The Landlord Problem

August 14, 2012  

By Laura Petrolino, VP of Operations

(photos by Melissa Lipani)

The old saying, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” rings very true when trying to figure out the secret sauce to make far reaching changes for pit bulls. You look at the equations involved.

A) The media’s often sensationalized and faulty coverage of dog bites, attacks and other incidents.

B) Legislative fear-mongering and breed-discriminatory laws in response to media coverage and subsequent community witch hunts.

C) Over populated shelters, and continued attention surrounding the “pit bull problem,” which further contributes to a community perspective that there must be “something wrong” with these dogs, or why else would there be so many in shelters?

D) Insurance companies refusing to provide coverage for pit bull owners.

E) Unfortunate allure of the “pit bull image” for unsavory characters who often subject our dogs to unimaginable abuse and neglect.

F) And finally, the “landlord problem.” Landlords refusing to rent to owners of pit bull type dogs simply because they look a certain way (I emphasize the “look” a certain way part here. This is not a situation of landlords doing behavior or aggression testing, this is a very unscientific visual identification that instantly disqualifies many wonderful responsible dog owners and their equally amazing dogs from renting).

Each of these pieces of the equation reinforces the next, creating a vicious cycle that causes the continued misperception and hardship for pit bulls that we as a community of advocates fight against every day.

The landlord problem is a very important piece of this puzzle that unfortunately I think is often overlooked. That is why I found it very interesting when Sandy Z. reached out to me to share her story. Sandy represents the other side of the landlord issue. She’s a landlord who actually cares about and encourages pit bulls in her properties. I had Sandy write up her thoughts and even some of her recent tactics to do her part to help find dogs homes:

“Fair housing should be expanded to include dog breeds, specifically the pit bull.

Anyone in rescue knows that these poor creatures have been on the short end of the stick for many years. Everyone who loves a pit bull knows how unfair it is. You hear stories daily of pit bulls needing homes because ‘my landlord won’t let me keep him.’

I am a landlord, and this is MY story.

I own apartments and have always been pet friendly. As a rescuer it’s my small chance to say thanks to people who save animals. My ads usually include some variation of the verbiage ‘pets welcome as long as they are treated as family members, not left outside. Small discount on your rent if your pet is a rescue.’ I’ve been doing this for eight years, and knock on wood it has served me well.

Last month I took this a step further. I had an apartment almost ready to rent out. There was a local stray pit bull who got picked up by animal control. They got him before I could figure out what to do with him. As he waited it out at the shelter, I was brainstorming what I could do for him.

One morning as I was waking up, my mind was wandering and this is when it popped into my head, ‘Hey, what if I advertise the apartment WITH the dog?’ I knew it was a long shot, but I had to try. Well, several applicants and a dodged bullet later, I found my dream tenant. It worked! On April 14, she moved in. She has since adopted another pet … a sweet kitty cat.

So all you landlords out there – I hope you open up your apartments so more homeless pets can be saved. My world has expanded so much because of the animal kingdom. I have responsible caring tenants who are all about ‘giving back.’ It has been a good business model with a conscience.”

Wow! Way to go Sandy! Yet another StubbyDog hero!

« « Homeless Pit Bulls Helping the Blind | Buddy’s Journey » »

Comments

39 Responses to “The Landlord Problem”
  1. WOW, talk about having a heart!

  2. barbaraleeanderson07090 says:

    God bless you, Sandy!  Your story should be made available to every local legislative body as a testament to the positive impact our pitties are capable of making.  I, too, have been blessed with a landlord who loves my pittie.  When I considered adopting several years back, I asked the landlord whether he or his insurance company had any breed restrictions.  He said no.  When I brought Miss Diva home, he was so happy to meet her.  And he continues to adore her to this day.  Landlords…..speak up!!  You really CAN make a difference.

  3. laurenwoods says:

    If there were more people (and landlords) like Sandy, the world would be a more compassionate place and there would be fewer dogs abandoned. Thank you Sandy for your stance on rescue!

  4. lovabull says:

    wow sandy! you are amazing. im a lucky one (in maryland no less) that has a landlord who doesnt descriminate but he definitely doesnt encourage!! you have brought tears to my eyes… 

  5. LindsayFernandez says:

    What a wonderful reverse from the norm. 

