Ending euthanasia (or killing) as a method to control pet overpopulation requires the involvement of an entire community. We are all responsible for its use, and we can all play a role in its abolition.
Today I want to focus on the important role our community's landlords can play in achieving our "no-kill" goal. Please share this article with a landlord or property management company.
According to a report issued by The Foundation for Interdisciplinary Research and Education Promoting Animal Welfare in 2005, 50 percent of all rentals nationally prohibit pets.
Pet-forbidding landlords should consider these findings: Thirty-five percent of tenants without pets would own a pet if their landlord permitted; tenants in pet-friendly housing stay an average of 46 months compared to 18 months for tenants in rentals prohibiting pets; the vacancy rate for pet-friendly housing is lower (10 percent) than "no pets allowed" rentals (14 percent); and 25 percent of applicants inquiring about rentals in non-pet-friendly housing are seeking pet-friendly rentals.
With such a sizable potential tenant pool, it would seem there would be enough pet-friendly housing to meet the demand. In fact, according to economic theory, in perfectly functioning markets (where people make rational, profit-maximizing decisions, with full information and no significant transaction costs), pet-friendly housing should be available to renters willing to pay a premium to cover any extra costs to landlords. This begs the question, "Why do so many landlords overlook opportunities to increase profits by providing more pet-friendly housing?"
With nearly half of American households having companion animals and more than half of renters who do not have pets reporting they would have one or more pets if allowed, why are there so few pet-friendly rental units available?
Well, among landlords who do not allow pets, damage was the greatest concern (64.7 percent), followed by noise (52.9 percent), complaints/tenant conflicts (41.2 percent) and insurance issues (41.2 percent). Concerns about people leaving their pet or not cleaning common areas were rarely cited (5.9 percent).
Although 85 percent of landlords permitting pets reported pet-related damage at some time, the worst damage averaged only $430. This is less than the typical rent or pet deposit. In most cases, landlords could simply subtract the damage from a pet deposit and experience no real loss. In fact, the report finds landlords experience no substantive loss. There is little, if any, difference in damage between tenants with and without pets.
Other pet-related issues (e.g., noise, tenant conflicts concerning animals or common area upkeep) required slightly less than one hour per year of landlord time. This is less time than landlords spend for child-related problems and other issues. Whatever time landlords spend addressing pet-related problems is offset by spending less marketing time on pet-friendly units by a margin of eight hours per unit.
The study finds problems from allowing pets to be minimal, and benefits outweigh the problems. Landlords stand to profit from allowing pets because, on average, tenants with pets are willing and able to pay more for the ability to live with their pets.
At YHS, more than 1,900 pets were euthanized over the past 12 months. A large number of these pets were surrendered to our shelter because of the housing crisis. Imagine if all Yavapai County landlords permitted pets. That would create a demand far greater than the number of pets dying in our shelters, allowing YHS to achieve its goal to end euthanasia as a method of pet overpopulation control.
Landlords are hearing from their own colleagues and professional journals that permitting pets makes good business sense. Many landlords may be overlooking an opportunity to increase revenue, tenant pools and market size by allowing pets. While there are some costs to allowing pets, these costs are relatively low and the benefits appear to be even greater for landlords.
The benefits to the hundreds of homeless pets who are dying for lack of a home each year in Yavapai County cannot be overstated. Yavapai County landlords can make a profitable, life-saving choice simply by permitting pets.
Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at email@example.com or by calling 928-445-2666, ext. 21.