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Transcript

A Podcast | John Bradford:

This transcript may contain errors.

Pete Neubig:
Welcome everybody to the NARPM podcast. Thank you for joining us today. However you may be listening. iHeartRadio, iTunes, YouTube or through any of the podcast platforms? Thank you for being here. I'm your host, Pete Neubig, and we have a great show today. We have John Bradford with Park Avenue properties and pet screening in North Carolina to discuss what a pet is not a pet. The ABCs of Essays. So for those of you who do not know, John John is the founder of Park Avenue Properties in North Carolina and Pet Screening. So he's a entrepreneur and started two businesses. So anyone that knows John, though, knows that really. John Jen Stoops really runs Park Avenue property, so let's be honest, right? So he's serving his third term in the North Carolina House of Representatives. In his spare time, he likes to fish, camp and travel with his family. So he owns two companies and is in the House of Representatives. So I can't imagine he actually. I mean, the fact that he actually still has time to fish and camp with his family is amazing. Shows you how he has great. He has great command of his time management. So a couple of things I didn't know about John when I ask them for his bio is that he has climbed the tallest mountain in the lower forty eight. What mountain was that? John Mount Whitney Whitney? All right. And John was a college mascot. So quick story. When I first moved to Houston, I became very friendly with Clutch.

Pete Neubig:
The Rockets Bear and I have been in mascot skits for about four or five years with the Houston Rockets. I was on the court with Charles Barkley and Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon and a bunch of other Hall of Famers in me. And which one of these does not belong there, right? So. So that's great. That's great. That he was a college mascot, did not know that. So we're going to talk a little bit. We're going to talk a lot to John here in the next few minutes. But first, I want to go over our hot topic for the day, the hot topic. So because we have pat screening on here, I want to talk a little bit about pet fees, the pet fee versus the pet deposit or the pet fee versus pet rent or how, you know, to charge bullish, we charge all. What should we charge, right? And so I like I like not charging, so I'm using a negative here, but I don't like charging an upfront fee if I can charge a monthly fee. And there's a couple of reasons for that, right? So I don't like charging a pet fee up front because it's a little bit of a barrier to entry. We're already asking people to pay one month and two months rent, right? One month rent plus plus a security deposit, and maybe there's some a couple of other fees. Maybe there's a lease processing fee or whatever fee. So if I can get rid of that up upfront fee and charge a monthly pet fee, then that's going to make me more money over the long haul.

Pete Neubig:
Now, for those of you who are greedy and want to do both or you can do both because that's in your market. God bless you. Go for it. I like just doing one or the other. I'm not a big fan of a pet deposit. I'd rather a pet fee over a pet deposit. And the reason why I like a pet fee over a pet deposit is because we already have too many challenges with our security deposit dispositions. This just gives us another battle to fight with with a resident when they're asking money from their from their pet deposit. So I'm already fighting with a security deposit and I get fine with a pet deposit. So just give me one more thing for a resident to fight me over or to take me to court. Ok, so I I like a monthly pet fee over monthly pet rent, and the main reason is a monthly pet fee. That is a fee that I, as the property manager, is going to take. Ok, where monthly pet red, that's going to typically go to the owner and then I may get a percentage of that if I'm a percent based fee based property manager. Now you can't just charge fees to people and not have something in return to give them. Right. So for the resident, by charging a monthly fee that allows them to have their dog and their in their property and allows them to not have that one time fee.

Pete Neubig:
So it's a little bit easier for them to get in the property. But for the owner that especially if they were getting a pet rent what we we we used to back it up an empire with a pet guarantee where if a resident does damage, the resident's pet does damage above and beyond a security deposit, then we would guarantee or promise that we would pay X amount of dollars above and beyond the the pet, the pet damage. And so this way it's a win win win, right? The resident only pays a monthly fee. The owner gets a instead of a $200 a three hundred dollars pet deposit. They're getting a much, you know, a 10 times that, maybe a two thousand to two thousand five hundred dollars type of of promise. So they get a much bigger. They get they they get more, you know, what am I looking for, John? The word is that they get more security, if you will. So that's my kind of my rent of the day on on, on pet fees. And we'll talk a little bit more, John, about about about all of that stuff. So. So, Johnny, thank you for joining me. I really appreciate you. We go back a few years ago, so real quick. How did you get into the PM business and then how did you make the pivot in starting pet screening?

John Bradford:
Yeah. So first of all, Pete, thanks for having me to your show here and you're doing a great job and love that intro. So I was a sales executive for IBM Corp. for a decade, literally ten years. I left five days shy of my 10 year anniversary and I was in sales and I was able to meet all my targets and quotas, probably another way of saying that. And so I saved my little commissions like a chipmunk and I started buying real estate. This was really in the years of two thousand five through seven before the market crashed, maybe two thousand three through five as maybe the better years of when I was doing it. But I was just buying homes as rentals and I was buying them for myself. And next thing I know had a couple of other IBM colleagues that said, Hey John, go find me a house. I actually went to night school. I went to a local community college to get my real estate license in North Carolina, where licensure state, not all states. I think most states have licenses for real estate, but I don't know if all states do. The North Carolina does. So I had to go to class. I went at night and once I got my license, I was representing myself and saw that, Hey, I can make a good living representing other's investors, if you will, and then turning around and managing them.

