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In Baltimore, apartments aim to win over renters by appealing to their pets

Sarah Gantz, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in Home and Consumer News

BALTIMORE -- Laura Goodell and her fiance didn't have a dog when they came to Baltimore a year ago for graduate school -- yet. The Equitable Building's rooftop dog run helped sell them on the apartments in a converted former office building.

"It was my hope we'd adopt," Goodell said. "This kind of amenity isn't something every building has."

Asher, the four-year-old lab mix the couple adopted in May, seems to approve of the space to romp. On a recent post-workday trip to the run, he wagged his tail and stomped his paws, egging on Goodell to toss his favorite ball.

Apartments weren't always so willing to accept pets, let alone roll out the AstroTurf for them. But with a crush of new apartments in Baltimore and more on the way, building managers competing for tenants can't afford to pass on pets anymore.

Dog runs, relief areas, washing stations and treats at the door are becoming more common in large apartment projects as managers look to draw in new renters by winning over their pets.

The concierge desk at The Equitable displays a photo of one good boy pup or nice kitty as Pet of the Month. And yappy hours in the building's penthouse are an exercise in doggie decadence, with treats and tennis balls galore.

"So many people expect it these days," said Brian Roche, who manages the Bozzuto Group property. "If somebody was going to be starting a community or property, they'd definitely put themselves at a disadvantage if they didn't allow pets."

The trend is driven by -- you guessed it -- millennials.

About two-thirds of millennial households are rentals and millennials are the country's biggest pet-owning demographic, with just over a third of pets in their care.

As the oldest millennials near the traditional family-building and home-buying age, apartment buildings are under even more pressure to up the ante on amenities that could convince them to stay.

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