If you have decided that the property you own or manage will accept pets (review "Boosting property income by accepting pets"), your next step is to make your property pet-friendly.
Being pet-friendly not only results in happier pet-owning residents, who will lease longer, but it reduces your need to handle complaints and other pet-related problems. Here are the two important steps in making your property pet-friendly.
Step 1: Set up a dog park on your property.
Start by thinking of pets as residents, too, just with different needs. One of their big needs, of course, is a place to play and get exercise. A dog park is the perfect solution, and they're easy to implement. Below are some guidelines you can follow to help create a successful dog park.
1. Find the location: Find an open area of ground that can be fenced to provide a place for dogs to play off-leash. If your property grounds are limited, this area can be as small as the size of a tennis or basketball court.
2. Add seating: So your human residents can sit while their dogs play, you should add a few benches. These do not have to be high quality or expensive, as it's likely that some dogs will sit on them as well.
3. Add a drinking area: Dogs need water, especially when they are exercising. It's smart to add a water fountain so owners can access water for their dogs. To help prevent the area from becoming muddy around the fountain, it's best to mount the water fountain on a minimum 3' x 4' area of concrete.
4. Post signage outlining simple dog park rules: Since you have carefully screened the dogs and dog owners before they are accepted as residents you have already reduced the potential problems that might occur in a dog park with aggressive or untrained animals. It's smart, however, to post rules that cover the following issues:
- Official dog park hours (these are typically sunrise to sunset).
- Dog owners must be in the park and within view of their dogs at all times.
- Dogs must be leashed when entering and exiting the park.
- Dogs must be current on all vaccinations and must wear vaccination and owner identification tags.
- No children under the age of 15 should be permitted in the park unless accompanied by an adult.
- Owners must use doggie poop bags to clean up after their dogs and dispose of those bags in designated receptacles.
- Owners must fill any holes dug by their dog.
- Failure to abide by the park rules may result in loss of privileges.
- To protect your property from liability, it's also important to include a disclaimer stating, "This dog park is for residents of [Name of Property] only. It is for use at your own risk and [Name of Property] assumes no responsibility for accidents or injuries."
Step 2: Make it convenient for owners to clean up after their pets.
The last thing you want is your property covered with dog feces, so you need to make it easy for owners to clean up after their pets. The easiest way to manage pet waste disposal is to install cost-effective pet waste stations. It has been proven that providing dog owners with doggie poop bags can improve compliance by at least 150%. You can use this handy chart to calculate the number of dog waste removal stations you may need on your property.
For Apartment Communities: Start by installing one pet waste station with dog poop bags every 160 yards within the area. Placing dog waste removal stations throughout your property makes it easy for residents to clean up after their pets. Putting stations near the mailboxes, pool, and parking spaces are all good areas.
For Residential Areas: Condos, mobile home communities, Home Owner Associations (HOA) and more should place one pet waste station for every 40 homes or units. Keep in mind if the residential homes/units are really spread out, you may need a pet waste station for every 25-30 homes/units.
Once installed, it's smart to monitor the pet waste disposal bag usage, and place additional pet waste stations if the cans are filling up or the dispensers are running out of bags more than once a week.
Taking these steps to be pet-friendly will show up on your property's bottom line in reduced turnover and more loyal, satisfied residents.