John Bradford:
And that's really how Park Avenue was born. I picked the name that I thought sounded sexy. I thought Park Avenue property sounded a lot better than John Bradford Properties, and so it was available and our secretary of state database. So I locked it down. You know, I did. I had Park Avenue for the better of 12 13 years. Last December, I actually did Roll Park Avenue properties up into a company called Pure. I don't know if you know that or not, but Park Avenue Properties is still now a pure company, and I did that for a lot of different reasons. But most important, you know, people like Jennifer who was truly running Park Avenue, you know, she continued, People and I know no doubt, you know, she works hard and I think people in industry know that. And it was important to me that there was an opportunity for her and the rest of my employees. I wanted everyone to have an opportunity and pure. I think clearly gave us that and they're proving it. They've done amazing work in just a year. So I had the, you know, I serve in the House of Representatives. I think many of your listeners may know that and you mentioned it in my bio. So I started public service. Gosh. Nine years ago, Pete started off as a town councilman. We call them commissioners, and so I was a town commissioner and then a opportunity presented itself to run for the North Carolina House of Representatives.

John Bradford:
So in 2000, I guess 14, I ran and so I served a couple of terms and in my third term now. And I was in a meeting, actually 20. I remember this twenty sixteen. I was at the Las Vegas Nahum Broker conference and I had just rolled off the national board. Pete. I was on the board for quite some time and so I was really no longer beholden to having to dress up for the meetings. And so I wasn't even by the way, I was in session. And so when we're in session, we vote and I don't want to miss votes. But it just so happened, Pete, that for whatever reason, at the last minute, the week of the broker conference, the speaker of the. Here in North Carolina announced that we have no votes, it would be a no vote session, so I booked a ticket last minute and went to this conference and didn't even really tell people I was coming because everyone knew that I was in session and I couldn't make it. So I think it was a kind of a surprise to folks that I'd showed up and I was wearing jeans and a baseball cap because once again, I didn't have to wear a suit, so not

Pete Neubig:
Everybody will recognize you from.

John Bradford:
It was awesome. I literally felt like I was in incognito and there was for those listeners that have gone to the Narbonne broker events, they typically are main tent sessions right there. Big rooms, kind of one topic. I think there are breakout sessions now, but back then it was typically main tent event type meetings. So one big room with about nine hundred brokers across the country and the speaker was the deputy secretary of HUD's enforcement division. His name was Brian Green, and he was there speaking about HUD topics, and I think Bryan thought he was going to talk about, you know, familial familial status and disparate impact and assistance animals for his one hour. But he started with assistance, animals, people, and he never left the subject for the entire hour. In fact, there were so many people in that room that were asking questions about this topic. There were three microphones spread across the room. It was such a big room because it's Vegas. Everything's big, right? And he could the poor guy could never get off the topic, and a lot of our members were kind of asking the same question a different way we call that piling on. And he was kind enough to keep answering the question, despite it being asked two questions prior. But nonetheless, it was in that room and this is no joke.

John Bradford:
It was in that room that I just sort of had this. I don't know. I guess that was ever such thing as an epiphany. And the sun comes out behind the clouds or a beam of sunshine gets on your forehead and the angels sing and you can make the angel noise if you like. And you know, you know, it happened. I thought, you know, I could go figure out a way to help the industry. And I had already proven myself as a lawmaker in North Carolina that carried a lot of our tenant landlord legislation. So I was kind of the go to guy for tenant landlord law anyway. So that's where the idea started. I didn't find the name pet screening until maybe a month later. I was looking for domains and came across pet screening, and everything on pet screening was screens for pet doors, so it was a screening for Pet Door. And so I loved the name pet screening, locked it down and. And so that's really how pet screening was born, and that was a long answer. But it's kind of fun because I think if you're involved in our film, that just goes to show that if you engage and go to meetings, you never know what might happen.

Pete Neubig:
Well, it just also shows that the entrepreneurial spirit which I love that, right? So you were a property manager, you saw that you had this challenge. You saw that everybody else in that room that was like the number one challenge it was. Hud knows it's a challenge. You have to go and solve that challenge.

John Bradford:
And that still is.

Pete Neubig:
And I think it still is. And I think you did an amazing job. But those of you who are for those out there listening that may not know what an essay versus service animal is, can you kind of explain what the difference is and where the big challenges are?

John Bradford:
Yeah. So you almost have to start back in twenty thirteen. When HUD issued what people in the industry called the memo, there was a memo called the HUD Assistance Animal Memo, and it was just a couple of pages long. But it was the guiding document for the rental housing industry as it related to assistance animals. And and I'll be careful not to get down too far in the weeds because I can do that. But I don't want to just understand that when you go to a restaurant, if you go to dinner tonight, a restaurant, you see a dog at the table next to you. That dog is under a different set of guidelines than the guidelines that are applied to rental housing. So if it's a what they call a public accommodation, any place that's open to the public, restaurants, theaters, hotels, you know your office. We have an office, airplanes, airplane, airplane, airplanes. Yeah, those those accommodations fall under the ADA. And so Ada's deal with service animals only and everyone knows that service animals are. I think everyone knows. But service animals are dogs and miniature horses. Those are the two types of service animals that are permissible under the ADA. But a lot of people, but a lot of people do not realize is in housing. Ada was not the governing sort of set of documents. It was really HUD and the Fair Housing Act and HUD back in 2013 viewed Service Animal as a type of assistance animal.

