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Rental market shifts toward catering to pet owners

More than 70 percent of apartment renters reported owning pets, with cats and dogs the most popular types, according to a survey released last week.

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Despite the high pet ownership numbers, the survey by Apartments.com found that it may still be hard for renters to find a pet-friendly apartment.

Nearly two-thirds of pet owners in 2014 reported having some difficulty finding an apartment that allows pets, but the rental listing website said that may be changing.

"We see the rental industry moving toward accommodating the needs of this important and growing segment of renters," said Tammy Kotula, spokesperson for Apartments.com.

The survey found that apartment buildings' pet policies played a major role in the decision about where to rent for nearly nine out of 10 pet owners.

Seventy percent of pet owners said their choice of where to rent was influenced by nearby pet amenities, such as parks, veterinary facilities and pet stores.

"We believe these trends may increase demand for new apartment construction that includes innovative pet-friendly spaces, amenities and policies," said Brad Long, president of Apartments.com.

In downtown Los Angeles, for example, the newly opened Avant South Park Apartments hopes to appeal to dog owners with amenities such as a "bark park" and a dog-grooming station. It also has a dog walker and groomer on site.

"It's not like a make-or-break deal," said Adam Schaller, a leasing agent at the building, which held its grand opening at the end of June. "It's just an extra perk."

Schaller said a little less than half of the apartments had been leased so far and around 35 percent are occupied. He estimated that about one-quarter of the residents own pets.

Pet owners at Avant pay a deposit and monthly fee per pet, Schaller said, which the survey found was not unusual. Nearly 80 percent of respondents said they were required to pay a deposit — up from about 60 percent in 2013 — and about a third said they had to pay monthly fees.

The majority of pet owners paid more than $200 annually in deposits and fees, the survey found. But renters split on whether these charges made them less likely to rent from a particular property, with 53 percent saying it would.

A new luxury high-rise in downtown LA has a rooftop dog run and partners with local businesses to provide petsitting, dog-walking and in-home grooming services, said Josh Lloyd, West Coast vice president for Wood Partners, which owns the development.

Lloyd said the company does demographic research to determine what amenities it will provide, and pet ownership has been a growing trend influencing those decisions. He said up to 30 percent of residents now own pets and not just cats and small dogs, but large dogs as well. "You have to adapt to that," Lloyd said. "You want to be able to support that as a housing provider."

Michael Dillon, president of Dillon Media, which publishes an annual report on the pet industry, said pet ownership and spending in the United States are at record highs. Buildings that feature innovative pet amenities could be in "huge demand," he said, because pet owners still face challenges when it comes to finding a place to live.

Lloyd said that several years ago the trend among property owners was more restrictive toward pets, but that has changed.

"Now it's almost like the other way around, where people go out of their way to accommodate them," Lloyd said. "There's been a 180 (-degree turn) on how people look at pets."

Rental market shifts toward catering to pet owners 08/15/14 [Last modified: Friday, August 15, 2014 12:13pm]
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