A League of Her Own: Landlords, give responsible pet owners a break
by SARALYN NORKUS Banner Sports Writer
Apr 20, 2014 | 981 views | 0 0 comments | 43 43 recommendations | email to a friend | print
While my presence has only been acknowledged, journalistically speaking, in Cleveland for a little over a year, I have lived in the city for almost six years.

Sure, I’m not a “Clevegas” lifer, but this little town has become the place that this big city girl calls home.

That being said, I think it’s about time someone has the gall to point out a huge problem this pretty little town has: Landlords are far too stuck in their ways when it comes to the issue of renting to people with pets, mainly those of us with dogs.

Yes, I am calling you out landlords/slumlords/overlords of Cleveland real estate.

I was very lucky that my first three landlords in the area were realists when it came to renters with pets.

Perhaps having dealt with those landlords spoiled me, or perhaps it just seemed like common sense. Pay the pet deposit, be willing to give references, have pet, be a responsible pet owner.

Two years after leaving the area, I was back in Cleveland, and found myself horribly shocked when it came to the rental market.

While the slight increase in prices was expected, I wasn’t prepared for the lack of decently priced, pet-friendly properties.

Helpful tip for landlords: If your property is not pet friendly, be sure to list it thusly. If I see the word “no pets” in the ad, then I know there is no point in calling. If that isn’t listed, I will assume that owning a pet is either OK or would be taken into consideration.

Just two days into my search I was a blubbering mess, ready to call it quits and head back up North, where folks were “enlightened” when it came to renters with pets.

I would find plenty of nice rentals, but when a dog was brought up it was an instant NO.

No considering the option, no talking about a pet deposit, no talking to previous landlords who were willing to vouch for my dog. N-O, no.

I own an Australian cattle dog mix that doesn’t bark, is trained and doesn’t really do anything except lie around and be a lazy thing. Sure, she had her crazy puppy moments, but none of those involved destruction of our home ... it did however, lead to the destruction of many of my and my roommate’s belongings.

Dogs grow up, just as children do. Honestly, it’s common knowledge that we two-legged rental dwellers are just as destructive, if not more so, than animals in the grand scheme of things.

I called about a “pet-friendly,” large, two-bedroom, 1 1/2-bathroom townhome.

When I told the woman that I had a 50-pound medium-sized dog, she had the audacity to tell me that a “dog that large just wouldn’t be comfortable in a two-bedroom townhouse.”

I did mention that my dog is medium-sized, right? She’s no Great Dane, nor is she a tiny little yippy dog.

Think about it this way: My 50-pound dog is basically the size of a few bags of groceries.

Apparently though, a “large” townhouse was just too small for the dog to be comfortable.

Thanks for taking my dog’s well-being so seriously, lady. Funny, she seemed pretty darn content in the previous two-bedroom townhomes we lived in, but then again, what do I know? I am just her owner.

That was just the tip of the iceberg. Someone wanted a $1,000 pet deposit and then wanted to raise the rent to $1,000 a month due to the dog being there. Yeah, I think I will pass on that.

I’m all for paying $300 to $400 for a pet deposit, but a $1,000 deposit is just exorbitant, especially when you are living in a smaller town and not in a luxury high-rise condo on the river.

I finally found a reasonably priced place owned by someone who was willing to actually meet with me and hear my pleas over having my dog live with me.

Originally not dog friendly, this landlord took the time to listen, consider and even contact my previous landlords for references.

I know for a fact that he was not disappointed in letting me rent from him, because I am a person who likes to leave things better than I found them when I go. Judging on the condition of the place when I moved in, his previous tenants did not share that same sentiment.

Now I live in a nice apartment community with my folks, yet again. Hey, don’t judge me, paying student loans and living by yourself is an Everest-sized challenge on a young journalist’s pay.

This apartment community is a rarity due to the fact it is pet friendly, as long as you don’t own a “dangerous” breed.

The point of all of this is to perhaps make some of the landlords out there think a little.

Let’s face it, no matter how good the tenant, accidents do still happen, hence the whole security deposit.

Before you totally shut someone down because they own a dog, perhaps take the time to hear them out. Are they willing to pay an extra pet deposit on top of the security deposit? Are they willing to provide references from past landlords?

If they meet those criteria, then chances are you are dealing with a responsible pet owner.

I know, I know, for every responsible pet owner you find there are four irresponsible ones just waiting to mess it up for the rest of us.

The point here is to ask for references. When you hire someone you check their references, so why should renting to someone be any different?

Give some of us a chance, even though I know you’ve been burned in the past.

I understand that ultimately it is the landlord’s prerogative whether or not to allow pets. I also realize this column will probably fall on deaf ears because, let’s face it, when someone is stuck in their ways they hardly ever change.

Now to all of those irresponsible pet owners out there: STOP IT.

It’s because of all of those folks that good pet owners find it a struggle to rent in Cleveland.

Have no time to train your dog with basic behaviors and commands, or properly take care of and clean up after it? The answer is simple, really — don’t get one.

Get your animals fixed and keep up with their shots. Pick up after them when they do their business. If your dog does get out of hand once, pay for whatever damage is done, which is the right thing to do, not to mention responsible.

It’s really not that hard folks, and it’s definitely not rocket science.

Your laziness should not affect my ability to rent a nice place with my well-behaved dog, nor should any other pet owner be penalized for your careless actions.

Owning a pet is often a very big part of someone’s life, and if a city is not pet friendly some owners will take that into consideration.

For Cleveland to truly begin to grow into a more metropolitan area it is going to have to get on the same page with other, larger cities.

Growth cannot continue when archaic ideals and beliefs are the mainstay of an area.

Landlords in Bradley County would be wise to take that into consideration as they continually try to increase the influx of new residents to the area, and as more national and international corporations bring their business, employees, contractors and families to Cleveland. It should be considered because, folks, the times they are a-changing.