John Bradford:
So an assistance animal was sort of a more generic term. But assistance animal in the context of housing wasn't just service animals, it was also essays which everyone knows emotional support animals. It was also companion animals, therapy animals. So you pick the buzz word HUD just said, You know what? We're going to call all of these animals one thing, and we're going to call them assistance animals. And they had a set of guidelines out there in this memo that left a lot to be desired. And I'm not. Took off hard because Hard is balancing disability advocacy groups, they're balancing the needs of landlords, they're balancing, you know, the needs of health care providers. So Hod finds themselves sort of in a three way pickle trying to, you know, make sure people who have disabilities get what they need, but also making sure that people don't take advantage. And that can be a real tough place to be, frankly. So that that document governed for seven years and in 2020, right before the world shut down because of the COVID pandemic. Hud released a new document and the new document. It came out January 20th of 2020. I know because I was on a cruise ship coming back from a trip that I had gone on with my spouse and I'm like, Wouldn't you know that I'd be in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean when they release these new documents? I had no cell service.

John Bradford:
I'm on the, you know, who knows where I am out in the ocean? But I did have email, so I start reading this new notice. And what happened was Pete Hudd didn't make an addendum to the 2013 memo. They ripped and replaced it. So basically, you threw that old document away, and now you have this new document and it went into effect immediately. Now we have a 19 page document that just got released, and it's now the new guidelines. And what what's important about this new guidelines is kind of what you mentioned service animals versus ESAs. Hud has now decided to no longer just refer to them globally as assistance animals, but they now have a bifurcated process for service animals, which is different than that of support animals. And IDSA is a type of support animal. So I will tell you, if you're a property manager, you used to just have to know how to review assistance animals. There was one way to do it. Now you have to understand, Well, hang on, is this a service animal or a support animal if it's a service animal? There's a much limited, narrowly tailored inquiry type methodology that you can perform versus a support animal. You have a more detailed inquiry that you can perform, including documentation requirements, et cetera. And for a typical property manager, was

Pete Neubig:
You right there, Johnny? Just real quick. So so what he's saying, though, is. That if you ask the wrong stuff to the to the people, depending on essay or a service animal, you can be in violation of fair housing. Is that is that a correct statement? Yeah.

John Bradford:
There is no doubt that is a true statement.

Pete Neubig:
So move on. I want to make that. Oh no, that's perfect.

John Bradford:
Yeah, I mean, you have to look, if you're going to be a professional property manager and you're going to be working for clients who hire you. Their expectation is that you understand not only tenant landlord law as it relates to your municipality, if there's any ordinances or your state, but most certainly federal to. And these are federal guidelines not to take away from any states that have passed their own estate legislation, but state. I know this first hand states you can states have sovereignty, they can do things that they want to do, but they cannot violate federal law, and they most certainly cannot make things more restrictive. So a state does not have the right to make it more difficult to get a service animal or USA. They can actually relax the standards. Pete, a great example would be all of your listeners in California. If you're in California, California, relax the standard on service animals as it relates to service, animals and housing. Because in the new guidance service animals are limited to dogs only dogs only. But California says we allow any type of service now. So again, you have to know this stuff or you get yourself in a precarious situation. You may find yourself defending your actions.

Pete Neubig:
So now one of the big challenges that we have is property managers, is that when people come in or the prospects, prospective tenants come and they say, Hey, I have, I have an essay pet, right? So what are some of the things that I can ask for? What's the documentation that they should have? And then what are some of the things that they're doing to circumvent that?

John Bradford:
Yeah.

Pete Neubig:
So I mean, catch me if you can type scenario.

John Bradford:
Yeah. So if someone says they specifically have an essay? Well, the first thing you should do is is have this 19 page notice, you know, probably a pretty handy at your office because it really does try to guide you on what you can do. Obviously, pet screening can help you with this. But notwithstanding pet scanning, if you're going on this alone, OK, no problem. Go for it. You probably want to have that 19 page document at your fingertips, and it tries to outline how what you're allowed to do, what you can ask, et cetera. And the first thing you would want to make sure is that you really understand, is this a service animal support animal? If they specifically say ESA, then you know what's a support animal? So now you know, OK, I need to go down the enquiry method of the support animal and what your what your role and this is permissible. You know, you have the right to make sure that this individual who is seeking an accommodation request, meaning they're asking you to set aside your pet policies, whether it's a no pet policy or a pet policy on size or breed fees, they're asking you to set that aside and let them bring in their animal because an animal in this context is not the same thing as a pet.

