As landlords of off-campus rental properties have begun to grant tenants the right to have a dog or cat around the house with the start of Fall Semester, some students are already finding that pet ownership can be a bittersweet endeavor.
Though a pet companion can be a fun addition to any home, miscommunication between landlords and tenants, the damage that these animals can cause to rental properties and inter-housemate relations are all areas of concern that students should consider before deciding to take on the responsibility.
Jansen Eaton, a junior studying political science, brought his German shepherd Keeba to his new home in University Courtyard, 366 Richland Ave., with the understanding that keeping his pet was allowed.
Instead, a misunderstanding with his landlord almost led Eaton to be kicked out of his property.
“They didn’t email me the pet addendum to go with the lease, and German shepherd is one of the five breeds of dogs not allowed,” Eaton said. “They realized that since they did not send me the pet addendum, it was their fault and that it would be fine as long as there weren’t any issues.”
For some landlords, the decision to appease tenants’ wishes to keep a pet has resulted in property damage that far exceeds the average wear and tear of an occupant.
“At my first rental property, a tenant had a kitten that sprayed everywhere,” said Patrick Pepper, a landlord with J.P. Valeda Capital, LLC. “It cost two or three thousand to have the house completely cleaned and the floors replaced.”
Even as landlords have to pay for pet damages, they’re unable to pick non-pet owners over pet owners when deciding who gets the lease.
“According to the real estate law, landlords can’t discriminate,” Pepper said. “A pet isn’t something that factors into how a renting company decides who gets to rent a place. It’s first come, first served over anything else.”
Pet ownership can become a group commitment in houses already fully stocked with tenants. Austin Long, a junior studying art history and a current tenant of Pepper’s, has stayed away from adopting a ferret for this reason.
“I know that the responsibility of caring for the animal would be pushed onto my roommates if I can’t be home for whatever reason,” Long said. “I just wouldn’t want to do that to my roommates for any reason.”