Today, property managers and landlords have very little insight into the legitimacy of their tenants’ pets. There’s very little information – let alone consistency – gathered on a potential renter’s pet.
Let’s say you own an investment property, and it’s been occupied by a nice renter with a labrador retriever – which you approved via email – for the past few months. One day, you make a scheduled visit to the house to complete some routine maintenance, you notice that the lab that was mentioned looks an awful lot like a pit bull. At this point, not much can be done.
Potential renters lie on applications because they don’t want to be turned down, and more times than not, they vouch for their pets over the phone or an email. So as the property manager, the approval process – all based on trust – is susceptible to inconstancies, lacks concrete data, and is difficult to re-trace correspondence months down the line.
Now let’s say your nice renter’s dog has an unfriendly temperament and bites someone on your investment property. In most cases, the dog owner will get sued – but it doesn’t stop there. The property owner and the property manager may also face suit.
John Bradford, who built his property management business – Park Avenue Properties which specializes in management for single-family homes – to be one of the largest in the Southeast, experienced this first hand.
“In 2015 and 2016, my company was sued twice over pet bites. And these were properties that we inherited with tenants already in place and they had pets already in place,” Bradford said.
His company essentially did nothing wrong as they didn’t place the tenants nor the pets, but as they were the property manager at the time of record, they were responsible.
Around this same time, while at a conference in March of 2016, Bradford heard the assistant deputy director of HUD give a presentation on this very issue. The majority of the industry was trying to figure out how to best operate in this gray area. So, Bradford recognized this was a huge issue.
“It was in that room that I looked around. I said, ‘I’m going to go build a product to help address this,’” Bradford said. “We need to bring some consistency, standardization, and some help on the assistance animal side too, and if I can bundle that all up in a product – I think other people like us will love it.”
Thus, PetScreening was started.
Bradford’s goal was to get a quality product up, tested and into the market as fast as possible, so he partnered with Castle Digital Partners – a local venture service firm – to make it happen.
The product benefits both the property manager and the pet owner.
For the property manager, PetScreening simplifies the pet screening process and puts structure around the pet information collected.
Bradford calls it the ABCs: affirmation, behavior, and compatibility.
When a pet owner completes a pet profile for a property rental application, he/she will affirm the accuracy of the information and understanding of the implications regarding bites and property damage. The owner will also describe the pet’s past and current behavior as pets’ temperament can vary based on breed, development, age, etc. Lastly, the pet profile will illustrate the compatibility of the pet in relation to the asset owner’s pet policy – type and breed restrictions, size limits, etc.
Simply, the PetScreening platform gives property managers an easy way to review, approve, and track their renters’ pet profiles.
There’s added benefit for pet owners, as they can leverage PetScreening as a secure pet management system to store and share their pet’s profiles and records electronically. So whether they’re going on vacation and need to share information with a dog-friendly hotel or hiring a new groomer who wants more details about the pet, they will have easy access to the pet’s profile.
In April of this year, PetScreening beta-tested with Bradford’s property management company, and after a few months of learning and working out user-experience bugs, they opened the product to the public. Bradford and the PetScreening team have designed the platform to have a simple sign-up system, so managers and pet owners can easily and quickly create an account without any handholding.
So Bradford, having built and grown a successful property management company, is more than ready to do the same in the tech space with PetScreening, while helping alleviate the pet gray area for as many as possible.
He’s also a husband, father of four, and is serving his second term in the NC House of Representatives for District 98, so his pursuit of entrepreneurship is the result of his desire to solve problems.
“If you have the entrepreneurial spirit, you just have to make the jump at some point,” Bradford said.
So his advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is: “Take the jump.”
To learn more, visit PetScreening.com.