Dogs and Rentals... a Mixed Breed?

Real Estate Agent with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox and Roach Northfield DRE#1008764

   So the old saying goes that dogs are a man's best friend. Well, they may be, but not if you're looking to rent a place to live. In the age of foreclosures and short sales, this has become a prevalent problem. When people call looking for rentals, they will answer every question that you ask them, and then when you say ask do you have a pet, they tap dance around the topic...  Then the conversation goes like this:

   "Well, I have a dog."  

   I ask, "What kind of dog."

   "It's a mix."

   "Well, what kind of mix?"

    "If I knew what kind of a mix it was, I guess I'd be able to tell you."

   To which is them to text me a picture. (Yes, I am an insane lover of dogs, and I can probably tell you what breed it is) At this point, they start to squirm. One actually said, "I have a terrier."  To which I finish the sentence with, "Stafford?" (Essentially, it's a pit bull.) Nine times out of ten, when they won't come straight out with it, it's a pitbull mix, or Rottweiler mix, or Doberman mix, or Chow.. Now listen, coming from an owner of giant dogs, I'm only speaking facts here.  I was in the same position once...

   Here's what most renters don't understand. We may absolutely LOVE dogs. We may even love certain breeds more than others. But what most potential renters don't understand, or don't want to hear, is the liability factor that is involved. If your dog, any breed of dog, bites someone, it becomes a potential lawsuit to the owner of the house. Yes, you will also have repercussions, but ultimately the owner of the home can be sued.  Saying, "Well, my dog doesn't bite!  He's a sweetheart!" doesn't help, trust me.  There can always be that one time that you don't see coming. In turn, this raises their homeowners insurance, among other things but, it can be even worse than that...

   Case in point: A very good friend of mine that I recently sold a home, learned this first hand. She had an insurance claim for roof damage on her home after a storm. The insurance company sent the adjuster out, and he knocked on the door. Now, my friend is a lover of dogs, so much so that she has six of them(it's a BIG house). They're a mixed bunch of all different kinds of breeds, she adopts them. So the guy knocks, she opens the door, they all come running, and he looks down at just ONE of them wagging his tail...

   "What's that?" he asks. She said, "I think it's a dog?"  He asks, "What kind of dog?" She said, "He is a terrier." He said, "No it's not." She said,  "Yes, it IS, it's a Staffordshire." He said, "No, it's a pitbull." Now, where am I going with this? Well, he filed her insurance claim alright, and she got a notice of cancellation of her home owners insurance Fed exed the next day. Why?

   Well, did you know that the insurance company actually has a list of breeds of dog that are not allowed if a home is to be insured with any given insurance company?  I sure didn't!   Common breeds are any pure breed or mixed breed of pitbull, Rottweiler, Doberman, and a bunch of others. She was told that if she didn't get rid of the dog, they would not reinstate her policy. Needless to say, she found another insurance company. But, my point is, potential tenants need to understand that when they are looking for a rental, if they own any of these breeds of dog, it is going to be difficult at minimum. The owner may absolutely love dogs, but they are not willing to risk getting sued if your dog happens to bite someone.

   This is not doggie discrimination, its a rule. That's why when you get an MLS rental listing, it will possibly say "yes with restrictions." That usually means size and/or breed of dog. There may also be a size restriction within condo association. So please, if you are looking for a rental and you own any of these type of dog, understand that you are going to have a more difficult time finding a rental. More importantly, please understand that you must disclose what breed of dog you have, and be honest about it. Not disclosing honestly what breed of dog you have is considered a violation of your contract. You would end up finding yourself with no where to live before you were ever allowed to move in. As an agent, it puts us in a very bad position if that happens, as the listing agent can blame us for failure to disclose that you had such a breed of dog. So, please, when we ask you: Be honest and upfront with your agent from the start. It is far easier for us to help you if we know from the beginning what we're dealing with.  There are plenty of landlords that will rent to you, we will help you find one!


Whether you're looking to buy a home, or trying to sell a home, I can help! We have the best real estate marketing to get your house sold, best realtor services ever!  I cover Atlantic County, NJCape May County, NJOcean County, NJCumberland County, NJ, , Gloucester County, NJCamden County, NJ  and Burlington County, NJ, too!  Pick a town, any town!  Need some suggestions?  Ok!  Absecon, Galloway, Egg Harbor Township, Northfield, Linwood, Somers Point, Ocean City, Sea Isle, Hammonton, Williamstown, Sicklerville, Mullica, Tuckahoe, Middle Township, Upper Township, Lower Township, Rio Grande, Seaside Heights, Seaside Park, New Gretna, and Port Republic.  Any you don't see here?  CALL ME!  I'm sure I'm on it!

Chris :0)

Christine Gerbehy

Berkshire Hathaway Fox and Roach Realtors

Northfield Office

1001 Tilton Rd. Northfield, NJ 08225



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  1. Jack Gerbehy 01/01/2016 11:53 PM
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Richard Robibero, e-Pro, ABR, SRS
Panorama R.E. Limited - Toronto, ON
Selling Your Home as if it were My Own!

It really comes down to the person for me. I have seen single people treat the property like dirt and people with dogs in pristine condition. I guess I have a sixth sense for tenants as I can tell if they'll be good tenants usually by the initial email or phonecall.

To your point about insurance however, this is a very good thing to watch for and one that many people may not be aware of.

