Renters, no pets allowed

September 6, 2012

OPINION By JUDITH BERNSTEIN

I read the rental ad and thought, “At last, just the apartment I’ve been looking for!” It was a guest house on a private estate and had it’s own patio and garden, plenty of light in all the rooms, and was located in an area I really like. Then I read the small but inevitable last line, “No Pets.”

This was one of many, many ads I had looked at with excitement, only to be hit over the head with a four by four board saying, we don’t want you because we don’t want your animal. Probably fish would be the exception but who knows.

On Craig’s List, on property management firm’s websites, in the newspaper, it’s all the same. I’d guess that 80 percent or more of rentals refuse to take pets.

I asked myself why since high pet deposits have become standard and since security deposits, also large, can be used to cover pet damage, so what is the issue? Pet pees on carpet— put in new carpet. Pet rips up carpet— replace carpet. Pet rubs off paint – repaint. Pet barks too much – muzzle pet, train pet, or ask renter and pet to leave.

If you ask a property owner or management firm the reason for excluding people with pets, they always say, “We’ve had bad experiences with dogs or cats or saber tooth tigers in the past and don’t want to risk it.

Of course, I always say “But I have a well behaved cat”, but that doesn’t cut it. So I have yet to discover the real reason for this pervasive policy unless it’s the hassle of dealing with the types of damage I mentioned

Yet the majority of Americans have pets. Possibly dogs outnumber cats but it’s close and I have seen a few ads that will take cats and not dogs but by and large, it’s all pets.

Why do we humans have pets? Companionship, we love animals, we inherited the pet, unconditional love that runs both ways, they’re cute or we need an excuse to walk (the dog made me do it). And pet owners can be poor, wealthy or in between, meaning that some of them cannot afford to buy their own homes where they can have any pet that isn’t illegal, even in one case I know of a seal that lives in the pool.

So what are we renters to do when excluded – actually, discriminated against, from rental housing? We could sneak in the pet and hope it will be quiet, well-behaved and unnoticed. We could bombard property management firms with emails and calls urging them to change the policy. Some property management firms say that the owners make the decision to exclude pets and others say it is their company’s policy. We can write letters to the editor and ask the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to lobby Congress or our state legislature

Or, the approach I favor, amend the United States or California Constitution so that the “make no exclusion based on” clause talking about race, national origin, gender, to add people possessing pets. As someone who used to volunteer for a fair housing organization in Los Angeles, I am serious here. The only solution that will work in the long run is to make it illegal to discriminate against people with pets, just as it is now illegal to discriminate against people with children.

So when your candidates debate in your community this fall, ask them, ” Are you willing to sponsor a law making it illegal to bar people from renting a property based upon their pet ownership?” Then you will know how to vote.

Judith Bernstein is a San Luis Obispo County animal lover.


Loading...
isoslo

As a landlord of several houses over many years, I will not rent to anyone with pets. All of the pet owners I previously rented to see their pet in a different light than the rest of the world. Poop in the backyard, it must be from some other animal, I always pick up after my dog. The neighbors complain about your cat using their children’s sandbox as a litter box, oh no it couldn’t possibly be my cat. Damage to the house, that must have been there before I moved in my pet would never do that. I have heard all the stories and just will never rent to another pet owner again. If you must have a pet, go buy your own property.


Anon E. Muss

This is what happens when you don’t have enough apartments available. Landlords can have no-pet policies because there are plenty of people without pets who want that apartment, so the landlord has no motivation to allow pets. Same goes for indoor smoking.


As for reasons to not allow pets… large dogs are often not allowed because they can rip things apart more powerfully, can put big dents in walls, and can cause more liability concerns regarding attacks on people. Cats and dogs of all sizes can ruin carpets to the point of needing replacement, at a greater cost than the pet deposit, and can also annoy neighbors with noise.


Also, landlords can “discriminate” against people with long rap sheets, frequent evictions or bad credit. They do so by making each adult applicant pay $25 for a background check. You have to be given a copy of it, and it’s rather interesting to see what it brings up.


thinkaboutit

I think the happy medium is to allow pets, but require the amount of a half-month’s rent as a deposit.


Of course, the landlord could always accept payments increments to help out the renter. he cost of moving is so expensive.


It would also be helpful for the landlord to install wood floors instead of carpeting or even sealed concrete in some areas. Hard surfaces are lots easier to clean in the event of an accident.


flytrap

Typical California left wing thinking. Propose an outrageous solution, then “compromise” half way to the outlandish idea, so you end up with a 1/2 cocked idea. Can you imagine-making the rental units have wooden floors instead of carpeting and sealed concrete??????????


pasoparent5

Agreed, flytrap.

Our rental has wood floors not because some Nanny-State bureaucrat ordered us to rip out the carpeting; we just thought it was a wise idea (and we haven’t regretted it.)

thinkaboutit must lean left politically because his/her idea seems to forget who actually OWNS the rental: the landlord, not the tenant!


Strider

You guys are way too hard on thinkaboutit. I’m a landlord and his ideas are good, though not all are quite workable. PP you even stated your agreement about the wood floors. Think.. is just trying to get by.

The low or sequential deposit doesn’t work though, because so many renters are scumbags and we take a beating. One thing to remember is that the problems current tenants are having is NOT because of cruel landlords, its because of bum previous tenants that taught us some hard lessons.

As I stated elsewhere I will rent to folks with pets but I am always nervous and usually lose out-I have pets and won’t leave home without them.


kayaknut

Pets just need a better lobbying group in Sacramento, and more money to throw at politicians. It’s proven those with the most money to spend get the legislation they need.


cosmos7

At least for me this falls into the “well, duh!” category. We live in a student town… a student town I might add where parents buy their kids houses to goto school and a BMW to drive the five blocks onto campus. They’re hardly going to responsible.


It’s just the area…high-value property with a generally irresponsible population. Contrast that to Claremont in LA where I just moved my girlfriend for school, and we had no problem finding her a place that accepted pets.


As far as amending the Constitution or changing laws to require property owners to allow pets is sheer lunacy. I have two small dogs myself and they are family to me, but I’m not going to try to tell someone what he or she can and can’t do with their own property. I just move on to the rental prospect… it may be harder, but they’re not impossible to find even in San Luis.


joetussin

People who are irresponsible with pets are usually just irresponsible. Landlords can’t specify other descriminating factors like; No Drug Users/Dealers, No Noisy All Night Partiers, No Abscent Minded Inconsiderate Tenants, or the like. Yet they are just as, or more destructive, to rental properties than pets. It’s frustrating to see landlords descriminate against pet owner based on stereotypes, yet they don’t hesitate to let someone move in who’s irresponsible and destroys the property without a pet. As usual its the responsible people who are paying for the sins of the irresponsible.


Russ J

If I had a guest house on my private estate, I would gladly take a chance of renting to someone who had a dog I did not know. I wouldn’t mind at all, if it barked all day long when it’s master was gone, or if it attacked a visitor to my property. I’m sure my insurance company would understand a pit bull on my propery – hell, they might even give me a discount for lower risk of theft.


morpheus

I prefer to rent to people who have pets.


I don’t trust people who don’t like animals.


scoopone

It’s the absolute right of a landlord to either accept pets or not and I don’t believe there is any

law that can changed it. A pet owner wishing to rent may offer a substantial increase in the amount of deposit to cover damages caused by a pet.


1 2 3 5