Dawn Armstrong
Special to the Tribune

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October 30, 2012
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Pet column: Landlord-tenant pet rental strategy

From coast to coast and on both sides of the pond, finding landlords who accept pets is difficult. Property owners who allowed pets in the past have had their property damaged, lost time and money to refurbish, and have endured grief from non pet-owning tenants who resent pet waste left in common areas and noise from neglected or untrained pets. Others simply have been afraid of or been bitten by neighbor pets. On the other hand, lucky landlords have found that responsible pet owners make good long-term tenants because they appreciate that pets are allowed, care for their pets, and duly respect the rental property and the rules.

NOLO Dog Law suggests that a prospective tenant stay positive and proactive, maintaining respect and cooperation between landlord, tenant, neighbors and pet guardian. Landlords concerns are understandable. They risk losing time and money and, in some instances, may even face legal liability if the dog injures someone. Before agreeing to rent to a pet owning tenant, NOLO points out that a landlord has a reasonable right to expect both convincing evidence that the pet won't cause problems and provisions in the lease or rental agreement that spell out pet guardian responsibilities.

Landlords should have a written agreement with tenants, spelling out expectations and rules. Pets should be limited to standard domestic animals suited for urban living, such as dogs, cats, pocket pet rodents, fish and birds. The types and number of pets allowed should be specific. Most cities have ordinances limiting the number or types of animals allowed. Rules should be clear on whether pets should be confined to apartments and whether dogs should be kept on leash in the building and other community areas. The agreement should call for dog waste to be picked up and disposed of in a sanitary manner and for cat litter to be put in sealed bags. The property owner should ask for and beprovided with the names of veterinarians and substitute guardians in the event of an emergency. The agreement should call for a reasonable pet security deposit. The rental agreement might include that upon vacating, the tenant will remove every trace of pet presence and specify that restoration includes items such as deep cleaning of carpets, flea treatment if necessary and deodorizing.

Pet guardians should provide a pet resume which includes specifics such as pet training, proof of current dog license, and references from former landlords and the pet's veterinarian. Highlight the pet's positive traits and provide information on where the animal will be during the day or when alone and if professional dog walking or day care services will be used. Cat guardians should commit to indoor-only pets to avoid conflicts with neighbors and to keep animals safe.

Offer proof that dogs and cats have been spayed or neutered, and explain that altering leads to better behaved pets. Pet owners should also expect to pay a pet deposit and offer to do so. More renting with pets ideas are available on the web from NOLO Dog Law , Dogs Trust of United Kingdom "Lets With Pets" campaign, and the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals "Open Door" campaign. Links are provided to download pet resumes and landlord checklists and rental agreement provisions.

- Provided by the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and SPCA to help "Keep Tahoe Kind". Dawn Armstrong is the executive director.


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Oct 30, 2012 04:53PM Published Oct 30, 2012 04:51PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.