ASK KARI: Pets and Their “Paw-rents,” the Perfect Combo in Pet-Friendly Living!

Last Updated: August 3, 2023By

By Kari Negri, Chief Executive Officer, SKY Properties, Inc.

  • Dear Kari, how should I handle allowing tenants with pets?

In recent years, a remarkable trend has emerged that is reshaping the way we view pet ownership—the rise of the millennial “Paw-rent.” With millennials’ unique values, lifestyle, and priorities, they are leading in a new era of pet companionship that reflects a deep connection with their furry friends. Gone are the days when pets were simply seen as “man’s best friend” or mere companions. For millennials, pets have become cherished family members, their babies, confidants, and sources of comfort in an increasingly fast-paced and interconnected world.

This growing attachment to pets is also fueling the rise of pet-friendly apartments, which have become a significant trend in response to the needs and desires of millennial pet owners. Here are some tips on how you can join this trend and make your apartment pet-friendly:

Tip 1 | Establish Pet Etiquette Guidelines

While pets can indeed bring people together and enhance the sense of community, it is essential to acknowledge that they can also be a source of conflict among tenants. Differing opinions on pet behavior, noise, or cleanliness may occasionally lead to tension or disputes among neighbors. This is why it is important to develop a set of pet etiquette guidelines to ensure that all tenants can enjoy a peaceful and respectful living environment. These guidelines may include suggestions on leash control, noise management, and waste disposal. By promoting responsible pet ownership, you can foster a harmonious community where everyone can coexist comfortably.  Good etiquette dictates that waste is always picked up, so let’s make that part easy.

Tip 2 | Invest in a Dog Station

A dog station is a valuable addition and amenity to any pet-friendly environment. Try to find an area that will work well for providing convenient access to biodegradable bags for pet owners to easily clean up after their pets. When setting up a dog station, important considerations include selecting a convenient location, preferably fenced-in if possible, and easily accessible to pet owners, ensuring an ample supply of biodegradable bags and a nearby trash receptacle that closes securely.

Be sure to display clear signage with instructions on proper use. Immediately implement regular maintenance and cleaning routines and consider more ways to improve the pet area. For example, if you can, a fenced area is a terrific way to embrace the dog culture. You can add pet friendly faux grass, a decorative fire hydrant, a bench and some dog toys. Education campaigns can also be a fantastic way to promote responsible pet ownership and emphasize the positive impact of pet ownership and the enjoyment of the community.

Tip 3 | Implement DNA Swabbing

If there are instances of repeat waste offenders that are challenging to identify, consider DNA swabbing for dogs as it can help address the issue. This process involves collecting DNA samples from each dog in the community through a painless cheek swab. When an unsanitary incident occurs, such as unattended dog waste, the waste is collected as evidence and sent for DNA analysis. There are many “by mail” service providers that conduct this type of testing.

By comparing the waste sample with the stored DNA profiles of the community’s dogs, the responsible dog and owner can be identified. It is important to note that DNA swabbing is just an added measure that may be considered when other methods fail to find the responsible dogs. Proper communication and education about responsible pet ownership, waste management, and community guidelines are crucial in preventing unsanitary incidents in the first place.

Tip 4 |  Restrict by Breed, Not Size

Contrary to common assumptions, we have found that size does not necessarily correlate with behavioral issues, damage, or disturbance. Instead of restricting pets based on their size, we focus on breed-specific guidelines. You can usually get these from your insurance company – there could be many restricted breeds in your building insurance policy. You want to try to ensure that all pet owners in the buildings adhere to responsible ownership practices by always enforcing the rules and being consistent. Our experience has shown that larger dogs often exhibit less energy, make less noise, and have better bladder control, so we go with what we know.

Tip 5 | Meet the Pet!

We believe in building relationships with both our tenants and their pets. It is always a good idea to meet the pet that will be living in the building. When you meet your new resident and their pet, take a moment to verify what is on the application; for instance, does the picture and description match? Some credit check / lease creation vendors will help with the process, they will collect a picture of the pet, shot records and registration at the application phase. It is difficult to know all about a pet’s behavior, temperament, and compatibility in just a few minutes, but it is still the responsible thing to match the description received to the pet standing in front of you.

Tip 6 |  Include a Pet Agreement in the Lease

To ensure clarity and accountability, we recommend including a pet agreement within the lease. A sample agreement can be obtained from the AAGLA (Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles) office or online resources. Additionally, we require that each pet be licensed with the City of Los Angeles Department of Animal Services (1-(888) 452-7381) to follow local regulations. Familiarize yourself with the community pet agreement and do regular updates to it.

Tip 7 |  Consider Pet Rent

Implementing pet rent is a beneficial practice. It not only allows us to generate additional revenue to support the provision of amenities like dog stations, but also ensures that pet owners are dedicated and responsible. We charge a pet rent of $25.00 – $100.00 per month, reflecting our commitment to creating a pet-friendly environment. Knowing that there are pets inside an apartment is also immensely helpful for other reasons, including repairs and emergencies.

Tip 8 | Organize Pet-Focused Events

Host pet-focused events within the apartment community to bring pet owners together and create a sense of camaraderie. This can include pet costume contests during Halloween, doggie playdates, or even educational workshops on pet care and training. These events not only strengthen the bond between tenants and their pets but also foster a sense of belonging within the pet-friendly community.  In the past we have held Pet trade shows and invited local pet vendors to our property – this was fun, and the tenants quickly learned there was support for pets in the neighborhood. 

Tip 9 | Require a Renter’s Insurance Policy with Pet Coverage

At SKY Properties, we prioritize the safety and well-being of all residents, including their furry companions. However, we also have an obligation to our clients. We require renter’s insurance with pet coverage to protect the building in case of any unforeseen incidents. Please note that your insurance as well as your tenant’s renter’s insurance may have specific breed restrictions so make sure to consult with your insurance broker to obtain a list of these restrictions. Recently, AAGLA has been promoting Toggle Renters Insurance, a Farmers company, that covers pets and does not have breed restrictions (www.partners.gettoggle.com/signup). By mandating renter’s insurance with pet coverage, we create a more responsible environment for all tenants. Also speak to your insurance broker about what policy limits are good for your area and individual building.

Remember, the key to a successful pet-friendly apartment is creating an inclusive and supportive environment where both tenants and their pets can thrive. By following these tips and guidelines, we aim to create a harmonious and enjoyable living experience for all tenants and their beloved pets in our pet-friendly buildings.

Kari Negri is the Chief Executive Officer of Sky Property Management and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles.  Do you have a question for me?  Please send your questions and comments to me at Kari@SKYprop.LA.

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