John Bradford:
And if that's in fact what they're requesting, then you have all the rights to make sure that it meets the Fair Housing Act guidelines. And so for an essay, you have the right to ask for documentation. And a lot of people use forms, but I want to encourage you that forms, you know, yeah, you can use a form, but you can't require them, even our own pet screening customers, you know, you can encourage them to use pet screening. And I tell you ninety nine point nine percent of these individuals do. But every now and then you may run across someone that says, you know, I don't use computers, so I can't use pet screen because I don't have a computer. I don't even know how to use computers. And in that case, you can't cross your arms and say, Too bad, too sad. You don't use pet screening, you don't have a computer. So you know we can't help you. You have to be ready to to to help them any way that you can. And so that means you have to be willing to, you know, find a workaround.

John Bradford:
And for someone that you know, doesn't want to use your form or someone that may not have a computer and can't use pet screening, you still have to help them. You don't get to turn your back on them, so you can ask them to give you documentation. And that documentation comes in many forms PPI prescriptions from doctors, letters from therapists, letters from counselors. I would be very careful to explain what you need and just let them give you what they think they need, because at the end of the day, if they're seeking an accommodation request, they should know what they need to have the accommodation met and so let them submit whatever and whatever they give you. You should review it and you're going to be looking for. Is there a disability and a disability related need somewhere in that documentation? There must be language that affirms there is a disability and a disability related need for the animal. Now let me be clear here, Pete, no one should ask someone specific questions about their disabilities. When I was growing up, we called Narnia. It's none of your business, none your business, you know. Now, can you make sure the doctors?

Pete Neubig:
Go ahead? What are you guys are running? How many? How many screenings a month are you guys? You know.

John Bradford:
We're doing I mean, let's say we a lot, I mean, we're probably doing six to seven thousand accommodation request reviews monthly. We're reviewing as a company. And then we're screening hundreds of thousands of pets a quarter.

Pete Neubig:
Yeah. So what are some of the things that you're seeing some of these prospects do to try to say that they have an ISA where it's not really an ERISA like, are you still are you seeing fake certifications or what are you seeing out there?

John Bradford:
Yeah, you know, I will. Yeah, let me just give you some statistics. So we as of this show, your podcast here, we've reviewed one hundred and twenty five thousand reasonable accommodation requests for across the country, one hundred twenty five thousand and growing very quickly. And that's a lot of work. When I went and saw HUD, my chief legal counsel and I went and saw HUD in October of 2019, right before the pandemic hit, and we had done twelve thousand. So from 19 to now, we've done an additional hundred thousand. That's how fast we've grown and continue to grow, which is exciting. But it's a lot of work because our team reviews these individual each and every time. But I want to tell you 60 percent, so do quick math, 60 percent of that one hundred and twenty five thousand. So that's going to be twenty five twenty five thousand. So it's called one hundred thousand people. Of that, one twenty five one hundred thousand of them did not meet the guidelines did not meet the guidelines. As a monster. No, I don't want to. To assert here on your show that those hundred thousand people are committing fraud because that's really not the case. Most of the times, Pete, it's because they don't have what they need to affirm their request. They just don't have what they need, and it's their responsibility to get what they need. And if they do not provide the things they need to meet the standard, then guess what? It's not an animal. It's a pet. And so do we find fraud? Absolutely. Some of the things we find on the fraud side are fraudulent signatures.

John Bradford:
And we know this, Pete, because one of the steps we do is we contact the health care providers. We actually contact every single health care provider. And we're not asking the doctor, Hey, doctor, does this person really have PTSD? No, we never ask those questions. You never can inquire about someone's disability, the specific nature, but you can call a health care provider and say, Hey, I have this document from, you know, Susie Q Jones, and it's dated this date and it signed by this health care provider from your clinic. Can you affirm that this is an authentic document and that you have personal knowledge of this patient? And then they'll go, look them up in the system and they may go. We don't see this patient and then they'll ask for a copy of it. And then you can say, OK, well, I'll send you a copy of it because it was provided to me as proof. And since it has your letterhead on it, you have the right to see it. And then if they get a copy of it, they may go, Gosh, this is not in our system. This is a fraudulent letter and we have that a fair amount. Altered dates is a big one. They'll change a date or they'll change a name so you come in with a name on it. But but your best friend, Brian really needs the letter, so they'll use software to change the Brian. And then we call the doctor's office. They go, We don't have a Brian here, and that's because Brian's not in the system. Pete is, and that's fraud.

Pete Neubig:
So a couple of things, Johnny. Yeah, what I've noticed when I ran empire and from talking on the property managers, what happens is you ask for the documentation, you get the documentation, you just say, yep, they got the documentation, you let them in right. We don't have a good gatekeeping system. Most of us don't. That's why at Empire, I went with pet screen Inc.com. And then there was one instance when we had a prospective tenant, they said they had a I think it was a service animal. So normally those are kind of cut and dry, you know, but we did pet screen. Aecom denied them and he made a big stink to my team and my team wanted to put him in there and I said, No, no, no, no, no. I said, We have let's call, let's call pet screening and we actually got your counsel on the phone, got pet screen, counsel on the phone and walked us through why they denied it. And in this case, it was just a the paperwork was outdated. He needed the prospective tenant, needed to go get updated paperwork.

