Snow way, Spot! How to keep your furry friends safe this season

Community association residents love their pets, so keeping them safe in the winter should be a top priority. Here are some ways you can ensure Fido and Felix stay warm, happy, and out of harm’s way even on the dreariest of winter days.

These paws were made for walking—to a point. Watch out for sidewalk salt. Pets’ paws are extremely sensitive, so prolonged exposure to sidewalk salt can be problematic. If you walk your dog regularly in areas where sidewalk salt is used during inclement weather, wipe the underside of paws with warm water and a clean towel when you go inside. Doing so also eliminates risk of ingestion if your pup licks its paws often. Keep an eye on your pet’s toe pads for severe dryness, cracking, or bleeding.

The weather outside is frightful. So bring your pets indoors. In the summer, when temperatures reach extreme highs, pets should be brought inside. The same is true for winter, when temperature reach extreme lows. This applies for daytime and nighttime. Remember, if you’re uncomfortable with the outside air temperature, chances are your pet is too.

Why don’t we bundle up, Buttercup. When pets do go outside during the winter, those with thinner fur coats may need extra warmth. Your local pet store should have an assortment of extra layers for your dog—even winter boots for pups who need extra paw protection from the cold and ice. Only add layers if your pet can truly benefit. If you’re unsure, consult your veterinarian.

All work sleep and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Keep your pets active throughout the winter. During inclement weather, when you can’t make it outside with your pup, set aside some extra time during the day to make sure they get some exercise—even 15 minutes of playtime helps. Paying attention to your pup keeps them engaged and happy, and ensures no bad behavior caused by boredom.

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Doggy DNA Testing Forcing Residents to Pick up after Their Pets

People love their pets. Regardless if you live in a community association, there is nothing worse than waking up to a pile of pet poop in your front yard. But the problem isn’t that the pets are out of control, it’s that residents don’t take accountability for their pets.

With a surge of residents disregarding signs and choosing not to follow mandated rules, communities now are turning to “doggy DNA” testing.

Dog owners provide the community association with a DNA sample of their pet, typically a cheek swab, which is then sent to a lab where it is registered. If the dog goes in the neighborhood and it isn’t disposed of, the community association can send the sample to the lab for testing. If there is a match, the pet owner is fined.

CAI’s Chief Executive Officer Tom Skiba, CAE, recently spoke to the Capital Gazette about this problem.

A “very small minority” of community associations have started taking these steps in the past five years to curb poop problems, especially as DNA testing has become more cost-effective and accessible, says Skiba.

“It’s not about not liking pets, it’s not about the dogs. It’s about pet owners acting disrespectfully to their neighbors,” explains Skiba. “The boards have already tried all that they can, and they have an obligation to address this for an aesthetic and health reasons. They finally will run out of options, and this DNA testing is the last technologically enabled high-tech option you can find.”

Community associations typically won’t dish out funds for DNA testing methods unless they’ve tried everything else, including putting up notices, posting pet rules on a website, mentioning it in board meetings, and more.

Should community associations have to take these extreme measures to solve this pet problem?

Think about it, and make sure to carry an extra bag with you on your walk.

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Why Scoop the Poop?

Americans adore their pets. More than 43 million dogs and 36 million cats live in U.S. households—and many of them belong to the 68 million Americans who live in homeowners associations, condominiums, cooperatives, and common-interest communities. Besides being a nuisance, uncollected pet waste is a serious problem. Remember these facts:

1. Under the Clean Water Act, community associations could be fined by the Environmental Protection Agency if pet waste goes uncollected. If fined by the EPA, a community association could face a potential special assessment that would be levied against all residents—not just pet owners.

2. The appearance and quality of the common areas are known to affect home sales—not just whether and for how much they sell, but how quickly.

3. The more residents complain about pet waste, the more time board members and community managers must spend on enforcement rather than serving the association.

4. Uncollected pet waste can spread disease and attract rodents who feed on pet waste.

Read more about pet problems and solutions in Pet Policies: How Community Associations Maintain Peace & Harmony.

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Should You Allow Pets in Your Property? 10 Considerations for Landlords, Property Managers & HOAs

True story: At a real estate event last week, one of the panelists (a real estate developer) said, “When I was in my thirties, everyone was getting married and having babies. Today, Millennials are getting pets!”

It’s true–and it’s not just Millennials who have pets: An estimated 65% of American households have at least one pet.

However, most landlords, property managers, and homeowners associations give pause to residents with pets. Some consider pets to be a liability–and in some cases, that may be true. However, there are also tremendous benefits to offering pet-friendly housing.

Here’s our rundown of things to consider if you’re wondering whether you should allow pets in your community.

Should You Allow Pets in Your Property?

Consideration #1: Allowing Pets Can Attract More Residents

Pet-friendly properties can help you to attract more prospective residents. Many of the new buildings coming online are designed with animal owners in mind. They offer dog wash stations, enclosed dog parks, and even doggy daycare. You don’t have to go to such extreme lengths at your property–just allowing pets will draw a larger pool of prospects.

Should You Allow Pets in Your Property?

Consideration #2: Allowing Pets Can Bring in Additional Revenue

Some animal lovers are willing to pay more to live in a pet-friendly property. There’s no doubt that animals cause additional wear and tear on units. You can account for that by charging animal owners a slight premium (e.g., $50 more per month). In markets where pet-friendly properties are hard to come by, many pet owners would gladly pay a premium to keep Fido by their side.

