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10 good reasons to permit pets in strata

Why Permit Pets in Strata Communities?
Two thirds of Australian households own pets and half of all households own dogs and cats.  Pets are a valued and normal part of life for the vast majority of Australians, so it’s not surprising there is a strong demand for pet-friendly accommodation. 
Other countries, more familiar with urban consolidation, have for years successfully integrated pets into highly urbanised environments.  Europeans and North Americans have kept dogs and cats in apartments for generations. But in Australia, where we have one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world, the idea of keeping pets in an apartment or townhouse still seems relatively new.  Increasingly Australians are living in strata schemes and many would still love to own a dog or cat. Australia needs to follow in these international footsteps, and actively plan for pet ownership in strata communities.
A recent survey of medium to high-density dwellings revealed that housing limitations were the number one reason 67% of people who wanted a pet didn’t have one. This usually meant that their owners corporation or landlord didn’t allow pets.
More and more strata communities are putting pet-friendly policies in place. And they are proving that – together – pet owners and non-pet owners can create happier, healthier communities that work for everyone. 


Ten Reasons to Consider Pets in Strata
1.    Increased property values – pet-friendly strata properties sell for higher prices.
2.    Increased rental returns – pet-friendly strata investment properties rent for more money.
3.    Strong communities – pets contribute to vibrant strata communities.
4.    Better health – pet owners are happier and healthier than non-pet owners.
5.    Pets matter – for many people their pets are as important to them as family.
6.    You won’t be overrun with pets – allowing one resident to own a pet doesn’t have to mean allowing all residents to do so.
7.    Reduce euthanasia – many pets are surrendered and destroyed because their owners can’t find suitable accommodation.
8.    Prevent keeping pets in secret – better to know about pets living on the premises so residents can properly manage them.
9.    Few problems – responsible pet owners experience very few difficulties managing pets in apartments and smaller spaces.
10.    Resources are available to help implement a successful pet management policy and to help pet owners understand how to responsibly manage pets.


1.    Increased property values – pet-friendly strata properties sell for higher prices.

Australian research and financial and property experts indicate that strata premises that permit pets sell for higher amounts.  Quite simply, two thirds of Australians own pets, and by excluding pets a strata community is effectively excluding two thirds of buyers.

Many leading property experts and real estate agents have commented that pet-friendly properties sell for higher prices. Leading Sydney real estate agent and Chief Executive of McGrath Estate Agents, John McGrath, has predicted that capital gains in pet-friendly buildings will far outstrip strata buildings that ban pets.  “I can see a pet-friendly strata policy adding five per cent to a building’s value by increasing the potential number of wealthy buyers who may be interested in it.” From the article ‘Rise in pet-friendly digs’ – Sunday Telegraph 13.5.07. 
See Appendix 1 – ‘Property Experts Predict Better Financial Returns for Pet-friendly Apartments’ for multiple media quotes on this topic.

Research conducted by PRD Nationwide compared resales in a number of high-rise apartment buildings on the Gold Coast.  The outcomes indicated that buyers were prepared to pay a premium for apartments where they were permitted to keep pets.  This resulted in an increased capital growth of 5–10%. 
See Appendix 2- ‘Pets Rule in Residential High Rise Market’.  Media Release 11.9.06.  Promedia Public Relations.


2.    Increased rental returns – pet-friendly strata investment properties rent for more money.


Pet-friendly strata rental properties attract more people and have lower turnover rates and higher profitability.  Australian research reveals that many dog and cat owners would be prepared to pay more for a pet-friendly rental; in fact landlords may be able to receive from 7 to 14% more rent. Also, pet-friendly properties rent faster and the tenants tend to stay longer. 
Unpublished data from ‘Pets in the City, a qualitative and quantitative research report’, prepared by Blue Moon Research for Petcare Information and Advisory Service, June 2008)


3.    Strong communities – pets contribute to vibrant strata communities.


Australian research indicates that dogs contribute to a sense of community in strata developments by encouraging residents to interact.  New research by Dr Emma Power from the University of Western Sydney reveals that –
–    Dogs help their owners to get to know others within an apartment building and local neighbourhood, and can be valuable in creating a strong apartment community. 
–    Pet owners were keen to ensure their pets fitted in well with others in the community, and regularly helped one another with advice on training and caring for pets.

Other Australian research findings by Dr Lisa Wood from the University of Western Australia demonstrated that pets encourage social interaction and improve perceptions of neighbourhood friendliness.  Also, people walking with a dog are more likely to have conversations with other people.  Put simply, pets help people to connect.

