|Isis when she was a puppy, chewing Gumby to bits.|
It's not that there are no pet loving landlords, there are tons of them. It's fear of damage, liability, and irresponsible owners that makes some landlords refuse pets as tenants. When I was a free-wheelin' young, single girl I was ready to buy my first home. My amazing realtor Suzanne found me a fabulous house in a prime area but it was over my meager budget. It had a small rental apartment upstairs and Suzanne explained how I could afford the house if I rented out the upstairs. I was terrified but I wanted that house so bad. I took a deep breath and went for it. It was like "POOF! You're a Landlord!" and I began searching for a tenant.
Everyone advised me not to allow pets. Pets were bad news, they'd trash your apartment, annoy the neighbors, and might bite the hand off a small child. As a lifelong animal lover with a cat, I couldn't accept that so I allowed cats and small animals. I quickly found a great tenant. Ray was fabulous in every way and so was his beautiful cat! Except that after he moved out I learned he was apparently flushing cat litter into the toilet bowl instead of using the garbage pail! And of course, wasn't it the clumping kind. We had traces of litter swirling around in the toilet for months after he moved out. No biggie, that wouldn't deter me from being a pet friendly landlord!
Fast forward several years. I've since acquired a husband and a few more rental properties all of which are pet friendly, at my insistence and my husband's dismay. I should probably mention that he's a 20 year insurance company veteran, specializing in property damage appraisal. He'd seen the kind of damage pets could do to a house; chewed moulding, sheetrock, and toilet bowl water lines, dogs jumping through screen doors and glass windows, lawsuits due to dog bites, and a host of other bad stuff. Well color me Blue!
But I insisted we remain pet friendly landlords. I must warn you, this next story is upsetting. One of our rental properties was a cute little house in a nice neighborhood close to a school. For the most part our tenant was a good tenant, but the first signs of trouble began the weekend she moved in. She had two dogs that were to remain with her soon to be ex-husband. The next door neighbor, an elderly woman living alone, called me that weekend to say that my new tenant's Pitbull was jumping up on the 6 foot high concrete wall that separated the two houses. She was terrified that the dog would make it over the wall and attack her and her dog .... a Rottweiler!
Well color me Shocked! I had no idea the two dogs had moved in along with our tenant. I also didn't know they were "outside" dogs. One was the sweetest little Pitbull mix named Daisy, the other a large male Rottweiler who "didn't like people". After going over to meet the dogs, I told her Daisy could stay but she'd have to do something to prevent her from jumping up on the wall, and why couldn't the dogs just stay in the house? I couldn't risk the unfriendly Rottie being left in the yard all day. What if he jumped over the backyard gate and bit a small child as she walked home from school, how could I live with that? Not to mention the liability aspect.
|What if an unfriendly dog had chompers like these and bit a child?|
Learning of Daisy's tragic death was devastating. If only she had let Daisy stay inside. If only she had called me, I would have been happy to come over and look in on Daisy. First I was heartbroken. Then I was angry. I was angry at our neighbor who had to complain about sweet Daisy jumping up on the wall. I was angry at our tenant for being so irresponsible. I was angry at myself for allowing her to have a dog in the first place. "That's it! No more dogs in the rental properties!" my husband yelled. He was as angry as I was. Over the next year the anger subsided, our tenant moved out, and I was left with the sadness and the memory of that sweet, friendly, darling little Pitbull mix. I was a lot more cautious after that, and more than a little bit jaded.
|One of my foster dogs, Howdy, relaxing in our yard.|
If you were a landlord, or if you are a landlord, would you apply any restrictions or limitations on allowing pets? What questions would you ask prospective tenants about their pets?