet waste

    Whether it’s the unmistakable scent of pet urine in the hallways or unattended pet waste in common areas, residents are going to react negatively. And let’s face it, not every pet owner is going to be responsible 100 percent of the time. Communities can reduce these types of incidents by offering an adequate supply of pet bags throughout the community, providing regular reminders to residents about the importance of picking up after their pets and by holding offending residents accountable through DNA testing services. Companies such as PooPrints match DNA samples to determine which pet is responsible for unattended waste.

    Fear of animals/allergies

    Whether or not a traumatic incident is the cause, some people have an inherent fear of animals. While everyone might seem to love that cute Corgi mix, others might be terrified of her. Others might think she’s cute enough, but they are allergic to her and don’t necessarily want her swiping past their pant leg. Enforcing leash-at-all-times policies helps remove anxiety for these individuals and otherwise appeases the remaining non-pet owners.

    While the rental housing industry continues to move in a pet-centric direction, having too many pet amenities can be alienating to pet-free residents. Pet parks, pet spas and dog runs are great for those with animals, but they don’t do much for those without one. While these amenities can serve as a positive differentiator for some prospective renters, they might serve as a deal breaker for others. Apartment operators should be careful to strike a balance with universal amenities if they have a strong pet presence.

    Leasing offices should regularly distribute materials and post flyers that indicate they are serious about making pet owners accountable for community policies. While it’s easy to get caught up in the all-pets, all-the-time mentality, property managers have to remember the segment of renters who are indifferent to Pickles the cat and Buster the bulldog. Tactics exist to make sure everyone remains happy.