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As far as it goes, humans have always found companionship in domestic animals. The pet industry has seen remarkable growth over the years with expected market size of USD 202.6 billion by 2025.
Out of all its influences, the pet market has also found its impact on real estate, particularly the rentals. According to the National Service Animal Registry, there are currently over 200,000 emotional support animals registered and there are approximately 500,000 service dogs in America. With 67% of Americans owning pets, there is a growing demand for rentals that welcome pets in the country.
However, the spread of these vast numbers has been met by landlords with both enthusiasm and concern. While the leashes might be universal, it is not always in the landlord's control to determine whether they open their properties to dogs.
Service Animals in Public Areas
Even if privately owned, places that accommodate the public, such as an office, restaurant, or entertainment spaces, still fall as public areas. While some approach it as an effective marketing strategy, for many, the laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) do not give them much choice on whether to allow pets or not.
Those who are physically challenged can bring pets who are trained to perform specific tasks for them. For instance, they can assist blind or deaf people in navigating in public places.
However, if the disability is not apparent, proprietors will have to take them at their word. Emotional support pets are not qualified as service animals under the ADA.
Service Animals in Private Rentals
For rental homes, pet ownership comes with a whole other set of requirements. Unlike public areas, ADA's rules do not apply here. However, under the Fair Housing Act, landlords are obligated to provide accommodation for Emotional Support Animals with the tenants.
This prevents any homeowners from discriminating against any disabled person because of a service animal. They are also not allowed to charge any additional fee or deposit for the service animal.
It might not be as easy in reality. Unlike service animals, an ESA could be any pet; and that might not be feasible for the landlord. Many homeowners are concerned about this and require the tenants to get an ESA letter from a local medical professional. That said, there is no shortage of ESA abusers who take advantage of the situation and force landlords to rent houses to them without paying for any damage caused by pets.
Finding a Business Opportunity
If pets are a nightmare to some landlords, for others, it is a marketing opportunity to find more tenants. Pet owners are eager than ever to find both short and long-term accommodation that offers a welcoming attitude towards them.
The statistics show that 43.6% of people in the UK have no pets because of the tenancy agreements. A narrow 9.3% allows dogs, while the numbers are lesser for other animals. For landlords who do not mind the clean-up afterward, this presents a large share of the rental market who would want to keep their pets or have one in the future.
It is ultimately a business decision whether to allow renters to have pets or not. It is essential to weigh the pros and cons and decide what is right for your property. Remember to follow the legal requirements and make sure to adopt policies that will protect you in front of the law.