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Have multifamily properties gone to the dogs?

In the not-so-distant past, most multifamily property owners loathed the idea of having pets on their property. Those furry little nightmares would ruin the carpets, chew the drapes and generally cause more damage than a deposit could cover. This attitude led to an eternal struggle between owner and tenant. Residents would go to great lengths to hide their pets and owners would go to even greater lengths to catch them in the act.

Over the last decade or so, we’ve seen a monumental shift in this area. The pet-friendly revolution has led owners to see their tenants’ four-legged friends as members of the family, and they’ve loosened their stance. Even places that were already amenable to pets are doing even more to attract pet owners.

It makes business sense

There are 95.5 million owned cats and 83 million owned dogs in this country. Estimates show that 33% of the population has at least one cat, and 39% have at least one dog. That’s a pretty big swath of your potential renters, so ignoring them is not a good idea for your bottom line.

Aside from attracting new tenants, those properties who are embracing pet owners are seeing another side effect: retention. Here’s why — people are more likely to stay in a place where they feel connected and where people share their interests. Having pet owners out in the open, walking dogs and making doggie play dates is fostering a stronger sense of community, which is making people stick around longer.

Making pets welcome

Rather than just tolerate pets, forward-thinking property owners are welcoming them with open arms and reaping the benefits. Consider some of these creative ideas being implemented by complexes across the country:

  • Royal treatmen A high rise in Denver a built dog park on the roof, complete with toys, fresh running water and an obstacle course. Others are partnering with local dog parks and doggie services like groomers, day cares and pet walking services.
  • Dress to impress. One large property in Minneapolis regularly holds pet dress up days, where residents could dress their dogs in costumes and gather in the common areas. People took tons of pictures and posted them on their social media sites, which is worth its weight in marketing gold.
  • Be a facilitator. One facility in Colorado created a special social media message board to allow renters to hook up for play dates, ask each other pet questions and show off their furry friends.
  • Treat them. Here’s a simple thing that lots of properties are doing: keep a bowl of treats in the property management office. Renters who are out walking their dogs will be encouraged to stop by the office, which helps the staff learn everyone’s names (including the pets) and that can go a long way toward building the landlord/tenant relationship.

Of course, you may still want to charge a monthly pet rent and take a deposit. It’s also reasonable to limit the size of the pet. What you don’t want to do is appear hostile toward people’s pets, so utilizing some of these ideas will help you stand out from your competition.

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