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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Kidholm

I own several rental properties. Speaking from experience, landowners get screwed numerous way from tenants with dogs. Here’s a rundown:


* Dog’s trash the carpet, yard and furnishings. The security deposit doesn’t come close to covering those costs, especially when the tenant quits paying rent several months before moving out.


* The insurance company will either drop me or substantially increase my premium if I allow tenants to have dogs.


* If your dog bites someone, I’m the one that gets sued.


* You dog barks. Neighbors complain. Hassle for me.


Owners of investment properties have everything to lose and nothing to gain by allowing dogs. If you want a dog so bad, then you are more than welcome to buy your own home. Campaigning for legislation to force landowners to allow dogs is simply nuts and out of touch with reality.


SnoopLyin

So your basically asking for ‘people with pets who rent’ to be a protected class. Lady, GET A CLUE!! You want your elected officials to impose a law on landlords not to discriminate against people with pets???


danika

I believe the root of the ban on pets stems from insurance. Many companies restrict pet liability and actually exclude coverage for ANY damages done by pets. Others simply restrict the breed of animal allowed. No surpise that pit bulls are restricted by virtually all companies.


I have pets, and always have, even as a renter. Understanding landlords are out there, just harder to find.


shelworth

If you offer a landlord a 25,000 dollar pet deposit and show proof of a million dollar umbrella insurance policy they might change their mind and rent to you and your “pet”.


trx450r1031

Wow, this woman is totally out of touch with reality. I’m in the construction business and have seen how much damage pets can do. They can completely ruin landscapes and the interior of a home. I’ve worked on homes that have a horrible smell and had to have to have everything 3ft up replaced! Even the dry wall cabinets and doors! That’s an extreme example but even in a more typical scenario a pet can do more damage than double the rent worth of extra security deposit. I see it all the time in my work. The landlords have to pay a lot of money because they took a risk on letting somebody have a pet. And by the way, Ive seen the aftermath of a pit bull that scratched his way right through dry wall to get out of a room!


Cicero

The U.S. Constitution has established the most inclusive and successful government in history because its set out, in only a few pages, the Fundamental Rights of Humankind and a structure of Government to guarantee those rights. And it has been the chief engine for improving our lives. It serves as a model for all States and Nations.


In contrast, the California Constitution has been amended so frequently to add boutique “rights” and boutique limitations on majority rule that it takes up volumes, contains internal conflicts, and has paralyzed citizens control over their own government. Much as we love our pets, adding a right to own and keep a pet when we live on property someone else owns and has given us permission to reside in would simply magnify the problems created by maintaining a constitution that equates trifling pleasures with God given inalienable rights.


Silcad

As a landlord, I’ve seen damage from pets, not to mention the down time in replacing carpet, etc. Most landlords have mortgages, and any down time means less income, and possibly expenses that go well beyond the deposit collected. While we have made exceptions from time to time, we normally will not accept pets. Having good references from former landlords and a good credit rating will help your cause.


danika

What does a good credit rating have to do with accepting a pet?


Silcad

If you have a good credit rating, you’ll be less likely to stiff me for 3 month’s rent, during which time I still have to make my mortgage payments. That might work in your favor in getting me to accept you and your pet. But all things being equal, I’ll still pick the non pet owner over someone who brings a cat or dog into the equation.


4paso

So you would have to rent to the guy with the Pitt bull, Doberman mix in your house across the street from the school, next to the family day care center?


Booty JuJu

Koo koo for coco puffs.


pasoman

I can’t believe this ” logic”. Seriously?