Pete Neubig:
And so the animal was no longer a animal but a pet because it expired. And so these are the these are the details that you guys catch. And what I was finding is before we hire pet screening, if a prospect tenant, if they if they just gave us some documentation or made a big enough stink and they said they're going to call fair housing or whatever it was, we would literally let them in. Not not not a great job for the owner, right? Let's be honest, but we also were very nervous about about because we didn't know our processes, right? So if you are a property manager, company or even a leasing agent because these, you know, leasing agents deal with this all the time, too, that you don't have good policies and good processes and you don't know about that document and when to ask what questions and and to to really be able to to do to do the screening that it takes. When you need a company like pet screening because they are going to keep you out of fair housing

John Bradford:
And you're right, you know, and we're not punitive, like I didn't come up with this idea of pet screening to try to, you know, attack people that claim they have assistance animals. There are people that legitimately need these animals for their quality of life, and they're not the problem. It's the bad actors who are trying to circumvent pet policies or breed policies or weight policies, whatever it may be. And so they just go, you know, and try to beat the system. And we don't make the rules of pet screening. We just make sure everyone understands the rules. If you think about bowling and you go bowling and you hit those bumpers that pop up, I just say where the bumpers like, we're just here to keep you in the bumpers. And if you get outside the bumper, guess what? You don't mean you don't meet the guidelines. And we have attorneys that are renting properties going through this process. And, you know, and they don't, you know, they're OK with it because again, we're not. I mean, we follow the law, we understand the law. You can imagine me as a state lawmaker. The headline would be John Bradford is hurting people with disabilities that would never fly, and we tend to take a very high standard here. That screening, you know, we really, really do. And I'm very proud of that. We don't, you know, that's 60 percent those hundred thousand people that I mentioned that did not meet the guidelines. I'm not even like holding their credit card or debit card in safekeeping. And then if they. Don't meet it. Then we go and charge them. We don't even do that, we don't even take a form of payment from someone seeking an accommodation request in the story.

John Bradford:
So it's this not about making money, it's about doing the right thing. And many of those people keep then go and convert their request to a pet, and then they pay our pet application fee. Now you get the FIDO score, the property manager, now you can charge pet fees and pet ranch. But guess who converted it from an animal to a pet? It wasn't an empire. It wasn't property manager ABC, and it wasn't even pet screening. They self convert from an animal request to a pet request after they realized that they don't have what it takes to meet the guidelines. And HUD has praised us, by the way, for, you know, and I'm being kind of generic here, but we've gone up to HUD's office in D.C. we've met with the Office of Enforcement and and we have received very positive remarks about the way we approach this. You know, HUD is not going to endorse any company. They're a government agency, nor did we ask for their endorsement. But what I will tell you is we are making sure that everything we do aligns with, you know, the intent of the document, the document. And we know because when that 19 page document came out, Pete and January of twenty eight of twenty twenty within three days, we had a white paper out that our chief legal counsel developed. We sent it to HUD and DC. We got on a conference call with HUD in D.C. and we reviewed it to make sure our white paper was spot on. We got a little bit more clarity than we than we didn't have before that call. We adjusted our white paper accordingly. There's no other company or lawyer or anyone in this country that probably has done that.

Pete Neubig:
We have you guys are by far the experts in the industry in this, in this field. So let's talk, John. Let's talk a little bit about how a property management company can implement not just pet screen pet screening and using pet screening. Sure. So, so for example, like we know when we get a prospective tenant and if they say they have an essay or a service animal, we cannot charge them a a. any kind of pet fee and we cannot charge them even a pet application fee. Right now, pet screen income makes their money by charging pet application fees. So are you? If somebody does have a true essay and it becomes a true essay, you guys are basically doing that work for free is that we do? Yeah, we

John Bradford:
Absolutely do it for free. In fact, we don't even take a credit card or debit card number, so there's never a chance that they could even get accidentally charged.

Pete Neubig:
Amazing. Yeah. So now if I if I'm a property manager company, I do not have a process for this and a process is we, you know, we just hit the card or whatever that is. A valid violation of fair housing could be a violation of fair housing.

John Bradford:
Yeah, it would be. In fact, I sometimes hear, you know, my hairs on the back of my neck stand up sometimes and I hear property manager says, Oh yeah, we just go ahead and take their pet fee and we wait until, you know, pet screenings done. And if you say it's an animal, then we refund their money. And I'm not here to tell you to do that or not to do that.

Pete Neubig:
I'm here to tell you, don't do it.

John Bradford:
Ok, thank you, Pete. I would probably encourage you to say, you know what, if you find yourself forced that you have to let them move in before pet screening is done, because our process does take several days because we're calling the health care provider. We're often waiting on the requester. That's the person who's actually asking for the request. So we get slowed down by the parties involved. And so if you say, gosh, this person's got to move in tomorrow, we recommend making what they call a temporary accommodation. Just let them in as an animal, put it in the lease that this process is not done. But if the process works out so that it's not a recommended meaning, it's not an assistance animal because they don't meet the standard, then you have the ability to either have them remove that animal or start or move that pet because it would be really a pet or start charging them pet fees. I don't think I would charge them first and then refund them. You may have some attorneys that say that's OK. If you have counsel telling you that's OK, then feel free to follow your counsel. I will just tell you that HUD really likes the fact that pet screening takes a very, very high standard, and I think that a high standard should apply even to a property manager. Take the high standard if they say it's an animal and you've got to move them in tomorrow and we're not done or you're doing it on your own and you haven't got to it yet, then let it be an animal until you get to it. But I don't think I'd call it a pet and then refund the money. Because if you forget or someone on your team is supposed to refund the money and then they quit on you, which does happen and the money never goes back, you are opening yourself up to a giant problem with a fair housing discrimination complaint.

