There is a housing affordability crisis.

You have read the articles. You know the facts. But even more concerning to Pawster, there is a severe shortage of pet-friendly affordable housing. In Davidson County, home values have increased by 31% over the last year. There are an average of 30 evictions filed every day. Besides evictions, people lose housing for all sorts of other reasons: Domestic violence, extended hospitalization, job loss, etc. And at least half of these residents own a dog or cat.

What happens to pets when a family loses housing?

Well, that depends. In today’s housing market, most people will not find affordable, pet-friendly housing. Faced with the impossible decision to give up their pet or settle for housing that is not pet-friendly, some will choose to remain homeless rather than give up their pet. Others will surrender their pet to a shelter that is already overflowing with pets. At last count, Metro Animal Care & Control, the municipal shelter for Davidson County, was housing 168 animals. They have the capacity to house 48. According to the latest data available, 1 pet is euthanized per day in Davidson County.

Pawster provides foster care during a crisis to help stem the flow of unnecessary surrenders, but… here’s the thing:

This problem is entirely preventable. There is a dual crisis of pet-friendly housing and overflowing animal shelters. And one solution can help solve both crises:

Make rental housing pet-friendly.

That’s it. Sounds simple, right? Because it is.

If the people in charge of setting pet policies take a few simple steps to make their housing more accessible for people with pets, a lot of problems can be solved at once.

And here’s the icing on the cake: Making rentals pet-friendly is also better for business.

First, and most importantly, pet owners cost landlords less money than people without pets.

Let’s say that again: People with pets cost landlords less money than people without pets.

Family of 4 with dog outside home.

Here’s why: Since roughly half of potential tenants own a pet, becoming pet-friendly opens up your overall pool of applicants, creating lower vacancy time. Pet owners also stay in rentals longer, and they are generally more responsible because they are used to caring for pets. Still not convinced? Check out this article from property management platform Pendo listing all the benefits of going pet-friendly.

But “Pet-Friendly” can mean a lot of things. It can be tempting to exploit people with pets for every last penny. But if you really want to make a difference in solving the crises we’re facing, please consider making your policies actually friendly to pets.

Our Pet-Friendly Recommendations:

  1. Go easy on the pet deposits. As previously stated, pet owners will save you money in the long run. Given the extreme rise in rental prices, an exorbitant pet fee only hurts families who are barely getting by. Ask what it actually costs you to allow pets, and cap your fee at the actual cost.
  2. Say “bye-bye” to breed/size restrictions. They are scientifically unfounded, outdated, and rooted in racist policies. End of story. Even if you wanted to guess which breeds are more prone to aggression, they probably aren’t the breeds you think (Spoiler alert: Smaller breeds tend toward aggression). Breed and size restrictions are just not a good way to create policy. Instead, evaluate each dog as it comes to you. Ask for a veterinary reference. Better yet, ask for a pet resume. It’s perfectly reasonable to want to keep your community safe. But don’t rely on unreliable stereotypes about breeds to do that for you.
  3. Go easy on number limits. Multiple pets are often better socialized, easier to care for and less prone to anxiety that can result in destruction of property. In simple terms: Pets keep each other entertained. Instead of setting arbitrary limits on the number of pets a tenant can have, evaluate each family on a case-by-case basis. 3 adult dogs who sleep all day will likely be easier on your property than 1 little puppy. It’s always better to treat each family as a unique case.

That’s it! Are you a landlord who has chosen to make your property pet-friendly? We’d love to hear from you about your experiences. Together, we can help put a dent in the overwhelming crises facing pets and their people.