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Pets Are Still Homeowner’s Secret Weapons

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No one knows exactly how many renters become homeowners because—or partly because–they love their dog or cat. Faced with the option of losing a loved pooch or biting the bullet and buying, certainly many more choose homeownership to keep a pet than admit it.

There’s no doubt that pet unfriendly landlords are partly to blame for the boom in animals living in shelters. Approximately 8 million animals end up in shelters each year, and moving-related issues are among the most common reasons for pet relinquishment. In an American Humane Association survey of 93 shelters across the country, “Moving” was the most common reason given by owners for relinquishing a pet, and “Landlord won’t allow” was the fourth most-common reason for relinquishment.

With 47 percent of households owning at least one dog and 46 percent owning at least one cat, according to the AHA, the apartment industry has made great strides to become more pet-friendly, at least for little pets who don’t terrorize neighbors, bark a lot or poop in the wrong place. A new survey by website Apartments.com found that 72 percent of renters surveyed says they are pet owners; a slight dip from 75 percent in 2013, but still much higher compared to just 43 percent in 2012.

Moreover, more than 80 percent of pet-loving renters believe their fellow residents either like pets or are indifferent to them living in the building. Three quarters of renters without pets says they either enjoy living in a pet-friendly building or they do not have a specific preference.

Findings from a recent Apartments.com survey reveal more than half of pet-owning renters got their pet through an animal shelter, adoption or rescue agency. A significant majority of renters surveyed own a pet, and most of these renters also believe they share their building with fellow animal lovers.

However, finding a pet-friendly rental is still a struggle. “While it is good news that most renters seem to enjoy living in pet-friendly apartment communities, the past two years have shown us the majority of pet-owning renters faced some difficulty finding an apartment that allows pets,” says Brad Long, president of Apartments.com. “We believe these trends may increase demand for new apartment construction that includes innovative pet-friendly spaces, amenities and policies, especially as, over the years, nine out of 10 renters have told us pet policies played a deciding role when choosing where to live.”

The most popular types of apartment pets cited by more than 3,000 renters surveyed in 2014 are: Cat – 41 percent; Small Dog – 39 percent; Medium/Large Dog – 34 percent; Other (Fish, Bird, Small Mammal) – 13 percent.

This year, less than 20 percent of renters surveyed says they live in a building that has no restrictions whatsoever on what type of pet they are allowed to have (down from nearly 30 percent in 2013). However, pet owners should still ask for clarification about what type of pets are allowed and any associated costs such as a pet deposit and/or monthly fee, during their apartment search.

Being a pet lover can cost you. The survey found that more renters are being asked to pay for the pleasure of having a pet. Close to 80 percent of respondents says they were required to pay a pet deposit, up from around 60 percent in 2013. This year, just over half of renters paid more than $200 annually in pet deposits and monthly fees. Since the costs of renting with a pet add up, renters searching for the most value in their next apartment may want to ask about what specific pet amenities are included within the building and its individual units.

For more information, visit www.realestateeconomywatch.com.

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