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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."

Joe Randazzo and his dog, Sally, are among the many Honoluluans facing a shortage of pet friendly rentals. Photo: Gina Finkelstein

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."


Look sharp—Feb-ruary’s a short, 28-day month, and most of its festivities are crowded in at the beginning. Punahou Carnival is on Feb. 4 and 5, Super Bowl Sunday on Feb. 6, Mardi Gras on Feb. 8 and the Pro Bowl on Feb. 13.

The Chinese Year of the Rooster begins on Feb. 9, but festivities begin the week before at the Mun Fa Cultural Plaza. Call the Chinese Chamber of Commerce for details (533-3181).

The Chinese New Year is immediately followed by the Islamic one. Feb. 10 is Muharram, the start of the Islamic year 1426.

Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, falls on a Monday this year. If you can manage it on such short notice, get off work and get off the island for a romantic three-day weekend with your sweetie.

The 21st Annual Great Aloha Run takes place on President’s Day, Monday, Feb. 21. Watch out for traffic between Aloha Tower and Aloha Stadium that day.

February is Black History Month, American Heart Month and National Pet Month. It also contains National Flirting Week, Feb. 14 through 20.

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Honolulu Magazine March 2019
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