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Groups pushing for more pet-inclusive housing

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Posted at 3:07 PM, Jan 26, 2022

Solutions to increasing affordable, quality housing are complex, and a critical layer often not discussed is where animals fit into the mix.

Two in three U.S. households have pets. But there's a disconnect.

About 75% of housing owners and operators consider themselves pet-friendly, but nearly the same amount of pet owners say it's hard to find animal-friendly housing.

"When you look at that, 76% of property owners and managers who say they're pet-friendly put restrictions on the number of pets, the type of pet, the weight of the pet, especially dogs — the breed," said Steven Feldman, the president of The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI). "You can have a really big, lazy dog where he can have a really active small dog, so those things don't matter."

HABRI and the Michelson Found Animals Foundation are behind the Pet Inclusive Housing Initiative. The groups found only about 8% of properties have no pet restrictions. The research points to some $1.5 billion in pet fees and deposits that could be collected.

"And, by the way, we also found that the damages they caused were very small and only for a small number of pets and that the pet fees and the security deposits were more than enough to cover it," Feldman said.

They also found other economic advantages, including pet-friendly vacancies being filled faster and people with pets staying longer.

Also, if restrictions were eased, pet owners and non-pet owners would both add to their family, creating homes for more than 8 million animals.

"Pets have been the star of the show during the pandemic," Feldman said. "They've been a real bright spot for us, so now is the time for us to really seize that moment."

Higher-end housing has picked up on these findings faster, offering incentives like dog washing areas and parks. Meanwhile, even though lower-income pet owners were better tenants than non-pet owners, they took longer to find housing.

A quarter of them said they've moved because of their pet. Some even ended up surrendering an animal, primarily due to eviction concerns.