Pete Neubig:
So how much does pet screening cost for the employer?

John Bradford:
It's for the for the property management company. Yeah. Free. Free you. I will say this though. There's a small star here. You've got to be pet friendly if you don't allow pets. I have no way to make money. So if you're a no pet company and I'm not talking like if you have an owner or two that says they don't allow pets, I'm talking about you. Take your whole portfolio. Let's say you manage three hundred. And if you say, John, you know, I got 10 owners that don't allow pets, but I got two hundred and ninety owners that do. Ok, great, we can help you. Just generally speaking, if you're a pet friendly property management firm and you allow pets, then we are going to be a free service for you. There are cases where if you don't send us enough pets, meaning you're not really taking this serious and you're only sending me all your animals because animals, everyone takes serious. But I often have seen a few firms that just they don't really take it seriously. They don't. They send us some pets, but not all pets. Well, now I have no way to make revenue and we will turn your service off on the assistance animal side or we're going to make you pay for it. So for for your normal firms, though, that you truly embrace the product and use it the way they're supposed to. It's free is can be.

Pete Neubig:
Now you've mentioned that you you you actually do screening for no pets, so tell me more

John Bradford:
About this is a big one. This is a big one. Yeah.

Pete Neubig:
There's most, most I know when I worked for mind after I rolled up into mine management, they kept asking me because I got, I believe pet screening does work with mine now, right? So.

John Bradford:
Yeah, and you're we appreciate your leadership because we they've rolled us out companywide.

Pete Neubig:
So we made so we made that connection and mine kept asking me, Well, why do we have to use them for no pet? So can you? Because I never could do explain it really, really well. Yeah, sure. Yeah, yeah. And you being you being the pet screening guru? Yeah. Should I send somebody who has no pets to pet screen icon now?

John Bradford:
Yeah. Great question. And first, let me just tell you, I wish I could tell you this was my idea when I first had pet screening. It wasn't. I was focused on pets and animals, and at the time I was like, Well, if you don't have a pet, you don't have an animal, then obviously you don't need to come to us. But one one of our larger multifamily companies, Grey Star, in fact, the largest property management company in the in the country. I mean, they manage eight hundred thousand units, OK? We had a great star regional manager that said, John, we need help with pets and animals. Yes, but you know, we really need help. We need help with people that say they have no pets and then we see them walking their dog on site. And I'm like, Huh? So I have this idea. This is my second epiphany. No joke. I'm like, We need a no pet profile. So here's why. When you move into an apartment or a rental, a single-family rental and you say you have no pet, no problem. But what's happening is these individuals have girlfriends and boyfriends and partners and parents that come visit for the weekend every weekend and bring their dogs. Or maybe they have someone that's spending the night

Pete Neubig:
Like halfway, halfway through the lease. They end up getting a pet. They get to tell you

John Bradford:
That's and that's the other one. They get a pet because they think out of sight, out of mind. That happens and everybody gets it all the time right. It happens all the time. So a no pet profile. First of all, it's free. We do not charge anyone who does not have a pet any kind of money. It's free. There's no

Pete Neubig:
Charge. Hit a resident on the no pet profile, no free,

John Bradford:
Free to the resident breed of the resident, free to the property manager. We could never charge someone without a pet. That'd be really goofy. I mean, that'd be capitalism at its best, if we could figure out

Pete Neubig:
If we can figure that out.

John Bradford:
Yeah, I'll call you. But no charge for

Pete Neubig:
Public property manager. That probably could figure it out. Yeah, you're probably right.

John Bradford:
I can think of one or two, but it's completely free to the resident applicant, property manager. But what we're doing is we're getting them on the record, acknowledging that no pet really extends to no pet sitting, no pet fostering, no visitors with pets, not without the property manager permission. I understand they may get a pet halfway through their lease. Well, great. Just call your property manager and then they'll send you through pet screening. Get that pet typically screen and you can start paying rent or pet fees and you're off to the races so that no pet profile protects the property manager and also your owners that you work for. Because now if there's a dog bite that gets reported and you go, Wait a minute, that resident doesn't even have a dog. Well, now if they have a no pet profile on on the record, you'll be able to show a judge and jury, Hey, this person said they had no pet when they moved in, and they knew all the rules, including no visiting pets and this dog, that bit someone was their girlfriend's dog or their boyfriend's dog. And it really helps protect the owners and the property managers. The no pet profile Pete is almost as popular as our assistant's animal one. I really

Pete Neubig:
Amazing. I would agree. I would think so. And again, this is something that you can market to your owners if you're a property manager company about how you are protecting them.

