To understand the multifamily industry’s growing embrace of pets, two data points stand out:
- 83% of owner/operators say pet-friendly vacancies fill faster; and
- 79% also say pet-friendly units fill easier.
This rent roll supercharger even comes with a bonus: Residents in pet-friendly communities stay 21% longer than their counterparts in pet-excluded communities. That sticky factor is worth about an extra 10 months of rent.
Residents love their Clover, Spot, Max, Benji, or Fluffy. Today many owner/operators have doubled down on an amenity that burst into full bloom during the pandemic. Scores of operators have instituted pet-friendly management policies or expanded the ones they had. Three out of four multifamily communities now welcome pets in some form or fashion.
Pets are good for business, provided a couple of conditions are managed.
No. 1: waste disposal. About twice a day dogs must take a poo break. How property managers accommodate nature’s call is key to maintaining curb appeal, keeping reputation scores high, and optimizing maintenance staff time. No. 2: Make sure your pet management policy isn’t compromised by uncertain compliance enforcement.
Fortunately, proptech innovation offers solutions for both.
Proptech and Pet Waste
J Retinger says about 40% of apartment pet owners don’t pick up their pet’s waste. “You’d be surprised by how many people don’t understand why it’s offensive,” explains the CEO of BioPet Laboratories, the parent firm of PooPrints.
PooPrints is a biotechnology pioneer and the only DNA solution for pet waste management. Retinger says some owners still believe unscooped doggie waste is OK, ignoring health and environmental hazards (to say nothing of the turnoff it is to prospective renters and community neighbors).
The waste disposal question hangs over every pet-friendly community. Some communities respond reactively through daily staff or third-party pickup or video surveillance.
Others turn to proptech. “Unscooped pet waste challenges every pet-inclusive community,” observes Susan Passmore, executive vice president of Blue Ridge Cos., a North Carolina-based development, construction, and management company.
Melissa Riley, director of compliance and training for family-owned and operated property management company Fort Family of Jacksonville, Florida, agrees. “Most pet owners are responsible. We needed a proactive solution that holds the offending few accountable.”
They found it with PooPrints. Both executives credit the service for dramatically reducing waste pickup. At move-in, new residents with pets sign a DNA testing agreement as part of their lease. A gentle cheek swab of their pet is mailed to the PooPrints lab. The DNA “print” is entered into the company’s FBI-grade database. A positive match of an offending sample typically results in a fine, starting with $350 at Blue Ridge Cos. and $250 at Fort Family. A second fine is seldom required. “DNA doesn’t lie,” says Passmore. “This holds pet owners accountable like no other solution.”
“DNA pet testing is foundational to our pet management strategy,” says Riley.
Proptech and Policy Compliance
When it comes to a pet, how big is big? How do you verify an emotional support or service animal? Did the owner comply with Fair Housing Act rules? What about aggressive dog breeds? Is there even such a thing?
It’s not fair to ask on-site staff to act as pet policy compliance officers. The solution for many owner/operators is an online third party—a central clearinghouse—to help enforce pet management policy. A good example is PetScreening.
“The PetScreening platform allows us to better adhere to our pet policy,” says Kortney Balas, vice president of strategic services at JVM Realty, an Illinois-based owner/operator. “It’s challenging to monitor compliance.”
“PetScreening is an integrated part of our application and lease signing process,” explains Stacey Lecocke, executive vice president of operations for Asset Living, a Texas-based third-party property manager. “It takes pressure off our teams. The service removes the risk of Fair Housing claims and allows us to hold residents accountable for unauthorized pets.”
PetScreening technology can also open pet management policy to all dog breeds, removing the “restricted breed” label. Research shows genetics are not destiny. The platform includes legally binding pet owner attestations to mitigate pet risk.
Proptech has transformed how the multifamily industry invests, develops, markets, and manages properties. Now that power helps automate and simplify the growing demands of pet management.