Easing restrictions on pets in rental housing could help millions of pets find homes

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How do we to get more pets out of shelters and into apartments?

By making the process easier on everyone involved: pets, renters, and landlords.

To further that end, the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) joined forces with Michelson Found Animals Foundation to launch the Pet-Inclusive Housing Initiative, a research and resource development initiative that promotes access to the joy of pets in every home.

New research shows that, while the majority of rental housing allows pets, significant restrictions present hurdles for pet-owning renters. The 2019 research included an online survey of 1,299 rental residents and a telephone survey of 551 owner/operators in urban and suburban settings.

Steven Feldman, HABRI executive director, said: “The health and wellness benefits of pet ownership are well documented . . . and when restrictions are lifted, everyone can enjoy the full benefits of the human-animal bond.”

One-third of pet owners in restricted pet-friendly housing said they’d get another pet if restrictions were lifted, and 35% of nonpet owners in non-pet-friendly housing would get a pet if property owners made it easier. Changes that would allow more apartment renters to own more pets could, over time, lead to the rehoming of as many as 8.75 million animals.

The research also shows that major opportunities await landlords who can ease those restrictions:

  • Pet-friendly vacancies can be filled more quickly, say 83% of property managers.
  • Residents in pet-friendly units stay longer, averaging 4.6 years versus 3.8 years for non-pet-friendly units.

“Pets are good for business,” Feldman said. “This data shows there are real opportunities for property owners and operators to achieve higher levels of occupancy and retention.”

Other key findings

Most rental housing is pet friendly, although requirements vary:

  • Seventy-six percent of rental units are identified by owner/operators as pet friendly
  • Seventy-two percent restrict the number of pets
  • Seventy-seven percent allow dogs
  • Half restrict the size of the dog, and the average weight limit is 45 pounds
  • Half restrict the breed of the dog
  • Two-thirds allow cats
  • Slightly more than half of pet owners were required to take formal steps to have their pet approved, including signing addendums/additional contracts, providing health records/training certificates, and showing proof of pet insurance

Best of all, both renters and property owners/managers believe pets are good for communities:

  • Ninety-three percent of property managers believe that pets are important members of the family
  • Eighty-one percent property managers say they would work with renters if they discovered they had an unapproved pet
  • Seventy-one percent of all renters (including those without pets) agree that pets bring people together within a community
  • Two-thirds of all renter pet-owners say that their pets have brought them closer to their neighbors

Feldman sees a bright future in the findings: “With the Pet-Inclusive Housing Initiative, we hope to bring housing providers and the pet care community together, so that everyone can learn and benefit from this new data.”

Photo credit: © iStock/Viorel Kurnosov