John Bradford:
Yeah, absolutely. And we've got to talk about the FIDO score right at one time if

Pete Neubig:
We're going to talk about that real quick. But before that, the other thing that you mentioned that I want to I want to bring up to our audience is that the documentation is there in pet screen income and you guys have all the documentation which we have access to to your site. So now you don't you're not having to worry about putting stuff in your lease or whatever or or getting this documentation, uploading into your, you know, app folio, a property where or building whatever you have. John has it. You have a log into your site. So before we talk about the score and the FIDO score. Talk a little bit about what the what your site can do because you can do everything on like honestly, to me, this was the easy button, and I think that's why we were able to implement an empire in that mind. It's like, OK, they do it all. They give us all of the notifications that we need and then we can go in and we can run reporting and we can see all of the documentation. So just tell us a little bit about what visibility you have now in your own portfolio.

John Bradford:
So first of all, we can we have a one way integration with App Folio Property, where a lot of the major platforms that are out there, we have a one way it's called a flat file integration. We have an onboarding team that will work with you to get that set up. So that way, your software platform generates a report for your company on a on a daily basis, for example, and then it sends it to our product, which. Then reads it so our dashboard mirrors your dashboard, it's pretty slick. So we have that functionality if you don't use the integration, which I'm not sure why you would it. So if you're using pet screening and you're not integrated, you probably want to reach out to us and say, Hey, I heard about this flat integration. It takes just minutes for us to get that turned on and we will help you do that. But every company gets their own landing page and you can customize that landing page with your logos. You can upload your own lease agenda if you do have your own or animal agenda. We want this very much to feel like it's your company and not pet screening, because the goal is not to send in a pet store. In fact, we don't want them there. We want them at your landing page because now we know that pet belongs to your company. And so it's easy. I mean, I promise you, we have come every day. I come in and we've probably 10 new companies that signed up overnight and we never even talked to them. They sign up on their own and they're off to the races. That's how easy it is. But if you want the integration, we can help you. I'm a little

Pete Neubig:
Bit of a data geek, and if you if you know me, you know, I'm big on KPIs, I'm big on reports and all that good stuff. And one of the things that I really liked about pet screening was I now knew how many animals or how many pets are like that we we put in each month. I knew I got to the point where I knew the percentage of my portfolio that had pets. I knew the percentage of people that had assistance animals. So we actually so you start gathering this data. And so now, you know, what can you do with that data? Well, you can see like, OK, I can become more pet friendly because we have way more pets coming in or, hey, this assistance thing is becoming a hot topic because 20 percent of all the animals that are coming in are assistance animals. And you can start playing around with that data and you can make, you know, policy changes and process changes. And even you can increase some fees, if possible, based on the data.

John Bradford:
I mean, you're exactly right. Data is king and you'll know more about the pets in your portfolio than you've ever known before, which is really the problem. Most property managers, they may know you have a dog. They don't know what kind. They don't have photos. Or if they do, it's a poor photo. I mean, this is truly the pet management platform. It's a lot of work.

Pete Neubig:
It's a lot of work. You know, just doing the background screening for the applicants. A lot of the time you get to the animal, the pet, you know, it's like half the stuff's not filled out, like whatever. It's going to be my money. It's put the dog in or.

John Bradford:
That's right, you're right. And my firm was guilty of it, even my own firm as organized as I thought we were. Even my own firm was getting what I'd call inconsistent information, and I just kind of proved it out and said even my own company who had in-house counsel, by the way, our own lawyer and our staff, and we still weren't getting consistent information, and I felt like we were a pretty well-run shop. So pet screening is truly the pet management platform for the housing industry, for sure.

Pete Neubig:
All right. So in background screening, we have a credit report and we kind of have, you know, we have that credit reporting. So in background screening for pets, you've created the poor score or the FIDO score, whatever you call it.

John Bradford:
The problem of my score? Yeah. Yes, so if I don't score. First of all, the trademark term love FIDO score. First of all, this score premiere for the final score is for the property manager only. So it's important to know that the pet owner isn't even getting a copy of the FIDO score because I never wanted a pet owner to think that we're saying their dog is a good dog or bad dog because it's really not about that. It's about the housing related risk that a dog and its owner because the pet owners are really the problem. I mean, let's just call a spade a spade. The pet owners are the problem, but you know, we wanted a score that sort of summarize the pet and the pet owner together. And so we do a Fido score or a call score. The reason we call Paul Score is because, you know, everyone knows Google has one of five stars. We do one to Five Paws. A five Paul score is our highest score. A one Paul Score is our lowest score. And we do have a zero score that is completely customizable by the property manager. So if you don't allow, I'm just going to pick on German Shepherds for a moment. And I love German Shepherds, but we'll use that breed.

