Friday, April 15, 2016

The housing shortage: Bad apples are tripping you up

"Landlords are greedy and they don't like pit bulls. If insurance companies would lighten up, more pit bulls could get homes." 

False. Well, mostly false.

According to nearly 70 landlords and property managers who responded to a 12 question survey we circulated recently, insurance and breed types have been non-issues in their decisions to rent to pet owners. Instead, they told us that the main obstacle to maintaining a dog friendly policy is the damage, mess and nuisance noise caused by former tenants with all types of dogs. That, and the fact that housing is at such a premium that there are dozens of qualified families without pets standing in line, ready to pay historically high rents for their hard-to-find apartments. Supply and demand, headaches vs. landlord convenience. It makes sense, doesn't it?

Only three of the landlords we polled mentioned insurance as a potential obstacle to renting to pit bulls and other dogs, and only one had breed restrictions (no reason given). Almost all reported the need for expensive and time consuming repairs after dog owners moved out and/or dogs who disturbed neighbors with noise. One of the bigger surprises to us was that most of the survey participants still allow dogs despite the headaches they outlined. 

From the survey: Have you had any negative experiences renting to pet owners? Please describe:

.... 'Dogs being allowed to mess in the house. We have had to deep clean grout & tile & replace (new) carpet because of excess dog bathroom messes.' ..... 'People were very nice and paid their rent on time, however the condo was a mess after they moved and it had a very, very strong urine odor in the carpet.' ..... 'Constant barking of pet at all times of day and night.' ..... 'Peed on, moldy carpets, all the way through the pad. Chewed baseboards. Kittens galore. Fleas. Large dog poop in the yard.' ..... 'Hardwood floors damaged from pets nails, black fur build up between carpet and trim, pet waste not picked up and neighbors complained, barking complaints' .....'Young tenants went out every night and their little dog suffered from anxiety and would howl all night till they returned and the dog pooped in my house and they would leave it' .... 'The dog caused so much damage to carpet through urination that both carpet and pad had to be replaced throughout unit AND the concrete foundation below carpet and pad had to be treated for urination saturation. Total cost $3,000 plus a lot of extra time and energy hiring contractors, arranging appointment/cleaning times, meeting with contractors, etc. I learned my lesson and went back to a No Pet policy '...

Understanding is Key

We have more info to share including the reasons some of the landlords do like renting to responsible owners of pit bull type dogs among others, but as we move forward, it seems important to point out that dog owners may not be interpreting landlord rejection correctly. Understanding the perspective of property owners is crucial if we're going to make any headway in opening more housing to pet owners. And, according to 70 (mostly) dog friendly landlords who were kind enough to speak to us, the insensitive renter who allows his dog to make a big mess of things is one of the key reasons you're facing such a big disadvantage during this housing shortage ... The exception of course being landlords who are swayed by breed stereotypes in towns and counties that endorse Breed Specific Legislation (Yes San Francisco, that includes you.)

Knowledge is Power: Be Awesome. Get Your Home!

There are strategies you can take to show landlords that you're a cut above the rest. Because if you aren't a cut above the bad apples, why should anyone rent to you?

To help on that end, we've created a 90-second video with a 'landlord approved' approach to securing housing, in English and in Spanish. All are welcome to embed this on their websites (the embed code pops up with the share button).

Shelters and Rescue Groups. You're welcome to post and print these graphic hand-outs for people in your community. HAND-OUTS