Saturday, January 24, 2015

Do Landlords Hate Pets?

So it's time to move but it's not time to buy a place of your own yet.  You scour the rental listings on Craig's List, Zillow, and everywhere else you can think of, but the majority of rental ads say "no pets" allowed.  You have 2 dogs and 3 cats, so now you go into panic mode.  Are you ever going to find a place to live that will welcome your furbabies?  Will you GASP! have to rehome them? NO NEVER!  You're so frustrated you want to rip out your fur - I mean hair.   You wonder, why on earth do landlords hate pets so much?  I think I can shed some light on that.

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?
My tenant was unable (or unwilling) to keep the dogs inside, so her brother took the Rottie and poor Daisy got tied down in the yard on a long lead that prevented her from jumping up on the wall.  One holiday weekend our tenants went away, leaving Daily all alone in the yard.  A relative was supposed to look in on her, but didn't.  Daisy must have become agitated and frightened being left alone in the yard, so she tried to jump over the backyard gate to get out.  She made it over the gate, but the lead wasn't long enough to let her touch the ground.  Poor, sweet Daisy hung herself. 

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.
We're still pet friendly landlords, we're just more cautious now.  Our next tenants were probably shocked at how many questions I asked, not about them but about their pets and how they are cared for.  Do landlords hate pets?  No, but we fear the potential damage, liability, and sometimes even heartbreak that can go along with renting to pet owners. 

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?

30 comments:

  1. We have been trying to find a different place to rent for a while now, and they have all turned us down because of our huskies ;(
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

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    1. Oh no, that's awful! I know how hard it is find a rental when you have multiple dogs. I have a few suggestions, I'll email them to you. Thanks for stopping by

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    1. Oh, thank you! If you mean the Husky, that's my girl Isis. The little black dog was one of my fosters, named Howdy. Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. As a renter with 5 cats, I can totally relate to the trouble of finding a place to live that will allow pets, especially cats. I've come across so many that allow dogs, but not cats - I assume because of the reputation cats have for going to the bathroom outside of the litter box. We are now in a house, and our landlords had absolutely no problem with our cats. We had to pay only a very small pet deposit, and that was it. As a renter, I am thrilled, but at the same time, shocked. My cats are all well behaved and use their box, and I consider myself a responsible pet owner, so I know that we won't cause any trouble... but our landlords don't know that! I couldn't believe that they only made us pay a small fee and told us we could have as many pets as we wanted. They are lucky that we are responsible pet owners!!!

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    1. That's great, so glad you found a good landlord! I never charged anything for pets, it's hard enough for folks to find pet friendly apartments. Charging for pets makes people not want to get any more pets and also makes it too expensive to rent. I think that's unfair. Thanks for sharing your experience!

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  4. Wow... this is a really eye opening story. Fortunately we now own our home, but your account really shows us the challenges from all sides. I applaud you for continuing to make your properties pet friendly AND for being extra cautious. I think if I were in the shoes of a landlord, I'd interview a prospective renter much like a responsible shelter would interview a prospective adopter.

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    1. It was very eye opening for me too. I'll always allow pets, how can I not when I love them so much myself! I hated being a renter and not being able to have pets. Besides, the more renters who can have pets, the more cats & dogs will be adopted from shelters! Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. I'm glad that you changed your mind and instead asked pet-friendly renting questions. Is there a clause in your contract that covers what happens if tenants don't give adequate care to pets while living in your rental? I'm not sure if you can, legally, but it would be wonderful if you could.

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    1. Interesting question, I never thought about adding something w/ respect to the care of pets. I just have context around how many, what kinds, and that they're responsible for any damage. I did add that dogs cannot be "outside" dogs, they must live in the house not outdoors. Thanks for that suggestion Amy, I'll look into it.

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  6. Never been a landlord and likely never will be. I can see about the damage but some people can cause at least as much. Such as our past neighbor who burned the house down because felt like home-made deep-fried chips after a long night of partying. The fire was so hot that the stove melted ...

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    1. Yikes!! They burned the house down?? Wow, that's awful. I think I'd have a heart attack! You're right, people can do damage too; the same tenant whose beautiful dog died needlessly had some giant holes in the wall of one bedroom. We think her daughter's boyfriend was there and got really angry. She had to pay for the repairs. Thanks for stopping by & for sharing that story! I feel really lucky right now LOL!

