Pets In Apartments – Landlord Perspective

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By PETER ROSENTHAL, President
V.I.P. Trust Deed Company

Most landlords have a “no pets” policy in their lease and rental agreements with regard to apartments.  Some landlords DO allow pets in a house setting due to the increase space for pets.  In some instances a landlord will make an exception for a cat or small dog, however this frequently causes a problem with other tenants on the basis of “how come she can have pets and I can’t?”

When landlords allow pets in an apartment setting, they usually (wisely) ask for an extra animal deposit to safeguard against pet odors and damage when the tenant vacates.  Either cat or dog urine in a carpet can do substantial damage as it soaks through the carpet, padding AND hardwood floors or flooring below.  In anything other than an occasional accident, there is a substantial expense to treat or replace the carpet, replace the padding underneath and treat the underneath flooring.  In the case of hardwood floors, the damage can be quite expensive.

As an owner of a dog, horses, fish (Koi), and several species of birds, I certainly empathize with pet owners.  If you are applying for a rental with a “no pet” policy, see if there is any flexibility with your pet by offering a substantial pet deposit.  The biggest objection landlords have is not the damage aspect but, in fact, the inconvenience to other tenants.  Although you think your two pound toy poodle is a wonderful pet, the dog may bark its head off while you’re at work or raise a ruckus every time the mailman comes.  Other tenants certainly have a right to quiet enjoyment of THEIR premises and frankly most landlords have enough trouble with parties and loud music complaints

This article was prompted by a new West Hollywood ordinance that forces landlords to disregard their pet policy for certain classes of individuals.  State and Federal ordinances already exist for seeing eye dogs and other necessary pets under the various disabilities acts.  The West Hollywood ordinance however goes much further.  The new law gives senior citizens, the disabled, and AIDS patients the right to keep up to two pets in their apartments.  Just imagine a landlord with a “no pets” 32 unit apartment building being forced to allow two Great Danes in any apartment housing people with any disability, senior citizens and AIDS patients, even if the AIDS is in remission due to drug therapy.  In West Hollywood this ordinance could easily cover 50% of the units.  The West Hollywood response might be that I, as a pet lover, should easily understand people’s desire to have a pet.  I do, but I also understand a landlord’s right to attempt to insure the aforesaid quiet enjoyment of other tenants.  It’s really a shame that we all have so many “rights” today, including the legal right to keep two Great Danes in a small apartment.

I will close with a cute saying I remember from high school:  “Here lies John O’Day – died defending his right of way”.

Peter Rosenthal
VIP Trust Deed Company