Letter from CAIRC
June 2004 Vol.8 No.1

Survey: Pets Rapidly on the Increase in Collective Housing

Pet-friendly housing complexes on the rise Residents increasingly seek information on pets in collective housing

In line with its mission of contributing to the coexistence of humans and companion animals, the Companion Animal Information and Research Center (CAIRC) has, since its establishment in 1997, dealt with the subject of pets and collective housing complexes. The majority of collective housing complexes are in urban areas, which raises the question of how people living there should coexist with dogs and cats. In order to help answer that question, we have undertaken a range of activities including the production of booklets for resident pet owners and for rental property owners, symposiums for those in charge of developing and managing property, and a "Telephone Hotline on Pets in Collective Housing" in which experts provided individual advice to callers.
With collective housing complexes that allow pets on the increase, there is already a more pet-friendly climate than in the past. Meanwhile, people are expressing an increasing need for information on topics such as how to operate pet owners clubs in their housing complexes and how to handle property bylaws. CAIRC therefore conducted a survey to establish a clearer picture of the rapidly changing situation regarding pets in collective housing.

Accelerating revision of collective housing management rules since 2000

The survey was conducted in April 2004 among management association members, pet owners club organizers, and other residents who live in collective housing and are interested in topics related to pet ownership. A total of 270 valid responses were received, of which 159 were from residents of collective housing complexes that allow pets (dogs and cats), while 111 were from residents of buildings that do not allow them.

Our analysis of the results relating to the age of a collective housing complex and its rules regarding pets showed that the newer an apartment or condominium complex the more likely it is to allow pets. In response to market demand, housing complexes have become pet-friendly in increasing numbers over the past few years. According to a 2003 study by the Real Estate Economic Research Institute, nearly half of newly built collective housing complexes allow pets in the Tokyo metropolitan area. The survey results indicate that 77% of all collective housing complexes built five years ago or less allow pets. The figure drops to 60% for buildings 6-10 years old, 58% for buildings 11-20 years old, and 47% for buildings 21 years old and over.
The survey produced some very interesting results relating to changes made in property management rules after the resident moves in. Of all housing complexes that do allow pet ownership, less than 30% did so from the outset. About half changed their management rules and allowed pets some time after residents moved in. The remaining 20% or so either have no rules relating to pets, or maintain vaguely worded rules such as "Keeping animals that pose a danger is prohibited" while interpreting the ambiguity as permission to keep dogs and cats.

A glance at the accompanying graph indicates that the increase in revisions of property management rules has been especially pronounced since 2000.
In addition, about 80% of collective housing complexes that have revised their management regulations conducted questionnaires among residents, indicating that one of the keys to success in doing so is to proceed with respect for all residents' viewpoints.

Pet-friendly housing provides more opportunities for communication among residents

Among pet-friendly housing complexes, around 80% have bylaws, under the property management rules, setting forth details on pet keeping. These primarily include provisions regarding: 1) notification, 2) keeping pets indoors, 3) limits on numbers of pets, 4) pet owners club membership, 5) size limits, and 6) vaccinations. Thus, allowing pet ownership does not simply mean going ahead in whatever way one likes. Instead, as both pet lovers and residents who do not like pets are present, great significance is placed on establishing bylaws that both can agree to.

Let's take a closer look at pet owners clubs. The survey results indicate that about 60% of housing complexes that allow pets have pet owners clubs, as do 20% of complexes that do not allow pets. Such clubs provide a venue for mutual communication. Pet owners clubs exist regardless of whether the housing complex allows pets or not, and club activities include more than just fielding complaints. They also actively promote improvements in courtesy and education on pet training. Pet owners club activities in housing complexes that allow pets include handling complaints (34%), training workshops and studying sessions on pets (18%), cleaning (14%), and others including information exchange, property inspection, and communication with non-pet owners (15%). At pet owners clubs in housing complexes that do not allow pets, work toward revising the rules to allow pets is included among these activities.
A comparison of communication opportunities for residents at complexes that allow pets with those at complexes that do not shows that 73% of the former had communication venues compared to 63% of the latter, a gap of 10 percentage points. Regarding frequency of gatherings, 25% of pet-friendly complexes held such events at least once every two to three months, while the figure was only 20% at non-pet complexes. This result is greatly pleasing to CAIRC. Raising pets can enhance daily communication. It is assumed that the experience of having had all residents gather together in part to revise the property management regulations deepened their communication with each other.

When we asked about facilities specifically for pets, we found that 90% of housing complexes did not have them. Thus, the overwhelming majority of complexes allowing pets had only pet-allowing rules without such facilities. Among the fewer than 10% of complexes with pet facilities, the most common were paw-washing facilities.

Expanded social circles centered on pet owners clubs to improve the quality of the community

Newly built condominium buildings are at the core of the increase in collective housing complexes that allow pets, and according to a 2003 study by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport's Housing Bureau, pet ownership is one of the three most common problems that arise among residents. This indicates that many issues remain to be resolved. Each community is made up of both pet lovers and those who don't like animals. And it is not inconceivable that if pet owners were to forget basic courtesies to those around them simply because pets are allowed, it could result in a trend toward banning pet ownership. It is therefore clearly necessary to establish rules and disseminate proper pet ownership courtesy and etiquette in order for pet owners and others to coexist harmoniously. This is why pet owners clubs are so important. The survey results indicate that many pet owners clubs are trying to raise the level of pet ownership courtesy and increase interactions with those who do not own pets. With daily interaction, residents will be better able to work together to resolve any problems that might arise.

Commenting on the survey results, Yukitoshi Shima, representative director of the NPO Collective Housing Management Union Association Center, said, "It is a good thing that, along with the increasing numbers of newly built pet-friendly collective housing complexes more of the existing complexes are changing their rules to allow pets. As a result, opportunities to enrich communication among residents can center around pet associations, helping to improve the quality of the community."
Therefore, when residents in collective housing think about living together with pets, this also leads to improved coexistence with their neighbors.