Should You Allow Pets in Your Property?

Consideration #3: Allowing Pets Can Help You to Retain Residents

People with pets might be inclined to stay longer. Because pet-friendly units are often hard to come by, people with pets might think twice before moving. Others may hold off on moving if they feel that doing so would disrupt their pet’s routine. Lower turnover = less time spent marketing units, more consistent cash flow, and an overall higher return on your investment.

Should You Allow Pets in Your Property?

Consideration #4: Allowing Pets Can Attract More Responsible Residents

Animal owners are often more stable tenants. Taking care of an animal is no easy task! It requires a person to be at least marginally responsible. If they’re responsible enough to take care of their pets, they’ll probably be responsible enough to care for your unit, pay rent on time, and give adequate notice if they decide to move.

Should You Allow Pets in Your Property?

Consideration #5: Some Insurance Policies Place Restrictions on Pets

Check with your insurance company before allowing pets. Some insurance policies specifically prohibit animals (or animals over a certain size) from living on the property. If you decide that you do want to allow pets, you’ll want to be sure to adjust your insurance policy accordingly. Some insurance policies charge more for (or ban) specific breeds of pets, so be sure to look at that, too. Otherwise, if one of the resident’s animals were to cause harm–to another resident, another pet, or the property–you could be on the hook for costly damages.

Should You Allow Pets in Your Property?

Consideration #6: Meet Pets Before You Allow Them to Move In

Consider “interviewing” the pet. This may sound crazy, but hear us out. Just as you screen residents, you should also screen pets. Start by asking a prospective resident about their pet. How long have they had the pet? Where did they get them? How old are they? Has the pet ever done damage to a person or property? Who will care for the pet? Do they have proper vaccinations and licenses? This will give you the baseline detail about the pet situation. Then, take it a step further by asking to meet the pet. You’ll generally be able to get a sense of the animal’s demeanor within the first few minutes; so “interviewing” the pet will help you to determine whether that animal will be a good fit for your property.

Should You Allow Pets in Your Property?

Consideration #7: Make Your Pet Policy Clear in Your Lease

Be sure that your pet policy is detailed in your lease. Whether you decide to allow pets or not, your lease agreement should make your restrictions and expectations clear. Specify whether pets are allowed, and if so, the type and number of pets allowed. If certain breeds are banned (e.g. those defined as “dangerous breeds”), say so. You might also include restrictions on the size or weight of pets allowed. Don’t forget to include language as to whether visitors are allowed to bring their pets, and if so, under which conditions.

The lease should go on to define the responsibilities of the pet owner. For instance, you might stipulate that all dogs are required to be on a leash when outside the unit. Maybe you ban animals from specific areas, like the pool or the clubhouse.

Finally, you’ll want to outline a procedure in the event that an animal becomes a nuisance. The last thing that you want is to lose other great tenants because of a dog that barks at all hours of the night! Include language in your lease that states your warning and/or penalty system in the unfortunate case that a pet becomes a problem to others.

Should You Allow Pets in Your Property?

Consideration #8: Use Security Deposits to Offset Property Damage

Security deposits can insulate you from damages caused to your property by pets. We generally encourage landlords, property managers, and HOAs to charge the maximum security deposit allowed by state law. This is especially true if you’re going to allow people to have pets. Some states allow landlords to charge an additional “pet deposit,” which, on average, ranges from 40 to 80 percent of the monthly rent. Part or all of that deposit may be refundable, depending on your local laws. These deposits can be held to cover any routine or accidental damages cause by someone’s four-legged friend.

Should You Allow Pets in Your Property?

Consideration #9: Should You Require Renter’s Insurance?

Your homeowner, landlord, or business insurance policy should cover you for damage caused by pets–but just in case, you can also require tenants to have renter’s insurance. Renter’s insurance won’t cover damage to the premises caused by pets. Instead, it protects the renter in the event that the animal bites or otherwise injures someone. If this were to happen, both you and the tenant would likely be named in a lawsuit, and renter’s insurance will ensure that the renter has at least some basic coverage for his or her defense.

Should You Allow Pets in Your Property?

Consideration #10: Pet-Friendly Units Can Take Longer to Refesh

Even the most well-behaved pets can cause substantial wear and tear to units. As a result, pet-friendly units can take longer to make rent-ready. For example, I purchased an apartment once where a police officer had lived with his K-9 dog. The dog was lovely, but it wasn’t until after he moved out that I started to notice all of the small wear and tear–which, in aggregate, took a lot of effort to repair. There were small scratches on the doors, a few bite marks on window sills, and I think it took two years before the last of the dog hair was completely out of the HVAC system! And I consider myself lucky: Animals can also bring smells that can be tough to get out. So if you’re planning to allow pets, just build in enough time to make units rent-ready before releasing down the line.

Landlords, property managers, and HOAs already have a lot to consider. Adding pets into the mix can seem like an unnecessary complication. In our experience, however, pets can be a wonderful addition to your property!

If you’re struggling to create or enforce a pet policy, consider hiring a property manager. An experienced property manager will be well-versed in how to handle furry friends of all shapes and sizes. When you’re ready to search for a property manager in your area, All Property Management will be here to help.

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