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  7. Wow what a tragedy! When I had 4 dogs I never had any trouble finding places but they are 2 Corgis and 2 chihuahuas so maybe size mattered? I hope you never have to go through any of that again! I have 4 cats now and fortunately am able to rent one of my mom's properties because I'm guessing we'd have issues.

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    1. That's really lucky, glad you were able to find a pet friendly landlord! Relatives are always more understanding, aren't they? I wouldn't have an issue w/ multiple cats as long as they're litterbox trained and the person knows how to vacuum! Thanks for stopping by.

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  8. What an awful fate for Daisy. She should never been kept tied up. I am shocked and dismayed. I can see from the landlords point of view why they wouldn't want their tenants having pets from a liability standpoint but imagine how many more pets would have forever homes if landlords couldn't discriminate against pets.

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    1. It really was awful, it still haunts me. We are still pet friendly landlords, just more cautious about how prospective tenants care for their pets.

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  9. I'm so sorry you had to go through that. It can be so frustrating because irresponsible owners tend to ruin it for the rest of us. Or a landlord can have preconceived notions of a specific breed. My first landlord highly advised against adopting a husky mix from our local shelter because "huskies are a dangerous breed". My heart hurts for poor Daisy and I hope for a world when such preventable deaths do not occur.

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    1. So true, irresponsible owners ruin everything, don't they? It's weird that many people do think Huskies are a dangerous breed when they're one of the friendliest. People believe too much of what they read I think. My hear hurts too. Thanks for stopping by Kelsie.

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  10. Oh what a story! Poor, poor dog. I live in a dog-friendly apartment complex. And I can't imagine how it has remained dog friendly. You can see people move in with their dogs, and almost immediately the patio door blinds are shredded, there is constant barking, and so on and so on. And no one here picks up the pet poo. No one. With all of the complaints, mediating between people who complain and who are causing the complaints, and the damages, I don't think I could be a pet friendly landlord at all. So good for you. I applaud you. And I'm sad that as usual, a few bad humans ruin it for the rest of us. It's really not that hard to manage your pets. If I can manage Willy and prevent damage and complaints, it seems like everyone should be able to. Again, good for you for continuing to allow pets.

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    1. That's so awful that people don't have respect in your complex. Wouldn't it be great if apartment complexes could provide information to pet owners about how to deal w/ behavior issues and the importance of cleaning up waste - and enforcing it when they don't? It's just not that hard! Thanks for stopping by the blog, Dawn!

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  11. The problem is rarely the animal as you illustrated but the owner. Pets often take the blame for the bad behavior of humans

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    1. Oh yeah, it's like 99.9999% the owner's fault! Too many ignorant disrespectful owners out there.

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  12. Irresponsible pet owners are irresponsible in all areas of their lives, and often it's the pets that take the blame for humans failings!

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    1. You're absolutely right! There are very few "bad" pets, just bad owners. Thanks for stopping by!

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  13. Poor, poor Daisy. It is irresponsible owners that make things difficult for everyone else.

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    1. Daisy was so sweet, I was crazy about her! True, there's an abundance of irresponsible owners out there, they ruin it for the rest of us! Thanks for stopping by!

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  14. I have two pet rats.

    It's been interesting for me to see how different landlords view pet rodents!!

    My current landlord has no problem with them, but in my last apartment, I had to pay a pretty large pet deposit for them. And I've found plenty of apartments that wouldn't allow them at all!

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    1. Oh interesting, I hadn't considered rodents. As long as they're in a cage and don't roam free unsupervised in the house I would be fine with it. I wouldn't want them to get inside the walls & chew wire or something else that could be dangerous. A rat is the same as a hamster or guinea pig to me in terms of having a pet in the home. Thanks for stopping by!

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  15. Are you still giving advices on a way to find a place to move with pets. I live in Northern California and have 2 Chihuahuas n 2 cats and can not find a place to move please help

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    1. Sorry to respond so late, I would just search on "dog friendly places to live in (your city)", or "dog friendly apartments in (your city)"

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