John Bradford has had a busy few months. The PetScreening Founder and CEO not only has furthered the company’s mission of providing the most pet-friendly and pet-responsible experience possible at rental communities. He also had an election to win.
Mission accomplished, as Bradford maintained his spot among the North Carolina House of Representatives. The politician/pet connoisseur recently took the time for a wide-ranging interview with Scott Patterson on the Amenitize or Die podcast, which focuses on amenity tactics and strategies from key figures within the multifamily operating environment.
Bradford’s episode, titled How to Make Pet Ownership Beneficial for Owners & Renters, tackled a sizable array of the industry’s pet-related topics—including breed, weight and restrictions. PetScreening is in favor of replacing blanket restrictions with a case-by-case evaluation process and offers operators the technology to do so.
“We don’t try to tell managers how to run their business,” Bradford said. “We just try to show them a tool they can use..” Bradford said. “We just try to show them a tool they can use to better manage their pets and animals and their respective pet policies.”
Bradford has developed an especially keen eye for how pets fit into the rental-housing landscape, having also spent time in property management. During a 10-year stint as an IBM sales executive in the early part of his career, Bradford delegated his bonus money into residential assets in the single-family space. That perspective enabled him to build a software platform to help standardize the management of pets, pet policies and assistance animals.
“Coming from the property management side, we’re tight—we don’t want to spend money on anything, frankly,” Bradford said. “The other thing is that we don’t like to sign contracts. So, when I built PetScreening, there were two things I had to do. I had to make sure it was low-cost or no-cost—and we made it free for property managers. And we don’t make people sign contracts. We have terms of service, but the reality is, if you love our service you use us.”
Bradford, who noted that “our customers love us and they tend to stay,” has helped build a platform that now is utilized by nearly 21,000 pet-friendly management companies spanning approximately four million homes in the multifamily space.
He also addressed one of the industry’s most polarizing pet topics—assistance animals, which include service animals and emotional support animals (ESAs). Debates continue to persist in the industry on how to effectively manage them, which is part of PetScreening’s mission.
“There are lots of people who have legitimate disabilities and absolutely need these animals,” Bradford said. “They are not the problem. The problem is people who are trying to get around landlords’ policies about how many dogs are allowed or the size or breed of a dog. In order to do that, they’ll say their pet is an assistance animal of some kind.”
Bradford noted that of the total reasonable accommodation requests reviewed by PetScreening, approximately 60% of the requests do not meet the Fair Housing Act and HUD standard.
“For the industry, that’s huge because that means those [60%] are really pets,” Bradford said. “And with pets, you can charge fees or decide whether to accept that pet. Part of our service is to make sure landlords know how to navigate that. With me being a legislator and a lawmaker, we really work hard with HUD and Washington, D.C.”
Another issue afflicting property teams is the unreported pet, one a resident sneaks into a community without paying pet fees. In addition to lost revenue, property teams have an inaccurate count of the community’s pet population and often send property personnel, such as maintenance teams, to homes without properly notifying them of pets in the household.
“We try to close those loopholes by making sure people who don’t have pets are on a legal record acknowledging: when you say you don’t have a pet, it really means you don’t have a pet,” he said. “It also means if you have a pet visitor [such as a dog walker] it’s not allowed unless it’s reported to the property, so we make sure those folks understand that.”
Bradford also was asked about PetScreening’s trademark FIDO Score.
“Property managers need a consistent way to better measure all pets—from dogs to cats—no matter the breed,” Bradford said of the numeric 0 to 5 “paw” score. “They then can use that as a guide as well as a revenue collection method for pets.”
To listen to the full episode, click here.
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