Jan 01, 2016 10:04 PM #27
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

The deposit makes all dogs welcomed. Higher the deposit, more love

Jan 01, 2016 10:21 PM #28
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning Christine. I appreciate this. I was a landlord and actually preferred folks with dogs because I found they were responsible and responsive. Too bad about the insurance thing.

Jan 01, 2016 10:42 PM #29
Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

Dogs over pigs for people can be a better situation, condition to have in your lap. 

Jan 01, 2016 11:11 PM #30
Shirley Coomer
Keller Williams Realty Sonoran Living - Phoenix, AZ
Realtor, Keller Williams Realty, Phoenix Az

Great post.  You are so right that tenants to not understand by there are rules about dogs.  My client is selling his condo and the lease states the tenants can have one dog which he new about.  Here comes the home inspections and there are two dogs living there.  Nice, well behaved, but still two not one.  Many tenants do not expect the owner will find out about additional pets or they don't understand there are restricted pets.  They have no ides they are risking the owner's insurance coverage (or no coverage with an incident).  Great blog to bookmark!

Jan 01, 2016 11:38 PM #31
Christine Gerbehy
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox and Roach Northfield - Egg Harbor Township, NJ
Making waves, one home at a time...

Good Morning, Sheila!  So true!  The insurance thing is tough, you never know who covers what...

Jan 01, 2016 11:39 PM #32
Amy Gutschow
RE/MAX - Sheboygan, WI
Professional Real Estate

It's a sad problem but when you don't own the home you don't have all the freedom you  would as a home owner.  period.

Jan 02, 2016 01:14 AM #33
Rob Arnold
Sand Dollar Realty Group, Inc. - Altamonte Springs, FL
Metro Orlando Full Service - Investor Friendly & F

I always try to accommodate tenants with dogs (assuming they don't have one of the wrong breeds you mentioned). My rentals have slowly been converted to tile flooring everywhere. Tenants with dogs have a hard time finding rentals so you can charge them extra rent and deposits and they typically are thankful that you rented to them at all.

Jan 02, 2016 01:53 AM #34
Stacey Roller
Baystate/Sunstate Realty (MA & FL) - Swampscott, MA

Lots of calls on people with "companion pets" now...all total BS--I love it when they demand you have to take the companion pet...makes a mockery of people with real ADA service animals.  Never have had a good experience with tenants and dogs.  They smell no matter what breed, shed and ruin things!

Jan 02, 2016 04:28 AM #35
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Christine it is a sad situation with the dogs, their owners, the insurance companies...the list goes on and on. I am a proud Pet Friendly Realtor and my dog's breed type is "Rescue".... in all fairness we have come a long way in the past 30+ years, but there is still a long road ahead. Well deserved Gold Star, Happy New Year, Endre

Jan 02, 2016 05:06 AM #36
J.R. Schloemer, CRS
Kentucky Select Properties - Louisville, KY

I am not in the rental arena, and have transitioned away from a brokerage with a bunch of rentals. If my memory serves me correctly, they always said, something along the lines of, "the $10,000 in destruction the pets can do, doesn't make for a profitably lease." So they do not let them in the properties.

Jan 02, 2016 05:43 AM #37
Rob D. Shepherd
Windermere/lane county - Florence, OR
Principal Broker GRI, SRES

I am a landlord and DOG LOVER! No you cannot rent from me if you have any kind of dog for the reasons already listed.

Jan 02, 2016 06:29 AM #38
John Novak
Keller Williams Realty The Marketplace - Las Vegas, NV
Henderson, Las Vegas and Summerlin Real Estate

We have similar breed restrictions in the Las Vegas area. I firmly believe it's much more about the owner than the dog, but we can't fight the insurance companies.

Jan 02, 2016 12:59 PM #39
Margaret Woda
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. - Crofton, MD
Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation

In the greater Crofton area, very few landlords will even consider allowing tenants to have a dog. With good reason! 

Jan 02, 2016 10:53 PM #40
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

Thanks for covering this huge issue. These days, it's hard to find someone who doesn't own a dog although rental and co-op buildings have not kept up with the times. Obviously, I understand the liability issue perfectly. It's just becoming more difficult to make a match.

Jan 02, 2016 11:56 PM #41
Nicole Doty - Gilbert Real Estate Expert
Zion Realty - Gilbert, AZ
Broker/Owner of Zion Realty

It's absolutely someone's right to own whatever breed of dog they'd like but it's also a landlord's right to rent or not rent a home based upon animals. 

Jan 03, 2016 07:40 AM #42
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Great post!

Renting these days is a real challenge, and even harder for those with dogs. There are all sorts of restrictions, either by the landlords, or by the condo communities the rentals are in. Knowing what kind of dog, the size, and if more than 1 can be very important. I'd say that half the rentals in our area do not allow dogs at all. And those that do may charge an additional deposit for one or more dogs


Jan 03, 2016 12:08 PM #43
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

It's rarely the dogs' fault, but the owners, who don't get them spayed/neutered, they roam.  

Jan 04, 2016 04:27 AM #44
Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty
Front Gate Real Estate - Brandon, MS
601-991-2900 Office; 601-278-4513 Cell

Christine, you made an excellent point. Although your friend is a homeowner, the breed of dog caused her insurance to be canceled! It is a liability for landlords; tenants should tell the truth because the truth will come out eventually.

Jan 04, 2016 09:22 AM #45
Christine Gerbehy
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox and Roach Northfield - Egg Harbor Township, NJ
Making waves, one home at a time...

Pat Starnes I would have NEVER known!

Jan 04, 2016 01:42 PM #46
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