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.”

FEBRUARY
HEADS UP!

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.