  6. MelanieMcKim says:

    Thanks so much Laura and Sandy! Sandy, I absolutely LOVE your approach! We are lucky to be in a HUGE metropolis in Phoenix, meaning, there are choices! It is not an option for us to give up dogs, instead we seek good landlords like you! In those communities where a landlord is held responsible, those laws need to change! The owner is always the problem, thank you again for standing up for that fact and encouraging rescue and responsible ownership!

  7. Kirstyn says:

    Sandy L, you are wonderful!!!!

  8. JanetHill says:

    Thank you Sandy L, you are an angel.

  9. millermorgan says:

    It’s nice to hear from the landlord side. Thanks for making that extra effort and taking the chance that people just might be able to be responsible. (Yeah, there are lots that aren’t, but there’s gotta be lots that are!)

  10. pitbullsrock says:

    Thank you, Sandy, for understanding the needs of people who cannot afford to buy a house, who love their dogs. Your problem solving skills are to be commended in relation to the stray pit bull. I love it!

  11. GVPC says:

    Bravo Sandy! Landlords can certainly be a problem for pet owners in general but a huge problem for those with bully breed dogs or even other breeds such as GSD, Dobies, etc. A couple of weeks ago I helped keep a dog from having to go to the shelter by negotiating with the owner and the landlord that the dog to get obedience training and earn her CGC. Its unfair that the owner has to do this because the landlord would not have had an issue with her dog if it had been any other breed. Hopefully the landlord will hold up their end of the deal. Many landlords just will not give an inch when it comes to renting to pet owners with pit bulls.

  12. cas027 says:

    I am a landlord in the Tampa Bay area.  We are a pet friendly community.  We have a “meet and greet policy” as part of our screening process. The dog(s) must be well cared for, socialized and non aggressive.   There are no breed restrictions.  In the lease the tenants sign they agree to always keep their dog’s vaccinations current, pick up after them and to never leave their dog unattended outside and always have them on a leash.  There is also a clause that if the pet owner fails to abide by these rules they will be given a letter “to cure” within three days or their pet(s) can no longer live at the complex.  We have three Pit Bulls, one German Shepard/Husky mix, one Puggle, one Husky, one Lab, and one Rat Terrier in a four-unit building and NO PROBLEMS.  Responsible people make responsible and courteous pet owners.  P.S.  All but one of the dogs is rescues.

    • pitbullsrock says:

      @ cas027  I love your meet and greet method. That’s what our Trail Dogs guy did for his evaluation as to whether my dogs were good candidates for riding in a van with up to 10 other dogs and going on off leash hikes in legal areas. His dog, a big yellow Lab, is the meeter and greeter. He brings him to your house and if your dogs welcome a new dog into the home with no problem, his experience is that they are well behaved and socialized. He said it’s worked so far in the 5 or 6 years he’s done it. He was especially impressed when my dogs let Jake chew one of their bones and play with a favorite ball.
      I think many landlords are not dog people, so it’s probably easier for them to just ban certain breeds. We need more landlords like you.

      • StubbyDog says:

        pitbullsrock Meet and greets are imperative for bringing new dogs into a household with dogs. and we agree, we too, wish there were more landlords like Sandy. The world would be a better place.

  13. ReneeMKeller says:

    What a great idea.  You are a hero!!  I hope many landlords out there read this and give it a try!!!  

  14. chuerta_1954 says:

    This is AWESOME.  I’m a pit bull advocate in Portland Oregon who receives at least one or more e-mails a month from someone who has a pit bull unable to find ‘pit bull friendly’ residential rentals in our area who are seeking my help.  I am currently working on this issue with whoever I can find to help but so far, after several months, I am still unable to help people with pit bulls find decent rental housing here in Portland. 
    Several months ago I tried to get an audience just to discuss the issue with our local National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM) only to be told by the chapter’s president that they had no interest in meeting with us in any capacity because (this is verbatim) ‘pit bulls are unpredictable and when they attack there is no way to stop them’.  I have not given up on meeting with this group of people but will have to give it some time until I have some other local renter/landlord rights organization to help me.
    This is truly an issue here in Portland and I’m sure in other areas as well.  If anyone out there has any suggestions on how to work this issue I’d truly appreciate the input and the assistance.
    Thank you,Cheryl HuertaCo-founder of the Portland Pit Bull ProjectFound of the Coast to Coast Bully Walk

    • StubbyDog says:

      chuerta_1954 Thank you for being such an amazing advocate for pit bulls. keep up the good work!

