Did you know that over 60% of Australian households own a pet?
Now what’s also interesting is that many landlords and managing agents 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 of 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 dogs 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.
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 applications.
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 pets, reinforcing the fact that pets are integral members 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, 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 accommodations.
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 on 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.
Read on for further information.
Pet Application and Pet Agreement forms have been developed by the Australian Companion Animal Council to assist with the process of renting a property to a pet owner.
Pet Application Forms provide a simple, standardised system, a virtual resume for pets, that allows pet owners to present relevant and specific information relating to their pets.
The form also allows the owner to provide information on the way the pet is cared for.
A more informed and accurate decision can thus be made by a landlord or managing agent by assessing pet ownership on a case-by-case basis.
Pet Agreement Forms enable the landlord or managing agent to clearly detail their expectation as to how a pet will be kept and managed once they are approved.
Such an agreement sets both a benchmark in pet-keeping practices and a confirmed communication channel.
The forms standardise the agreement between the two parties, affording security for the pet-owning tenant and setting out the responsibilities associated with both pet ownership and maintenance of the property.
The forms also allow for a representative of an owner’s corporation to provide written approval regarding the keeping of pets in strata situations.
The forms are available online and can be modified to suit individual situations and agreements.
You can request that all pet-owning applicants complete and sign the forms as well as attach additional information as required. Signed copies of both forms can be retained by each party.
MYTH: Pets create damage to properties
FACT: The US data showed that there was little if any difference in damage between tenants with or without pets.
Interestingly, the cost of damage from pets was much smaller than the costs associated with tenants with children.
63% of the US landlords that prohibited pets in their properties had no first-hand experience on which to base their decision; the source of their concerns was most likely indirect information.
It would seem that the concerns versus the realities of pet-related damage may be somewhat distorted.
MYTH: A second pet is a double trouble
FACT: Tenants with more than one pet need not be seen as a problem.
Most pets, including dogs and cats, are social creatures, and companionship is important for their well-being.
Keeping two pets can help alleviate issues associated with boredom and loneliness.
MYTH: Strata properties are not suitable for pets
FACT: Dogs and cats can be kept successfully in small spaces and cats, in particular, can adapt well to an indoor or high-rise environment.
Not all strata schemes permit pets, so it is important for landlords and managing agents to check that the by-laws allow pets and whether any particular approvals are required before agreeing to rent the property to a pet-owning tenant.
Australian research clearly demonstrates that pets can contribute to a sense of community in strata developments by encouraging residents to interact.
Dogs help their owners to get to know others within an apartment building and local neighbourhood by increasing the opportunities for social interaction which can be valuable in creating a strong apartment community.
Pet owners were keen to ensure their pets fitted in well with others in the community and regularly helped one another be responsible owners by letting each other know about barking dogs, giving each other advice on training and caring for pets, and looking after one another’s pets.
New resources, developed in conjunction with Strata Community Australia, help support the responsible ownership of pets in strata premises.
For detailed information visit www.stratacommunity.org.au/strata-living/pets
MYTH: Bigger pets mean bigger problems
FACT: The size of a pet is not related to how well it will be suited to a particular living environment.
Experts emphasise that it is the owner/pet relationship that results in socially responsible behaviour and activities i.e. toilet training, manners, exercise, care, etc.
Experts also look to the temperament and degree of socialisation of the pet.
Some landlords and agents stipulate that a dog has to weigh less than 10kg or be ‘small’.
However, this is very subjective and many larger dogs tend to be very quiet and docile.
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