May 23, 2024
Categories: Coalition Building and Advocacy

The benefits of renting a home to a pet owner are remarkable. Pet-friendly vacancies fill up faster, they are easier to fill and renters stay longer in pet-friendly housing. 

On a recent Community Conversations, these benefits and what can be done were discussed in “Keeping Pets and People Together in Rental Housing.” 

Two industry experts from Michelson Found Animals Foundation spoke on the importance of being truly inclusive when it comes to pet policies: Ross Barker, Program Director of Pet Inclusive Housing and Judy Bellack, Industry Principal. 

The Pet-Inclusive Housing Initiative (PIHI) was created by Michelson Found Animals Foundation to build a stronger and more pet-inclusive rental housing industry. Through research, PIHI develops resources, partnerships, and actionable tools to increase the availability of truly pet-inclusive rental housing. 

According to PIHI’s 2021 pet-inclusive housing report, 76% of rental housing owners and operators consider themselves pet friendly. However, when you factor in restrictions such as breed, weight, monthly fees, limitations on number of pets and more, 72% of residents say that pet friendly housing is very hard to find. Only 8% of rental housing in the U.S. is free of all pet restrictions. On the bright side, 93% of property managers agree that pets are part of the family, which could bode well for being truly pet-inclusive. 

Additionally, about one-third of non pet owning residents who live in rental housing with restrictions would get a pet if it weren’t for those restrictions and another third would get another pet. 

And while rental housing operators often cite concerns about risk from injury or bites, property damage, the unknown, and a perception of no real benefit as their reasons for pet restrictions, these are often relatively minor. Average damages amount to $210, with only 9% of pets are reported to cause any damage whatsoever. 

So, what can be done? Ask rental housing operators about their policies and be willing to listen. Often insurance concerns are cited, so invite them to take a look at their policies. These restrictions could be outdated and unfounded. 

At an organizational level, be mindful about feeding misconceptions around breed or weight. Reexamine policies and even your own perceptions around breed and size to see whether any of the language you’re using or policies you have in place might inadvertently be weaponized and used to maintain pet restrictions in rental housing.

You can watch the call for more data, resources and how to advocate for pet-inclusive housing policies.