No Dogs Allowed
Island pet owners are left with few housing options.
|"I've been searching for two months for a place that will take me and
my 50-pound dog," says an exasperated Joe Randazzo, owner of the J Salon
downtown. "I've lived in Chicago and New York City, and Honolulu is definitely
a harder market for pet owners. I think this is one of those situations
where a couple of bad apples have ruined it for everyone."
"It's a landlord's market right now, so if it was a problem before, it's definitely a problem now for people looking for housing," agrees Jacque Smith, of the Hawaiian Humane Society. "We do get a lot of people surrendering their animals for this reason."
A casual survey of the Sunday ads for unfurnished houses for rent showed that, of the first 125 listings, 36 stated "no pets," while only nine said pets were "OK" or "negotiable."
According to Cynthia Keolanui, manager of community outreach at the Hawaiian Humane Society, 56 percent of the households on O'ahu have pets. So why are property owners so quick to say no?
"There is now a law that prohibits a landlord from charging an extra pet deposit," says Karen Konz, a realtor associate with Century 21 Homefinders of Hawai'i. Konz sees the pet issue from both sides-she runs a pet-friendly real estate business, Pets OK!, and is also a landlord. "If you had a one-bedroom you're renting out and the carpet gets damaged, you're talking thousands to replace it." Smells, stains and barking are landlords' biggest concerns, she says, and, without the additional pet deposit, property owners have less protection.
Konz says she minimizes problems with her tenants by pre-screening pets. And, "I rip out the carpeting immediately every place I buy and put in hard floors. That way, if a pet has an accident, it's less of a big deal. You get a longer-term tenant by just making a few accommodations for pet lovers. Having a tenant move out every six months is a hassle. That's harder on the property than a pet."
Steph Sato, owner of a German Shepherd and renter of a cottage in the Kapa-hulu/Diamond Head Area, thinks that the problem isn't so much a lack of pet-friendly housing, as a lack of affordable pet-friendly housing. "If I had $2,000 to $3,000 per month to spend on rent, it would not be that much of a problem for me to find a place," she says. Location is an issue, too. "Most of the housing that did allow pets was on the North Shore or in Kailua," she says.
"A lot of my clients face the pet dilemma," says Jon Mann, a realtor associate with Summie Li Realtor.
"We have a friendly community," Mann continues. "I wish we were more pet friendly. A lot of property owners will say that pets damage property over time, that the wear and tear on the facility is greater. But there's also that matter of balance, a balance of quality of life. And I don't think we've yet reached that balance."