Smell, maintenance, allergic tenants: why restrictions on dogs/pets isn't unreasonable
Last Spring, I wrote about the negatives of Amtrak's decision to allow pets on board trains--smell, maintenance, and most importantly, other passengers may have allergies to pet dander ("Amtrak's allowing cats and dogs on trains disses people with allergies").
Charity Struthers, right, holds her dog, Benny Goodman, on the roof of the Park Chelsea Apartments. (Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post)
Accommodation for dogs is an increasingly popular amenity in high end property buildings. I"An apartment building in Chelsea is luring tenants with doggie day care,"Boston Globe; "Going to the Dogs: Pet Amenities Aren’t a Luxury Anymore," Multi-Housing News, "Welcome to 'Yappy Hour': Developers lure D.C.’s dog-lovers with parks and perks," Washington Post).
Historically, this level of accommodation hasn't been present in public housing. The Washington Post reported earlier this week ("Some pets now allowed for disabled and elderly residents in D.C. public housing") that in senior housing buildings, the DC Housing Authority will remove most restrictions on having pets.
But some advocates say that the policy doesn't go far enough. From the article:
For a large majority of public-housing tenants — meaning thousands of people living in apartment complexes that are not designated strictly for elderly and disabled residents — the no-pets rule will still apply. Among those tenants, the only people exempt from the prohibition are residents who are legally certified as needing pets or service dogs to help with mobility or emotional problems. That has been the case for years.My response. There is a difference between a ban and a restriction. I do think it's reasonable to extend the ability to have pets across the portfolio of public housing properties, not only for senior and disabled tenants. However, there is no reason to not limit certain types of pets--dogs and cats in particular--to particular floors or buildings, to constrain the potential for problems.
Because of the continuing ban, the two biggest advocacy groups for allowing pets in public housing say they are not satisfied with the revised policy. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Rescue Alliance called the housing authority’s decision merely “a positive first step.”
The groups argue that all tenants should be allowed to keep pets. In reviewing the pet policies of 150 public-housing agencies in the United States, the ASPCA says, it found that only three are as strict as the D.C. regulations.
Usually, to control for smell, maintenance, and allergies, for profit housing organizations tend to "restrict" pets to particular buildings or wings of buildings. And they charge for the privilege of having a pet.
From the Globe article:
A dog lover himself, Szary gambled that the convenience of an on-site doggy day-care facility, in addition to standard luxury amenities like hot tubs, game rooms, and fire pits, would be key in attracting young professionals to Chelsea. One North charges $50 a month per dog, and $35 for each cat. It reserves the right to restrict so-called aggressive breeds and limits dogs to two per unit. The day care is an additional $19 a day.Restricting pet accommodation to particular floors and buildings is a reasonable action for public housing authorities, just as it is for privately owned housing.
I do think it's worth considering adding a small monthly fee for allowing animals, to cover the costs they incur to the property.
And take it the next step and add, where appropriate, dog parks and other placemaking accommodations on public housing sites.