Last week I wrote about pets under the radar and speculated that pet owners may actually make for better tenants than those without pets. I’m obviously not the first person to wonder about that, and Pawesome reader Anne pointed me to a Pet-Friendly Housing Study run by Firepaw, Inc. for the Pet Savers Foundation that tries to answer that and other questions related to pet-friendly (or pet-unfriendly) housing.
Citing a paucity of pet-friendly housing and housing conflicts as two of the primary reasons that pet owners relinquish their animals, Firepaw set out to determine whether it really is disadvantageous for landlords to rent to pet owners, and just how pet owners measure up as tenants.
Their findings are fascinating!
This is by no means a comprehensive summary of the study, but these are some of the results that pet owners and landlords will want to know:
- Only 9% of housing allowed companion animals without any significant limitations on size or type.
- Large complexes more commonly allowed pets than landlords with only a few units. However, large complexes were also more likely to set size or type of pet limitations, with very few large complexes having no conditions.
- The data indicates there was a clear, statistically significant rent differential between housing that allowed pets and housing that did not, with pet-friendly housing charging more in rent.
- Tenants in pet-friendly rentals stayed an average of 46 months compared to 18 months for tenants residing in rentals prohibiting pets.
- The average time it took to rent out a pet-friendly unit was 19 days compared to 29 days for non-pet-friendly units.
- Approximately one-half of landlords allowing pets stating that they have never experienced damage from companion animals allowed in their units.
- The study data suggests there is little if any difference in damage between tenants with and without pets. The biggest difference between damage from tenants with pets and those without was under $40.
In other words, a lot of the beliefs about why it’s unsafe or unwise to rent to pet owners are unfounded, and landlords who allow pets can command significantly higher rents. Pet-owning renters tend to have less turnover (a good thing) and pet-friendly apartments get rented significantly faster. There are real advantages to landlords with generous pet policies! Zing!
For landlords who don’t allow pets but whose tenants nonetheless have them (this study reported that 20% of renters keep pets in violation of their leases) the picture isn’t so pretty. They get none of the benefits of an official “pets allowed” policy — longer tenancies, higher rent, pet deposits, control over what size/type of animal is allowed, etc. — but are subject to all of the potential expenses and hassle. Lose-lose.
Next up, I’ll write about what landlords can do to accommodate new renters with pets… and how existing renters can try to persuade their landlords to reconsider a no-pets policy.