May 23, 2014

Getting your pet into a rented property is no shoo-in

We all like discipline, rules and guidelines…as long as they apply to others!

Personally, I would have sympathized with a landlord’s decision not to want pets in his accommodation – until, that is, I acquired a dog myself! Then, needless to say, one gets very attached to the little pooch – indeed one starts to think that the sun shines out of his/her every orifice. What actually emerges, of course, is somewhat darker in nature!

I was never a dog lover. But then I discovered Fleur, an adorable three-month old puppy from the local rescue kennels. Fortunately, I was in my own property but the little pooch still caused problems with neighbors elsewhere in the condominium. Over a three-year period Fleur managed to repeatedly soil the immaculately tendered lawns – all my good intentions notwithstanding.

The worst moment came when she was on heat – later, I did have her spayed – a period that ushered in an unforgettable summer as a group of sex-crazed male dogs camped outside, encircling the property like a pack of prurient paparazzi.

One dog persisted on beating at the door with his paws all night long. Neighbors started to notice the commotion. I took matters in my own hands and emptied a bucket of cold water over the lad’s head. It was a warm night but this did nothing to dampen his ardor at all. He just looked at me gratefully, squeezing past my legs and chasing after Fleur.

The purpose of this extended anecdote (which was, I say again, in my own property) is by way of a concession that a pet CAN irritate neighbors and lead to some awkward situations – although we are, of course, blinded by love for our adored furry creatures.

Having my own dog, you know how it is – suddenly you hear every “doggie story” going. A neighbor acquired a labrador around the same time as I acquired Fleur. Apparently the dog, when left alone in the flat, entertained himself by grabbing the curtains and tearing them all down.

So we would do well to understand why landlords sometimes forbid pets. They have legitimate concerns and it would be wrong to assume that all their motives are born out of ill-will towards dogs and cats. For one thing, they may be aware that future tenants could be allergic to the fluff which tends to get everywhere and is very difficult to extract.

tipiro / Love Photos / CC BY

Getting Fido accepted

If you are a tenant with a pet and are keen to get it accepted in your new rented home, you would do well to heed the following advice:

  • Do not assume that your dog is allowed in a property just because pets are not specifically excluded in the tenancy agreement. The agreement will almost certainly not forbid you letting off fireworks indoors, repainting all the ceilings or landing a helicopter on the roof in the middle of the night.  But you would not assume that these activities are acceptable, would you?
  • Be open with the landlord or property manager. Do not on any account try to smuggle in your dog without permission. Such behavior will not endear you to them and you are bound to be exposed. It could also undermine your creditworthiness in the future.
  • Explain to the property manager that you are aware of potential problems caused by animals. You may then –  IF this is the case and it is certainly not advisable to lie – explain that your dog is extremely house proud and well-trained and not at all likely to cause damage.
  • Allay your property manager’s/landlord’s concerns by assuring them that your dog is in good health. You could prepare a kind of resume, outlining the vaccinations that your dog has received. You could also offer to increase your deposit if the owner is fearful of potential damage caused –. (although you could well find that this has been factored in anyway.) This will assure the property manager/owner that you are acting in good faith.
  • There are specific websites for tenants with pets, such as this one here. You will find that you are in good company. The economic crisis, afflicting most countries, has meant that more and more people are finding it hard to get onto the property ladder and moving into rented accommodation.

Landlords and property managers…it’s worth considering

If you are open-minded about pets, then you have a larger pool of potential tenants. Restrictions only cut down on the people you can choose from.

  • If it is apparent that a tenant has a well-groomed pet, then this could indicate that he/she likely to be house proud and will take good care of your apartment. In addition, a tenant with a pet is likely to stay for longer periods because of the problems in finding alternative accommodation.
  • It is good, however, to establish the age of the pet, if it has ever bitten anyone or ever caused any serious material damage. Establish also what arrangements are in place for caring for the animal while the tenants are out at work. It may be good also to find out where they acquired their pet.
  • In most US states, you can charge a monthly pet fee or an additional deposit for tenants with pets. Check the rules in your area, however, because it is illegal to charge additional fees for pets in some states.
  • Bear in mind that the blind are fully entitled to keep a guide dog and that to forbid them from so doing constitutes discrimination. There are also other people – those with certain other disabilities or emotional problems – for whom a pet can prove to be a comforting companion.

Nothing is sadder than an owner having to part company with their devoted pet, so it is to be hoped that tenants, landlords and property managers can reach some sort of agreement so that they can stay together.

zoomar / Dog Photos / CC BY-NC-SA

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Jenelle Setter

Business Owner, Own Fort McMurray

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