Guidelines for Renting to Pet Owners

When I was a teenager I had a cat named Jiggers. She was a Calico, mainly white with some splashes of black scattered about. She was overall a gentle and well-behaved cat adopted from the Humane Society. There was one tiny problem though; she was definitely a house cat, one who totally freaked out when anyone tried to take her outside. The claws would come out, she screamed like a banshee, and it was almost impossible to hold onto her. A few years later I moved out into my own apartment, and even though the move was difficult for Jiggers, we made it into the new place. After a few days it seemed that she had adapted, finding her favorite chair, and sitting in the window looking out at a world that she so desperately feared. After a few years, a job offer took me out of town and circumstances at home with my Mom made it impossible for Jiggers to go back there. I reluctantly decided to call the Humane Society and have her put up for adoption. I hoped that she would find a good home, but in the back of my mind I knew that she was an older cat and maybe nobody would want her. The apartment that I was moving into didn’t allow pets and I just didn’t have the time to look for another one.

The day came for them to come and get Jiggers. Two women showed up with a truck. Jiggers was sitting in her favorite chair, licking her paw. One of the women went over and picked her up and started walking towards the door. Jiggers was purring contently. I warned her that the cat would go completely crazy if you tried to take her outside. She ignored my advice and ended up bringing Jiggers back inside with several claw marks on her arm. At this point the second lady said that she could handle the cat. Picking her up by the scruff of her neck, she tried to go outside. The result was the same. Jiggers managed to turn around and put several deep scratches on her arm. Finally, they had to noose her and put her into a box to get her out to the truck. I called the Humane Society several days later to see how she was and found out that, sadly, she hadn’t survived the trip. She had basically torn herself to pieces in the back of the truck. It was the last cat that I ever owned.

It is estimated that about half of all renters in the United States have pets. Many landlords have their own horror stories of renters with pets-abandoned pets, barking dogs, and damage to the apartment. However, with a little planning and pre-screening, opening your doors to pet owners can be a win-win situation. The following guidelines may prove helpful:

Limit the number of pets per household. Most municipalities have limitations. Abide by them.

Allow only traditional pets such as dogs, cats, hamsters, gerbils, small caged birds, and fish.

Require written proof of sterilization, vaccinations, and licenses.

Require that collars with identification be worn at all times.

Ask pet owners to follow a written set off rules. Include standards for cleanliness, “scoop the poop rules,” back up phone numbers of people who can care for the pets in case of an emergency, and food storage suggestions.

You may also ask for references from previous landlords, whether or not the pet has any medical or behavioral problems, and whether they are treated regularly for fleas and ticks, and, of course, whether or not they are house or litter trained.

By allowing pets you are opening your doors to 50% more potential occupants and studies have shown that responsible pet owners stay longer.

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