Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Rental Units Welcome Some Pets

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Rental Units Welcome Some Pets

Article excerpt

Homeowners often become apartment renters after a divorce or job loss. Their pets sometimes end up in shelters because so many landlords have firm "no pets" policies.

"That's an unnecessary situation," said Paul Bellatoni, a regional vice president for Morgan Communities, which is based in Rochester, N.Y., and has 4,700 rental units in the Pittsburgh area.

The company recently sent out a news release trumpeting its pet-friendly rental policies, and it's clear that some of its properties go way beyond just letting dogs and cats in. Many of the changes have come over the past two years.

The properties hold pet ice cream socials, parties for dogs and holiday costume parades. Some have pet parks or walking trails outfitted with waste stations. There are "puppy plunges" the day after swimming pools are closed to people for the season.

"We are very proud of our position," said Mr. Bellatoni, who admits it was mainly a business decision. "Surveys show about 70 percent of renters have pets."

Tracy Geier, another Morgan vice president, said: "Rental communities with advanced pet amenities create a much more social environment for the humans, who tend to be more active outside, more conversational and interested in socializing."

Many people in the apartment rental industry have a negative mindset about pets, Mr. Bellatoni said. But Morgan Management LLC, which runs apartments in Pennsylvania, Ohio and 11 other states, has not reported widespread problems with pets ruining carpets or trashing apartments.

"My experience has been pet owners are the most respectful people," Mr. Bellatoni said.

They're loyal, too. When they decide to move up to a better apartment, they often look in Morgan Communities.

In the Pittsburgh area, rents at Morgan apartments range from $700 a month up to $2,000 and higher. There are a few catches for a pet-owning tenant. There's a pet fee, generally about $30 a month, which pays for the events and amenities available for pets, including pet treats handed out in offices.

There's also a nonrefundable pet deposit, usually $200 to $300, because when pets move out, a more intensive cleaning and sanitizing process is needed, Mr. …

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