Millennials have higher rates of pet ownership than any other generation. And with home ownership getting delayed further and further down the line for this generation, canine parents are also increasing facing property management companies’ high pet fees.
This, unfortunately, also leads to umbrella assumptions — even bans — on certain breeds, like Pitbulls or German Shepherds.
While these dogs may be the friendliest pooch on the block, property managers don’t have a solution to get a high view of the health and behavioral history of the pet. They often therefore charge a blanket high fee for “questionable” breeds.
What if, just like car and health insurance, pet fees could be determined on an individual basis with a mathematical score?
That’s what PetScreening set out to do.
“I created PetScreening to help landlords better understand risk related to pets and their owners, because not all pet owners are equal. There are a lot of pet owners that are irresponsible and troubling,” CEO John R. Bradford, III tells Hypepotamus.
With his background in property management and legislative affairs, Bradford wanted to find a way to keep tenants accountable while rewarding responsible owners. “The pet is just a function of how it’s being raised by its owner,” he says.
The Charlotte-based startup automates the pet review process with a proprietary algorithm that reviews vet records, past behavior, microchip data and more. The dog then gets a ‘Fido score’ (1-5) that determines what “a good boy” they are.
For example, if a dog has bit someone in the past, it will be rated as more high-risk — and see its fee increased accordingly.
The platform integrates into the landlord’s existing software through API.
The tenant is asked to input all of this information at the time of the lease signing to determine the pet fee as well as provide any documentation of emotional support or disability status.
“Everything we do has legal attestations built in so that when we collect this data, which was largely self-reporting until PetScreening comes into play, they legally attest to what they’re submitting is true and accurate,” says Bradford.
The PetScreening team reviews and confirms all service dog documentation to avoid fraud — a real problem in the rental industry, says Bradford.
“There are lots of people that have real needs, real disabilities and need for those animals, but there are a lot of bad actors too who are using [fake documentation] just to get around paying pet fees,” he says.
Bradford shares that oftentimes landlords only screen the dog at the beginning of the lease and continue to renew without checking whether the dog has changed status, died, or grown.
PetScreening provides continuous monitoring, so the tenant can benefit from an adjusted rate at the time of renewal and the landlord continues to be in the know.
A puppy may receive a lower score, but once house-trained and vaccinated, may earn a higher score (and a lower pet fee).
The platform also vets renters who dog walk or dog sit as a business and will have animals on the property at any time.
The startup operates on a B2B2C model, charging an annual processing fee to the tenant. PetScreening has customers in all 50 states and Canada.
The team previously raised $1.5 million seed round led by Grotech Ventures with participation from Camber Creek and Relevance Capital. Bradford has earmarked those funds for customer acquisition and expanding the sales team in cities with high concentration areas of multi-family management companies.