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A Real Pet Peeve


My 90-pound lab--the archenemy of many a local landlord.

For the past several months, I’ve been casually looking for a new place to call home. On paper, I’m the perfect tenant: A quiet, non-partying, mature adult with a steady paycheck. Finding my dream rental should be a walk in the park, right? It might be, except for one not-so-small detail: My 90-pound chocolate lab.

Honolulu is not a particularly pet-friendly place for would-be renters, which is odd given the fact that, according to the Hawaii Humane Society, more than 60 percent of Oahu households have pets. For every 15 listings I peruse, there’s only one that allows pets, and it’s either cost prohibitive or comes with a myriad of restrictions (size limit, breed limit, outside-pets only). After seeing the SORRY, NO PETS tag line a few too many times, I started looking beyond the classifieds, and found a few helpful resources.

The Hawaiian Humane Society’s Pets in Housing program (www.hawaiianhumane.org/pets_housing.html) strives to connect pet-loving landlords with Oahu pet owners. While the program’s Web site currently offers only a small handful of rentals (hopefully more landlords will catch on), there’s also a wealth of useful information, including pet health forms and tips for working with landlords. A second option is Pets OK (www.petsok.com), a local service that tracks down rental listings from online sources, property management firms and homeowners and assembles them into a consolidated list, which is e-mailed to clients daily. While it isn’t free—a one-month subscription is $70—it could spare you the hair-pulling frustration.

Here are a few additional pointers to help you with your search:
• Try contacting a property manager or realtor who may be able to point you in the right direction.
• Demonstrate Fido’s or Fifi’s good temperament by obtaining references from previous landlords, neighbors or homeowners’ associations, as well as your pet’s trainer, day care or kennel.
• Provide a certificate of health from your veterinarian that shows your pet is up to date on vaccinations and flea and tick prevention.
• Put everything in writing. A verbal agreement that pets are allowed on the premises is not enough.
• Offer to sign a pet addendum that states that you will be held responsible for any damage, pest infestation or injury to others. The Pets in Housing page has an easy-to-use template form.
• Offer to allow the landlord to meet your pet, ideally in your current, sparkling-clean rental.
• Here’s something to keep in mind: As noted in the Hawaii Residential Landlord-Tenant Code handbook, the “total amount of deposits cannot exceed one month’s rent,” meaning that landlords cannot require an additional pet deposit on top of a security deposit already equal to one month’s rent.

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