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.


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2much

Wow… Why did CCN give the time/room for this. It may be a slow news week, but…WOW. I know for sure that when I have the opportunity to speak to my legislators my questions are much more complex than “What are you gonna do about that pet/renter thing”. What a waste of time.


kayaknut

Not anymore of a waste of time than what our legislators work most of the time and that is without the voters asking them too.


slojustice

You write an article like this and you wonder why people do not want to rent to pet owners? It seems in the last 10 years that pet owners have become somewhat un-hinged and have lost their ability to face reality. Pets cause enormous damage and the owners of the pets seem to have become as anti-social and destructive as their pets. You can keep your pet and I will keep my freedom to rent to whom I would like.


pasoparent5

Yep. When I was young, pets were PETS. You fed ’em, gave ’em water and shelter but in the end, they were animals.

Now, too many crazed animal lovers (especially middle-aged single women LOL) consider pets to be “furry people” or their “furry children”. These folks are the same people who think it’s just fine to carry a dog around WalMart or even a grocery store. (yuck) Their pets are not service dogs; they’re spoiled little furballs whose owners definitely HAVE become “somewhat unhinged and have lost their ability to face reality.” Or they’re cat lovers who want to fill their rental with 5-6 kitties at a time.


abigchocoholic

What the?


When I first read this, I though it was tongue in cheek.


Are you telling me it isn’t? Are you telling me this is a serious article?


An amendment to the constitution to protect pets? That’s the funniest thing I’ve read all week.


jamber

I was writing tongue in cheek about the constitutional amendment. But as someone with exactly one pet who has done some damage that was paid for from my pet deposit, I still am not clear why many of the problems mentioned couldn’t be avoided by limiting pets to one, periodic inspections by the landlord which are permissible by law, and then asking someone to leave. Rather, the assumption from most of hte comments seems to be that pets are not well behaved and owners are irresponsible.


scoopone

I love pets, especially pugs, but a landlord has the absolute right to refuse a pet owner to lease his/her property. I would suggest offering a larger cleaning deposit to take care of pet damage and carpet

cleaning including flea removal. That might entice a landlord to consider your pet.


easymoney

Speaking from experience, even a huge deposit means nothing to some folks. And cats are the worst, they do damage in the form of spraying that is second only to a skunks.

Once they have one they always seem to think another one or two won’t matter…


pasoparent5

Another reason why some local landlords won’t rent to pet owners is because of SLO County’s recently passed agressive pets ordinance (passed 4-1 in April w/Frank “Common Sense” Mecham opposing it)


The ordinance puts in place a system of fines for those who own such animals and, if they are renters, also holds their LANDLORDS responsible. Fines will be $100 for a first occurrence, $200 for a second, and $500 for each subsequent incident during the first year. [Trib 4/11/12]


So even though my tenant’s little Fluffy may be the sweetest dog ever, if that sneaky mutt gets out and bites someone in front of my rental while my tenant is at work, I may be responsible. After the law was passed, we changed our rental policy and no longer rent to tenants with pets. Period.


jamber

I didn’t know about that law. Would have worked against it as the landlord shouldn’t be held accountable.


Disgusted

Comparing pets to gender, national origin and race is apples and oranges. Pets are a choice/luxury with the possible exception of service dogs.

An additional deposit of $1,000 would seem excessive, yet if the pet truly damages carpet etc. to the point of major repairs, $1,000 doesn’t go very far.

The way it stands now, both landlord and tenant have a choice and it should remain that way. Having said that, I rent to tenants with pets, but give a stern warning as to expectations. So far it’s worked. However……….


jamber

That suggestion was made tongue in cheek. On the other hand, so far there are few creative solutions offered to a real problem for would be renters: give away or have put down their pet in order to be able to rent or keep the pet and search and search and possiblyt find somehing. I am glad you give it a try.

judith


mbactivist1

A friend of mine sometimes repairs houses for a client who rents to college students in San Luis Obispo. From what he has told me, there can be little doubt that no pet could possibly do as much damage as some of those students do. For example, I have yet to encounter a cat or dog capable of punching a hole through a door or wall.


flytrap

Most college students do not pee on the rug; the cat urine destroys the carpet and the padding and is almost impossible to get the odor out. Most deposits do not cover the cost of replacing the carpet-how many carpets have you ever bought that cost $200-$400 to recarpet the entire apartment?


Black_Copter_Pilot

For the goverment to force one to rent to pet owners would be a violation of our 5th amndment rights. Any pol pushing for such laws needs to be kicked to the curb.


Pet owners should unite as they did with dog paks and form a co-op of sorts and rent to eachother.


There is always a way without stepping on others rights