Working Towards Companion Animal-Inclusive Housing
Pets are ubiquitous members of the many U.S. households — yet many renters are denied the opportunity to share their home with an animal. Many landlords ban them outright (whether it’s allowed by law or not), and others force renters to jump through hoops such as breed restrictions and increased rent. This report outlines the difficulties facing renter companion animal guardianship, and offers critiques and rebuttals of the “pet-negative” position that many landlords hold. Data comes from a survey of 1,300 renters (750 of which were companion guardians) and 551 property owner/operators.
Virtually all renters who were companion guardians reported that the owner/operator of their building was aware of their animal and had a good relationship with them. 85% of owner/operators believe themselves to have a good relationship with companion guardian tenants and claim that they would work with any resident whom they found to have an unapproved animal. 76% of owner/operators say that they allow some animals, but most renters said finding companion animal-friendly housing is difficult and expensive, and only 8% have no restrictions on companion animals. Sadly, around a quarter of renters have said they had to move to keep their companion, and 14% said they have had to surrender their companion because of their living situation.
On average, animal-friendly units are filled faster and tenants in animal-friendly buildings stay longer. Around a third of renters say they would get a companion animal if they were allowed, and a third of companion guardian renters say they would get another if restrictions were lifted. Less than 10% of animals caused damages of any kind, with an average cost of repair of $210. Given the low rate of property damage caused by companion animals, the authors suggest alternatives to outright bans or costly deposits, such as requiring proof of renter’s insurance. They also suggest that property owners formalize the number and types of animals allowed and create a screening process to ensure companion animals are well-behaved.
Companion guardians are generally found to be happier and healthier than their counterparts without companion animals. Residents with companion animals are also more connected to their neighbors than those without animals, which is especially important for urban renters living in high-rise and mid-rise buildings. Furthermore, as we all know, there is a massive population of homeless shelter animals, many of whom will be euthanized if they cannot find a home. The authors of this report argue that there is a disconnect between property owner / operators definitions of “pet-friendly” and their actual policies, and that this disconnect is harming people and animals. Lifting restrictions would allow more residents to have companion animals, which would benefit their mental and physical well-being as well as allow more animals to escape shelters. Property owners have ways to ensure the safety of their tenants and buildings while allowing for companion animals, and should explore these options rather than banning or seriously restricting animals outright.