A cute little doggy might be the pride and joy of one occupier at a property, but a cause of endless frustration for other occupiers and interests.
And if you haven’t come across these sort of problems yet in property management, then brace yourself for when you do, for they can get personal and emotionally-charged.
Ideally, of course, this is all proactive, with everyone knowing what pets and animals are allowed to reside and visit properties, whether it's a regular dog, a series of cats all over the development, or some unusual species of snakes hidden in someone's home. However, the reality is that these things often crop up when you don't expect them to, and therefore you really need to nip them in the bud and deal with them early on.
Getting on Top of the Pet Problems
Therefore, here are five simple principles all beginning with the letter ‘p’ to help you out. No matter what type of property or interest you have, these will help steer you in the right direction to soon get these pet problem sorted.
1. Problems - Knowing What They Are
So firstly, go in open-eyed and see what the issues might be with pets at properties.
The popular ones are high noise levels, for example yapping dogs, or leaving mess and waste dotted around the development.
But you can go further with maybe certain allergies from people, or general hygiene with hairs left everywhere.
Or taking things further, you might even get damage to property by the actual pet itself or the pet-owners’ efforts such as cat flaps being placed in doors - affecting fire-resistance as well as having appearance issues.
2. Properties - They're all Susceptible
The popular property involved of course is a residential one and people's homes, particularly with communal living in a block with flats and neighbours not only wanting such pets affecting communal areas, but suffering from things like noise levels even when they are kept within their owner's areas.
But you can get this in the workplace and commercial properties as well, maybe for legitimate reasons such as blind persons needing assistance, or other times just a close affiliation.
Plus there's everything in between, so leisure properties like restaurants and pubs which may encourage dog-owners and even provide water-bowls directly outside. Or even a combination of these when you get mixed-use developments.
The secret then is to have a reality check of how this might affect every property, and if there are any easy ways to control this. So maybe having a strict needs-only basis for the workplace, or deliberately arranging a whole floor or section of a shared residential block for pet owners and their loved ones with special facilities and access for them.
3. Practicalities - What Needs Doing to Deal With Things
So getting to the nitty-gritty, see what measure can be taken to accommodate or even restrict such pets.
Maybe outside areas need cordoning off to pets, or external areas made for pets letting of steam and other necessary things. Walking areas and routes may also work, with access arrangements being made.
You may then need to look at cleaning arrangements for when things do go pear-shaped, and even special durable materials in communal areas to prevent any serious damage.
4. Permission - Getting This Issued Correctly
This needs to be really clear in all the right documentation on two levels.
Firstly, from a legal perspective, so that when people do get angry and emotional you can clearly say what the official line is.
And secondly, to make it as easy to actually explain and communicate as possible so people understand. This might be right from the early stage when prospective occupiers need a quick answer on whether their pet is allowed, to letting any new occupiers and visitors know the situation straight away.
In terms of how this is done, then ideally outline in any lease or sales contract, or at last in any ancillary building guide and rules. So even though it may not be black-and-white in a lease, the sweeper clause obliging occupiers to comply with relevant building guides may save the day.
And try to make it as specific as possible, so if it is a yes or possibility for pets being allowed, then say what criteria this needs to be, for example the landlord's reasonable judgement and whether they must take into account other votes. Plus also how quickly this is issued, and the consequences for not abiding by the rules, for example additional charges and even termination of the agreement.
One world of caution as well, to keep diplomatic and fair with people in order to leave no room for any potential human-rights claims and issues afterwards.
5. Pampering - Going the Extra Mile
As a final point, it may be worth facing the music and actually making an effort to not only accommodate pets, but really look after them.
You'll probably see more of these measures in places like the United States, and seem a little way-off, however with pets becoming more of an important part of people's lives and the property world becoming more consumer-driven, this actually begins to make more sense.
So maybe fancy parlours or spas actually developed on site, or at least local contacts and deals arranged locally. There may be grooming or washing facilities, and maybe a walking area and service as well.
And although this of course incurs an extra cost and input, not only may this filter through to better rents and values, but the opportunity to raise extra surcharges on top as well.
No More Horsing Around
So, no matter what interests you have in a property, these above five issues are for you; whether an occupier with or without the actual pet in question, a landlord trying to bring the peace, or a managing agent stuck in the middle of it all.
As you go through these above issues, then plan carefully ahead and see where the issues could be at the property and get things easily clarified and communicated to everyone.
Then, be ready and on-the-ball to deal with things quickly, ideally all in a fair and sympathetic way so that everyone doesn't make a mountain out of a molehill.
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