4.    Better health – pet owners are happier and healthier than non-pet owners.

Pet owners visit the doctor less often, are less likely to report feeling lonely and exercise more.  Pets offer a fantastic antidote to many of the problems associated with modern lifestyles.  At a time when people are increasingly sedentary and socially isolated, pets encourage exercise, social interaction and provide much needed companionship.  Pets are clearly a significant part of the Australian community, but more than that, they should be seen as an important part of healthy Australian strata communities. 
See Appendix  3 –  ‘Summary of the Benefits of Pet Ownership’ also ‘Pets and Community Health’ – http://www.petnet.com.au/pets-and-community-health


5.    Pets matter – for many people their pets are as important to them as family.

Most Australians feel their pet is part of the family and care for them as such.  In fact, 91% of pet owners report feeling ‘very close’ to their pet, reinforcing the fact that pets are integral members of the Australian family unit. People tend to look after their pets as they look after other members of their family; they look after their health and hygiene, exercise and entertainment, they clean up after them and generally care well for them.  More than 83% of Australians have had a pet at some time in their lives.  Of the people who do not currently own a pet, 53% would like to own one in the future.
Data from ‘National People & Pets Survey 2006’ – http://www.petnet.com.au/publications-information


6.    You won’t be overrun with pets – allowing one resident to own a pet doesn’t have to mean allowing all residents to do so.

Each application to keep a pet should be judged on its individual merits.  Only responsibly owned pets should be permitted. A leading Sydney pet-friendly strata community, Jacksons Landing, reports that one third of the 1350 apartments in the development have pets. Approximately 200 dogs reside there, meaning that, even though every property could own a dog, only approximately 15% of premises actually have dogs. 
See Jacksons Landing case study – http://www.petsinthecity.net.au/progressive-petfriendly-developments-are…


7.    Reduce euthanasia – many pets are surrendered and destroyed because their owners can’t find suitable accommodation.

Australian animal shelters indicate that up to 30% of animals are surrendered by owners who can’t find suitable accommodation.  This creates a huge animal welfare issue and unnecessary stress for pet owners that are forced to relinquish much loved pets.  
Data from Brisbane Times, 11.1.2012. D Nancarrow. ‘ Vet Pleads for Landlords to Welcome Pets’.  


8.    Prevent keeping pets in secret – better to know about pets living on the premises so residents can properly manage them.

With many strata and rental properties prohibiting keeping a dog it’s not surprising to find that many pet owners simply don’t reveal their pet owning status on their application.  11% of tenants (mainly cat owners) indicated in the Australian research that their landlords or owners corporation were unaware that they kept pets. In the US, a study found that as many as 20% of tenants were keeping pets illegally.

Illegal pet possession is not something renters want to do. However, given that 91% of Australians feel very close to their pet, some people will take the risk. Somewhat ironically there are clearly many pets being kept secretly in strata developments that remain undetected because they do not impact the amenity of other residents.
Data from ‘Pets in the City’ – http://www.petsinthecity.net.au/overcoming-pet-permissibility-issues  also ‘Companion Animal Renters and Pet-Friendly Housing in the U.S.’ Carlisle-Frank P, Frank JM, Nielsen L, 2005,  Anthrozoos, 18 (1), 59-77


9.    Few problems – responsible pet owners experience very few difficulties managing pets in apartments and smaller spaces.

Many people mistakenly believe that you need a large house and garden to keep pets.  However, an Australian survey of residents of medium to high-density dwellings revealed that many people keep dogs and cats successfully and responsibly in high-rise apartments and small dwellings with very little difficulty.  They also reported the same high levels of satisfaction with pet ownership as the general population.  These results are not surprising, people have been keeping pets in apartments successfully overseas for many years.
See – http://www.petsinthecity.net.au/living-high-life-you-can-keep-pets-city


10.    Resources are available to help implement a successful pet management policy –

Pet Application and Pet Agreement forms have been developed by the Petcare Information and Advisory Service in conjunction with Strata Community Australia to support pet ownership in strata communities. Pet Application Forms provide a simple, standardised system that allows pet owners to present relevant and specific information relating to their pet. The form also allows the owner to provide information on the way the pet is cared for. A more informed and accurate decision can thus be made by the owners corporation or strata manager by assessing pet ownership on a case by case basis.
Pet Agreement Forms enable the owners corporation or strata manager to clearly detail their expectation as to how a pet will be kept and managed once they are approved. Such an agreement sets both a benchmark in pet keeping practices and a confirmed communication channel. The forms are available on-line and can be modified to suit individual situations and agreements.
Forms are available from – www.stratacommunityaustralia/strataliving/pets

Resources are available to help pet owners understand how to responsibly manage pets.

Studies show that Australian pet owners are becoming more and more socially responsible in the care of their pets. In the majority of cases, pet owners want to do the right thing by their pet and will seek out information in order to do so.  There is a wealth of information available to pet owners on ways that they can responsibly care for their pet. The following resources are all freely available at www.petnet.com.au

–    Pets in the City – everything you need to know about successfully keeping dogs and cats in apartments and inner-urban areas.
–    Selectapet – an on-line program to help you choose the dog or cat that is right for your lifestyle.
–    Four Legs Four Walls – a guide to housing design with pets in mind.

Property Experts Predict Better Financial Returns for Pet-friendly Apartments

 

Summary of the benefits of pet ownership