  15. avegas72 says:

    Great story. I love to hear that there are other landlords willing to rent to pitbull owners.I have been very blessed with my last THREE rental properties. The owners were not only smart enough to not buy into the media hype, but were also past and present pitbull owners. So they knew the truth…that pitties are wonderful dogs!

  16. JenniferVirgen says:

    this true my manager and the owner dont care if you have a pet, as loge as you take care of them and dont let them demage the place

  17. Wow Sandy, I want to rent from you! That is an amazing story.Thank you for being an advocate.

  18. PittieAmbassadors says:

    I am the owner of 37 units of rental property in Minneapolis, MN.  My company initiated a policy of ‘non-discrimnatory pet friendly rental residences’ in 1999. We started renting to dogs of all shapes and sizes (I was dedicated cat person at the time!). By 2002, after meeting my first few pit bulls, I fell in love with them and got my first one in 2003 (my cat adjusted over time LOL)  We have now been renting to pit bull families for over a decade and I have become such an advocate for the breed that I started ‘MyPitBullisFamily.com’ with a mission to end housing and insurance discrimination of pit bull families.MyPitBullisFamily is compiling a nationwide database of non-discriminatory housing and insurance providers by state. We desperately need all of you – owners, advocates and rescuers – to help us by acquiring and entering housing and insurance information for your region. We are in the process of developing a ‘non-discriminatory pet-friendly model’ to take to property owners and  managers nationwide to highlight the business benefits of renting to responsible owners. We are also determined to change the perception of pit bulls from ‘vicious’ to ‘FAMILY’ in every corner of the world. To this end we send FREE stickers out to any one who will display them LOUDLY and proudly in their community. We need to cover the entire nation with the truth that PIT BULLS ARE FAMILY and not ‘vicious killers!’  This is especially imperative after the disappointing votes in Miami and Maryland.  Do your part by displaying the FAMILY message on cars, boats, laptops, work bulletin boards,  bikes, wagons, strollers…you name it. Only TOGETHER, will we ‘Lick Discrimination’.  Please write us at [email protected] for your FREE stickers.  

  19. PittieAmbassadors says:

    I am the owner of 37 units of rental property in Minneapolis, MN. My company initiated a policy of ‘non-discrimnatory pet friendly rental residences’ in 1999. We started renting to dogs of all shapes and sizes (I was dedicated cat person at the time!). By 2002, after meeting my first few pit bulls, I fell in love with them and got my first one in 2003 (my cat adjusted over time LOL) We have now been renting to pit bull families for over a decade and I have become such an advocate for the breed that I started ‘MyPitBullisFamily.com’ with a mission to end housing and insurance discrimination of pit bull families.MyPitBullisFamily is compiling a nationwide database of non-discriminatory housing and insurance providers by state. We desperately need all of you – owners, advocates and rescuers – to help us by acquiring and entering housing and insurance information for your region. We are in the process of developing a ‘non-discriminatory pet-friendly model’ to take to property owners and managers nationwide to highlight the business benefits of renting to responsible owners.We are also determined to change the perception of pit bulls from ‘vicious’ to ‘FAMILY’ in every corner of the world. To this end we send FREE stickers out to any one who will display them LOUDLY and proudly in their community. We need to cover the entire nation with the truth that PIT BULLS ARE FAMILY and not ‘vicious killers!’ This is especially imperative after the disappointing votes in Miami and Maryland. Do your part by displaying the FAMILY message on cars, boats, laptops, work bulletin boards, bikes, wagons, strollers…you name it. Only TOGETHER, will we ‘Lick Discrimination’. Please write us at [email protected] for your FREE stickers.

  20. dogwalker2012 says:

    wow an apartment and a pit bull, too good to be true. great landlord, keep up the good work!