John Bradford:
If you say John, we do not allow German Shepherds. You can set your score up for the zero Paul to be a zero for German Shepherds and any German Shepherd or any mixed breed that has German Shepherd in it will be flagged as a zero. And your team will know and you can decide, Well, how do you move ahead? Do you turn that dog down? Do you charge that dog extra money? The scoring system is for your use. A lot of our clients use the scoring to drive more revenue. Some of them use it just to make better decisions or both. It's really up to you. The greatest example I can give would be if you have a golden retriever puppy America's dog, golden retriever, hello, great. Great dogs, but a male, a neutered, unvaccinated puppy is going to have more risk for you, the landlord and your owner. Because why it's a puppy, it's going to be chewing on the baseball or just going to be using the bathroom for at least a year before it's potty trained. We're not telling you not to rent to the golden retriever puppy, for heaven's sakes. What we're saying is there's a low FIDO score. You may want to charge more, and that's really what the FIDO score helps do.

Pete Neubig:
That's a great. It's another way to make to make a little bit of of of revenue, for sure. He was the property manager at Empire in Mind. We actually had, you know, the lower the score, the higher the monthly fee for the for the for the administration fee. And then we backed it up by the guarantee. And if you do a one time fee, that's great too, but have different levels.

John Bradford:
That's right. And you may say, well, how do you do that if they don't know what the FIDO score is? So we give you the FIDO score, but then we also list out the factors that kind of attribute the score to what it is so you can talk to your applicant about the factors with ever without ever mentioning the word FIDO score. So when you say, Hey age, you've got a young dog here or vaccination, hey, you got a dog that's not vaccinated. I don't even run to unvaccinated dogs. I mean, there's there's all kinds of factors, but at least we give you the words to go talk to your applicant about. And, you know, sometimes they'll say, No, I want to keep it on a leash feet.

Pete Neubig:
And in the qualifications, you want to put a range of what you're going to charge correct in your range. Twenty five to seventy five dollars per month.

John Bradford:
That's exactly right.

Pete Neubig:
Prospective tenant you qualify for the twenty five, you've had your dogs been vaccinated and blah blah blah. That's right, the resident. So if you put that range in there and they get charged at seventy five, they're not. It's not a surprise, right?

John Bradford:
Not it's not a surprise. And we'll give you the factors to explain why. You know, it's a lower score, which lets you articulate why, you know.

Pete Neubig:
All right. So Johnnie, in the interest of time, I'm going to stop. But we have the lightning round. Ok, let's ask you a series of questions. All right. I don't have special effects for this one. So much the lightning round.

John Bradford:
All right.

Pete Neubig:
All right. So you I know you're not with Park Avenue, but I'm going to ask you a couple of stuff about Park Avenue real quick. So 4:00 PM software. Did you use a Park Avenue probably worth up to? What is your current organizational structure at Park Avenue?

John Bradford:
We are. So we do team kind of team management. We have teams that will manage a group of properties.

Pete Neubig:
Do you use virtual assistants in either of your businesses? No. Do you have BMWs at Park Avenue?

John Bradford:
I mean, we do. We have. We had one business development specialist. So yes, we do have a BDM.

Pete Neubig:
So you have a pet screenings. I've talked to them.

John Bradford:
Well, yeah, we have. Yeah, we do have CDMS. We. Yeah. So that turns yes, we have salespeople who are out looking for new business.

Pete Neubig:
What is one piece of advice you would give someone just starting out in the PM business other than use pet screening?

John Bradford:
Don't ask anyone on your team not to do anything you wouldn't do yourself.

Pete Neubig:
I love that one. Does Pineapple belong on pizza?

John Bradford:
No, no, for sure. No way.

Pete Neubig:
Really hard. What book are you currently reading or one that is impacting your business or life?

John Bradford:
You know, I I always tell people I'm not a voracious reader, the stuff I read tends to be business articles, but I will say that Sam Walton's original book, there's the whole book on how Wal-Mart started it was is really profoundly impactful if you just want to read about a guy who truly hustled. I mean, it's a paperback version, I think is only what's available. He's got this giant trucker hat in the photo. Computers weren't even out, by the way.

Pete Neubig:
You write that book, actually. I read that.

John Bradford:
Yeah, great book. I mean, you'll read it and go, Wow, some of this isn't relevant because computers were sort of coming out towards the end of his journey. But I think the lessons of that book are meaningful because he got up every day and worked hard and and really got his teams excited about what they were doing. And I think that still stands today.

Pete Neubig:
What comic book character do you most associate with

John Bradford:
Comic book character? See? Oh my heavens.

Pete Neubig:
Hank Hill for younger young people look that line up Google.

John Bradford:
They have the Google Hangout.

Pete Neubig:
What is one challenge you are currently facing in your business?

John Bradford:
Just keep keeping up with growth and making sure we're responding to that as nimble as we can.

Pete Neubig:
All right. Last one, which do you prefer dogs or cats?

John Bradford:
Dogs?

Pete Neubig:
Dog, man. All right. Well, listen, John, I appreciate your time. Thank you so much. It's been fun. It's been a great podcast. For those of you who are interested in joining NARPM. Please go to NARPM.org or give them a call at 800-7823-452.

Feb 8, 2022

A Podcast | John Bradford

In this video, learn more about 'When a pet is not a pet - The ABCs of Emotional Support Animals'. This podcast episode is hosted by Pete Neubig from VPM Solutions featuring the CEO and Founder of PetScreening.com, John Bradford. Some of the topics will be about pet fees, pet deposits, pet rent, etc.