Good Reasons to Consider Being Pet Friendly

Do you know that over 60% of Australian households own a pet?

Now what’s also interesting is that many landlords and managing agents to have a ‘no pets’ policy on rental tenancies.

Perhaps it’s because they think it’s easier to manage a property without pets or they believe pets might cause damage, but I’ve always been a pet friendly landlord and it opens up my group of prospective tenants.

Not surprisingly the Australian Veterinary Association suggests there are a number good reasons to consider allowing pets, saying the benefits can significantly outweigh the negatives.

Here’s what they have to say, including busting some pet myths:

Recent research points to the fact that a well-managed pet-friendly rental can deliver great economic outcomes for those willing to introduce a "pets considered” policy.

Ten good reasons to consider renting to a pet owner

1. Pet owning tenants are generally willing to pay more rent

Australian research reveals that many dog and cat owners would be prepared to pay more for a pet-friendly rental; in fact, landlords may be able to receive from seven to 14% more rent.

The payment of a ‘pet deposit’ or ‘pet bond’ is very common in some parts of the world, but not permitted in most states of Australia.

Western Australia is the only state where a pet bond is permitted – an additional amount of up to $260 may be charged subject to conditions.

2. Pet-friendly properties rent faster

A recent American study ‘Companion Animal Renters and Pet-Friendly Housing in the US’ revealed some interesting statistics about pet-owning renters –

• 25% of all rental applicants were specifically seeking out pet-friendly housing.

• Pet-friendly housing received twice as many applicants for pet-friendly residences than other housing.

• Pet-friendly residences were leased out in an average of 19 days instead of the 29 days, it regularly took to lease a non-pet-friendly residence. These results may indicate that, like their US counterparts, Australian landlords could be losing a large market segment by not allowing pets.

A leading national network of real estate agencies has indicated that of their national rental property listings, only 4% were pet-friendly.

With around 50% of all Australia n households owning a dog or cat, it’s clear that there is a massive imbalance between supply and demand for pet-friendly rental properties.

3. Responsible pet owners can make excellent tenants

Research shows that a responsible pet owner can make an excellent long-term tenant that abides by the housing rules.

They know it can be difficult to find pet-friendly housing and want to avoid having to search again for it.

Think about it – you may own a pet, or you may have friends or family that do.

If so, you’re probably aware of the close and caring bond people share with their pets.

You may also have noticed that many pet owners are very house proud and keep their homes and gardens beautifully.

These same people could be renters, and could make perfect tenants.

4. Tenants with pets want to hold longer leases

Tenants with pets are likely to stay longer than non-pet owning tenants.

They know that it can be hard to find pet-friendly accommodation, so once they secure a suitable property, they are generally inclined to sign a longer lease and/or renew their lease.

The US research supports this, indicating that tenants with pets stayed an average of 23 – 46 months compared to just 15 – 18 months for tenants without pets.

5. Reduce your advertising spend

With pet-friendly properties leasing more quickly and pet-owning tenants staying longer, it stands to reason that you will spend less on advertising to find tenants for your rental property.

6. No more problems with ‘hidden’ pets

With the vast majority of rental properties prohibiting keeping a dog it’s not surprising to find that many pet owners simply don’t reveal their pet owning status on their application.

Australian research indicates that for 11% of pet- owning tenants (mainly cat owners) their landlords or body corporate are unaware that they keep pets 2.

In the US the study found that as many as 20% of tenants were keeping pets illegally.

Illegal pet possession can be stressful and is not something renters want to do.

However, given that 91% of Australians feel very close to their pet, some people will take the risk.

7. Most Australians feel their pet is part of the family and care for them as such

More than 83% of Australians have had a pet at some time in their lives and of the people who do not currently own a pet, 53% would like to own one in the future 3.

91% of pet owners report feeling ‘very close’ to their pet, reinforcing the fact that pets are an integral member of the Australian family unit.

People tend to look after their pets as they look after other members of their family; they look after their health and hygiene, exercise and entertainment, they clean up after them and generally care well for them.

In fact, studies show that Australian pet owners are becoming more and more socially responsible in the care of their pets.

A new Australian research project by Dr Emma Power from the University of Western Sydney, "Renting with Pets in Sydney, Australia:

A Social and Animal Welfare Challenge”, revealed that for many pet owners the experience of searching for a pet-friendly house was very stressful and the inability to secure appropriate accommodation left them with a feeling of housing insecurity.

8. Reduce animal euthanasia

Animal welfare agencies indicate that as many as 30% of dogs and cats are surrendered by owners who are unable to locate adequate accommodation.

The ratio of pet-friendly rental properties is at odds with the number of people looking for rentals.

Sadly, this has resulted in a high number of animal surrenders.

Data from Australian animal welfare organisations suggests that up to 30% of animals surrendered to shelters are the direct result of owners being unable to secure pet-friendly accommodation.

Better animal welfare results, along with better outcomes for tenants and landlords could be achieved by a pet-friendly approach to rental tenancies.

9. "Considering pets” will not lock you into a pet- particular outcome

Allowing one tenant with a responsibly owned pet doesn’t mean you’ve created a "no-holds-barred” situation.

Rather, you might choose to include a "pets considered” clause, as opposed to "pets permitted”.

By having clear guidelines on the keeping of pets in your property, irresponsible owners can be carefully screened out without penalising responsible owners.

The new Australian research by Dr Emma Power highlighted an absolute lack of advertised pet- friendly properties.

In fact, many tenants reported that the properties they ended up renting were not advertised as pet-friendly, so they had to work hard to find these properties.

Clearly advertising a property as ‘pets considered’ ensures the choice to permit a responsibly owned pet remains firmly in the hands of the landlord/ managing agent, whilst simultaneously increasing the pool of opportunities from which to identify a good tenant.

10. Pet application and agreement forms are available

By using pet application and agreement forms landlords and managing agents can more easily identify responsible pet-owning tenants and clearly detail expectations as to how pets will be managed in the rental premises.

Jason Gwerder
Wednesday, 29 July 2020

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