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Understanding the impact pets make on a community

Our country has a strong passion for our pet friends and it is inevitable that we as property managers need to make important decisions about whether or not to allow pets in our communities and undertake the challenges that might result.
For those who do not allow pets, the approach forward is pretty simple. If a pet is discovered this is a lease violation and can result in eviction.
That said, more research seems to show the value (and pros) of allowing animals in our communities. It becomes a big draw for the community, certainly widening the pool of potential residents. It also shows empathy toward pet owners, which is an angle that can be used in marketing.
Furthermore, allowing a pet can create a greater value for your rentals, giving you a chance to command higher fees and a possible edge over competition that does not allow animals.
Another interesting idea to consider is the longevity of your residents and how allowing a pet to live with them makes the community feel more permanent. This can result in better lease renewal rates and a community where being responsible for a pet – as well as the unit – goes hand in hand.
The more a resident considers an abode their home, the more likely they are to renew a lease. Certainly, settling in with a pet can make a rental feel like a permanent residence. Additionally, The Balance points out that it can be harder for pet owners to find alternate dwellings that will take both them and their pet. 
Having said that, residents who care for pets in a loving way are more likely to be residents who care overall about their apartment or townhouse and the overall community they live in. In other words, we all want responsible residents, and while not every pet owner is more responsible automatically, it’s a good chance a pet owner will care for his or her surroundings since it is their home and their pet friends’ home as well.
What to remember when allowing pets
It is important that communities focus on what procedures or policies to put in place when allowing pets. Some of the most important factors include ensuring that all animals are licensed, have their medical shots, wears tags and are registered with the office. In some cases, management may want to require an owner and pet interview. As a part of that, apartment communities may want to create restrictions on the number of pets, breed, weight and size allowed.
You will also have to decide whether or not to require a refundable pet deposit or non-refundable pet fee along with monthly fees as a part of your lease agreements.
When animals are on the property, allowing them to be outside on the grounds should be a guided rule that requires animals to be kept on a leash and cleaned up after. If you’re able, create a dog run or a dog park. There is a cost, but this is another added feature to promoting your community.  In the event that’s not an option due to cost constraints, make sure that the residents know your communities’ expectations for having their pets outside.
Since service and assistance animals are important to many people, they need to be treated in a proper and considerate way as well. Though they are not pets, these important companions should still be subject to policies regarding their paperwork, their medical shots, tags and being registered with the office.
In fact, it’s not a bad idea to share all of the information you want residents to know about pets as a part of your ongoing communications when it comes to rules or guidelines for residents.
Keep in mind the challenges
Allowing pets in your communities is a wonderful advantage, but can involve challenges and even risks. Without spending too much time on the downside, remember the following risks: pet damage; noise and odor impacts; and worst-case scenarios of injury to other residents. That last one should be carefully considered and may require pet owners to have stronger renters’ insurance as a result.
Challenges aside, careful planning will help communities transition to pet ownership if they so desire.
For those communities already allowing animals, it’s a great idea to review all of your current guidelines and policies, make sure your current residents are following them, and thoughtfully inform new residents about the policies for pet ownership.
Pets in our communities clearly makes them feel more like home while offering a competitive advantage. Allowing them simply requires good planning and a willingness to understand the impact animals will make on the units, the property and the lives of residents.