So you’re ready to make that big move and found a perfect place to rent. Except there is one big problem, and it’s a deal killer. The owner will not allow pets, not even the one friend you’ve always counted on.
If you haven’t looked lately, long-term rentals in Hawaii are pretty pricey and difficult to find, especially here on Maui. It doesn’t matter if you are using a rental agent or merely looking on Craigslist, it is common that more desirable rental properties simply will not allow pets.
“It’s a landlord’s market right now, so if it was a problem before, it’s a problem now for people looking for housing,” agrees Jacque Smith, of the Hawaiian Humane Society. “We do get a lot of people surrendering their animals for this reason.”
You seemingly have only two choices. Keep looking, settle for less, or find a new home for your pet.
From the Owner’s Point of View
Let’s face it, SOME pets damage their surroundings. From ruining carpets, chewing woodwork, or just stinking the place up. It all amounts to a significant financial loss for the owner, not to mention a potential lawsuit if Skippy bites a neighbor or destroys their property. It is simply easier for an owner to say “No Pets Allowed.”
From the Renters (Skippy’s Parents) Point of View
More than likely you are a responsible pet owner and would never intentionally let your dog, cat, hamster, fish or _______ ( fill in the blank ) make a mess of your new home. Besides, your pets have been with you through good times and bad. No way are you going to give your pet away just because some stranger says they can’t stay with you!
So What Can You Do?
- If your pet is a bonified service animal, meaning you have a disability that requires an animal companion for assistance, the owner of the property may not under federal law discriminate against you. End of story.
To be clear; an “emotional support pig” certificate won’t cut it.
- Give yourself enough time. Nobody likes the hassle of moving, much less finding rental housing that accepts pets. If you are renting now, start to check ads and contact a real estate agent or rental agencies at least twelve weeks before your lease expires.
- Make use of your resources. Contact the local humane society or animal care and control agency serving the area in the area you are moving; they may be able to provide you with a list of apartment communities that allow pets.
- Recognize that it may be almost impossible to sell yourself and your pet to a large rental community with a no-pets policy. You’re more likely to be successful if you focus on places that allow most pets, allow certain pets (for example, cats or dogs weighing less than 20 pounds), or that don’t say, “Sorry, no pets.” Individual home and condominium owners may be easiest to convince. Ideally, look for a community with appropriate pet-keeping guidelines that specify resident obligations.
- Gather proof that you’re responsible. The more documentation you can provide demonstrating your conscientiousness as a pet owner, the more convincing your appeal will be to your future landlord. Compile the following documents:
- A letter of reference from your current landlord or condominium association verifying you are a responsible pet owner.
- Written proof that your adult dog has completed a training class, or that your puppy enrolled in one.
- A letter from your veterinarian stating that you have been staying up your pet’s medical care.
- Supply documentation that your pet has been spayed or neutered and vaccinated against rabies. Most veterinarians routinely fulfill such requests for their clients.
- Make your request to the individual or group with the ultimate authority to grant your request. Usually, this will be the owner of the house or apartment.
- Let the landlord, manager, or condominium board know that you share any concerns about cleanliness. Point out that your pet is house trained. Emphasize that you always clean up after your dog outdoors and that you properly dispose of your pet’s waste.
- Promote yourself and your pet. Offer to bring your pet to meet the owner or property manager, or invite the landlord to visit you and your pet in your current home. A freshly groomed, well-behaved pet will speak volumes. Emphasize that the same pride you take in caring for your pet extends to taking care of your home.
- Always get it in writing. Once you have been given verbal permission by a landlord, manager, or condominium committee to have your pet, be sure to get it in writing, and signed pet addendum to your rental agreement.
Finding a new home for you and your family and moving is always a big job, but well worth the trouble with some planning in advance.
Lastly, if you cannot locate that perfect place to rent, consider buying a home. In some cases, you can purchase a home for the same or less cash than the first and last month’s rent plus security deposit you would pay for a rental.
Not to mention the benefits of homeownership.
Contact me, I would love to help.