  21. barbaraleeanderson07090 says:

    What about a StubbyDog project to solicit testimonials from landlords, like Sandy, who have an open mind (and heart) and who have had actual positive experience with pitties as tenants.  Those testimonials could then be assembled into some type of medium (brochures, VIDEOS!) and distributed to the media and state real estate boards to educate and inform landlords and leasing agents about the incredible number of good tenants in this country who are responsible dog owners and the sweet and lovable pitties sharing the homes they rent.  Just a thought……

  22. Sylve says:

    I am in -DIRE- need of locating a new place to live!!!Very, very soon – I am moving from the AK to the OR; my daughter (PitBull), son (Lab), and Fiance are some dificulties astablishing a place for the four of us.I would very much appreciate it if i could somehow get ahold of Sandy, and if she could please, please help me.-!!!- Sandy -!!!-  please contact me. or someone please tell me how to get in contact with Sandy; this would be an amazing answer to our prayers and concerns.thanks!!Sylvia M.. – EMAIL:

  23. LauraCheng says:

    Awesome!!!

  24. Domovoi8 says:

    I had to leave my staffordshire bull terrier Gemma home with my parents when I moved to Memphis. Not because the city has a breed law or anything because I couldn’t afford it. My first thought was that “I’ll bring her up when i get financially stable. There are 3 or 4 pit bulls around the apartments so no big deal” Fast forward 7 months and I’m ready to bring Gemma. I’m so pumped and excited about it. I go to my landlord’s office to pay the 300 dollar deposit and I show her a picture of Gemma. Her response “I’ts illegal in the state of Mississippi to have “pit bulls” in multiple family housing.” I don’t mention seeing other pit bulls. I start volunteering at the local shelter just to be around animals and lo and behold the animal control officers tell me they’ve never heard of that law. I look it up and don’t find the law. I’ve found an apartment across the state line in the city of Memphis that doesn’t care about size or breed. I’d move in a heartbeat if I could afford it right now. I hate that people will never look past Gemma’s “look”. I wish more landlords were like the one in this article. i’d have my dog right now.

    • MelanieMcKim says:

      Domovoi8 I’m soooo sorry for you, that sucks :(! A good thing at least that she is safe with your parents, right? I hope you can move and bring her soon. I feel for ya!

  25. PittieAmbassadors says:

    I am the owner of 37 units of rental property in Minneapolis, MN. My company initiated a policy of ‘non-discrimnatory pet friendly rental residences’ in 1999. We started renting to dogs of all shapes and sizes (I was dedicated cat person at the time!). By 2002, after meeting my first few pit bulls, I fell in love with them and got my first one in 2003 (my cat adjusted over time LOL) We have now been renting to pit bull families for over a decade and I have become such an advocate for the breed that I started ‘MyPitBullisFamily.com’ with a mission to end housing and insurance discrimination of pit bull families.MyPitBullisFamily is compiling a nationwide database of non-discriminatory housing and insurance providers by state. We desperately need all of you – owners, advocates and rescuers – to help us by acquiring and entering housing and insurance information for your region. We are in the process of developing a ‘non-discriminatory pet-friendly model’ to take to property owners and managers nationwide to highlight the business benefits of renting to responsible owners.We are also determined to change the perception of pit bulls from ‘vicious’ to ‘FAMILY’ in every corner of the world. To this end we send FREE stickers out to any one who will display them LOUDLY and proudly in their community. We need to cover the entire nation with the truth that PIT BULLS ARE FAMILY and not ‘vicious killers!’ This is especially imperative after the disappointing votes in Miami and Maryland. Do your part by displaying the FAMILY message on cars, boats, laptops, work bulletin boards, bikes, wagons, strollers…you name it. Only TOGETHER, will we ‘Lick Discrimination’. Please write us at [email protected] for your FREE stickers.

  26. Matt.S says:

    Love it! Hopefully people follow Sandy into open minds & open homes!

  27. sillyfox4lyfe says:

    AWW that is truly amazing, rent an apartment, get a dog, sounds good to me!

  28. mrsdraven11 says:

    Great article! More helpful hints on this subject can be found here as well for any people who are having problems! http://www.badrap.org/renting-your-dog