Money on the Table: Weighing the Cost of Unscooped Pet Waste

In an attempt to eliminate pet waste, as well as produce an optimal NOI, operators are looking to implement more proactive solutions.

Cat with bowl of money.

Image by cottonbro studio via

Pet ownership in apartment communities has increased significantly over the past few years and is showing no signs of slowing down. A 2020 Zillow survey indicates that 42 percent of multifamily residents own a pet, and according to a recent Pet Policies and Amenities Survey of more than 22,000 apartment and student-housing renters, 26 percent of pet-owning residents obtained their pet at some point during the pandemic. When considering student-housing renters only, that number jumps to a notable 39 percent.

Additionally, the most common apartment-dweller demographics consist of Millennials and Generation Z’ers, both of which are more likely to own a pet than the generations before them. In fact, Millennials account for a third of all pet owners in the United States and Gen Z, despite their young ages, represent 14 percent of U.S. pet owners. With those statistics in mind, operators have been seizing the opportunity to increase the pool of potential renters.

While there are a few apartment operators who would rather not allow pets onsite, most are modernizing their pet policies and removing pet restrictions altogether because of that broader resident pool and the monetary benefits that come with doing so. Although pet fees may vary from one community to the next, the average pet deposit is between $200 and $500, and the average monthly pet rent ranges from $25 to $100. It’s those channels of revenue that are becoming the catalyst for the change, but as with any progress, it doesn’t come without its challenges.

Unsurprisingly, unscooped pet waste is one of the biggest challenges operators face in terms of being a pet-inclusive community.

In an effort to address this challenge, many operators take reactive approaches, such opting for services to clean up their communities, and unexpectedly find they have invested money in a service that only encourages the problem. It’s expensive and it trains residents into thinking it’s okay for them to leave their pets’ waste behind because somebody else will come pick it up at a later time.

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