Should Student Housing Properties Be Pet-Friendly?

Monday, March 7, 2016

Blog Image

If you were to ask any apartment hunter with a pet about their experiences trying to find a pet-friendly accommodation, chances are they’ll tell you how difficult it can be to find rentals that accept pets.


Apartment searching for pet owners can be particularly difficult. With so many people owning pets, one would assume that rental property owners would be more inclined to cater to tenants with pets, but this often isn’t the case. Rentals that do not allow pets can actually be eliminating a huge amount of potential renters.

For example, let’s look at the millennial renter demographic. It’s been reported by Appfolio that approximately 76%+ of millennials own either cats or dogs. This means that rentals which prohibit pets are automatically eliminating over ¾ of the tenant pool right off the bat. This leaves approximately 24% of eligible millennial renters for those accommodations to compete for. It becomes clear that no-pet policies can actually work against landlords and property managers when it comes to leasing.


A recent survey found that 83% of respondents who were pet owners stated they found it difficult to find a pet-friendly rental and 56% reported having not been able to secure an apartment, due to a no-pets policy. In total, 21% of respondents reported that they had to give away a pet in order to find a rental accommodation..

Many jurisdictions have ruled that it is legal for landlords to prohibit pets from inhabiting a rental unit. There are only a few places where pet owners have the law on their side, such as Ontario, Canada. Ontario ruled that no-pet lease clauses are not legally binding and cannot be enforced (except in very specific cases, like a condo with a building-wide pet ban). It is worth noting that there are other exceptions. For example, a landlord can make a tenant move out or get rid of their animal if it causes allergic reactions to other tenants. Despite no-pets clauses being unenforceable in Ontario, they are still quite common in lease agreements. Many renters are also unaware that it’s actually not legal, in most cases.


Even when the law does allow restrictive pet policies, landlord and property managers should consider the benefits of adopting more flexible policies. Not only will allowing pets increase the tenant pool size, but it could also create a new revenue stream. Generally speaking, the following three types of fees and deposits are associated with pets in rental accommodations.


1. Pet Rent
This is a relatively new trend that involves pet owners paying a monthly rent (often somewhere between $10 - $50/month). This pet rent is non-refundable and is tacked onto the tenant’s monthly rent. In most cases, this is also on a per-pet basis; meaning that if a tenant has multiple pets, they could be paying more.

2. Pet Deposit
A pet deposit, unlike pet rent, is a one-time charge that is refundable at the end of the lease term, given there is no damage to the rental caused by the pet. These deposits are often at least a few hundred dollars and often vary according to the type of the pet.

3. Pet Fee
A pet fee is similar to a pet deposit, but it is a one-time charge that is non-refundable. A pet fee may be required in addition to a pet deposit (and sometimes in addition to pet rent!). It’s important to note that in some provinces and states, it is illegal to charge non-refundable pet fees.


If pet deposits and fees aren’t enough, some landlords have gone one step further and utilized what is known as a pet interview. In the survey mentioned above, 14% of respondents said they participated in a pet interview with their landlord.

To conclude, no-pet policies can be troublesome for renters and also pose threats to limiting the amount of eligible tenants for landlords and property managers.

SEE ALSO: 7 Ways To Create An Advantage In A Highly Competitive Student Housing Market

The Team