Why Is It So Hard to Find Pet-Friendly Rentals in Central New York?
With pet ownership skyrocketing to record high levels, why are apartments sitting in the past?
When I began apartment hunting in Central New York, I was determined to bring both my cat and dog with me. I thought it would be easy, considering I was already coming from an area that welcomed pet owning renters with open arms.
I soon learned Central NY was a completely different animal.
Pet ownership skyrocketed since the 80s
Before I jump into my spiel, here's a few facts from Forbes that I hope every landlord reads.
Sixty-six percent of all U.S. households own a pet, which translates to 86.9 million homes. In 1988, that number was 56 percent.
Millennials make up the grand majority of current pet owners, with 33 percent of us taking up a slice of the pie. Gen X had the second-most pets at 25 percent while Baby Boomers claimed third with 24 percent.
Not only that, pet ownership took off across the board during the pandemic, allowing for more people to fall in love with a cat, dog, hamster... or whatever.
People are so in love with their pets, they dumped $136.8 billion into the economy buying stuff just for them in 2022. That's a significant jump from 2021, when pet owners spent $123.6 billion.
Even more, people who have pets tend to come from higher tax brackets. Households that earn over $100,000 a year made up the majority of all cat and dog owners in the United States.
In all, these sound like the people landlords want, right? Who wouldn't want tidy, considerate and financially stable tenants?
So why do apartments reject pet owners?
Landlords might worry that pet owners pose a certain risk to their property. Of course not all pet owners are perfect and it's likely there are people who just don't care if their pet damages their apartment beyond repair or bothers the neighbors with nonstop noise.
However, it appears that type of pet owner accounts for a very small number of tenants based on recent statistics.
Rental experts have found that pet owners are actually better tenants than non-pet owners. The main theories of this finding is that pet owners are more responsible since they typically earn more and are more likely to take care of their homes.
Experts say cat and dog owners are willing to cough up the cash to keep their beloved pet out of trouble. Findings also claim dog owners will spend the extra dough to consult with trainers or even board their pups during the day to keep in line.
Additionally, studies have found pet owners are willing to pay a handsome premium to keep their beloved family member under the same roof.
A recent survey from AgentAdvice.com found that pet-owning tenants would cough up $4,508 in annual fees or expenses to hold onto their beloved animal.
In all, pet owners tend to keep a close eye on their animals because they don't want to lose them.
Central NY needs to reevaluate pet owning tenants
Unfortunately, during my apartment hunt, I was either priced out of places that accepted all pets or came across rentals that wouldn't be a great fit for my animals. Or me, for the matter.
I remember seeing one rental's pet security deposit and thinking to myself that money could buy a gently used luxury car.
I scoured Apartments.com, Zillow, Craigslist and every rental site known to man. I even sought the assistance of a well known realtor to help find me something. Believe me, I searched high and low.
In the end, my job was starting and I had to settle on something, despite only having two viable options. Eventually, I picked the place within my budget... even though it only accepted one small pet.
In the meantime, my parents will hold onto my rough collie, Harvey, until I find a dog-friendly place the next year. While I know he is in capable hands, it shattered my heart to know I'd be moving up to Utica without my best friend.
"But Megan," you may ask, "Isn't your cat also your best friend?"
Here's the thing about Phoebe. She's not stuck with me... I'm stuck with her.
All kidding aside, I have a line of people who'd be willing to babysit Harvey. Phoebe? Not so much.
But I wouldn't trade her for the world. Or for an apartment in Central NY.
Hopefully, we will see landlords soften their views on pet owners in the future and reap the benefits!