Creating Dog-Friendly Rental Communities: 3 Things You Need to Know

In 2016, nearly 20% of the dogs taken in by Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando were surrendered because of landlord and housing issues. In order to keep more pets (read: large dogs) and their people together, the Florida agency decided to launch a Pet Apartment Registry, where people could go to find a rental community that would accept pets.

So how did they get communities to let go of their restrictions on breed and size? Executive Director Stephen Bardy describes their tactics in a 30-minute webinar recording. Read some key tips they learned along the way.

Keep It Strictly Business

When speaking to managers of rental communities, Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando quickly discovered that emotional appeals focusing on a message of animal welfare were ineffective. What did work, however, was sharing statistics that showed renting to people with pets would increase their revenue. According to their commissioned economic impact study, renters with pets stayed in their apartments much longer than renters without pets (42 months vs. 18 months on average!), reducing turnover and the cost of acquiring new tenants. 

No Calls, Please

Bardy reports that phone calls and emails to apartment complexes went largely unanswered and unreturned. “We got the best response by just stopping by” to arrange a meeting, he says. Depending on COVID-19 restrictions in your area of the country, this may not be the best bet quite yet.

And Speaking of COVID-19…

At the time the Pet Apartment Registry was created, Orlando only had a 3% vacancy rate—so apartment complexes were not having trouble finding renters without pets. But with potential evictions and less people moving into the area because of COVID-19, that may change. “In communities with higher rental vacancies, there may be more incentive to look at breed discrimination policies,” says Bardy. 

Bonus side note: Words matter. Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando found that building managers and owners responded better when asked to ease breed/size restriction, rather than discrimination.

This recording is part of our new Innovation Bank of short, pre-recorded webinars. Every week we’ll be rolling out a brilliant idea from one of your colleagues in the field–come back next Thursday for more inspo.

The Association is the only international society of leaders actively leading and managing community animal shelters/animal control agencies.

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