Dogs and Long-Term Rentals: It’s a Kerfuffle

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Tim HausermanThe Tahoe/Truckee region is known as a dog’s world. But is it really? While there is a high percentage of Tahoe folks who own dogs, there are also lots of homes available for long-term rentals that don’t allow dogs.

According to Colin Frolich, co-founder and CEO of Placemate (formerly Landing Locals), “43% of households seeking a rental in the Truckee/Tahoe area have pets. 1,115 out of 2,540 households that have renter profiles in our system have a pet.” Yet, historically, Frolich says only about half the homes set up for long-term renting allow dogs.

Why is it sometimes a challenge to find a place that will allow your beloved Rex? There are certainly many trustworthy dogs that don’t damage homes (like yours for example, that cute little angel, look at that face!). On the flip side, there have been plenty of homes returned to owners with scratched doors and wood floors, soiled carpet, torn screens, and significant excavation projects in the backyard, designed by Rover to catch that blasted squirrel.

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One homeowner I spoke with, who wished to remain anonymous, said that they rented their house in Carnelian Bay for nearly 20 years to a variety of long-term tenants. During that time, dogs scratched up the floors, chewed off pieces of the door jambs and trim, and — the last straw — caused the neighbors to regularly complain about noise and unruly dogs. Eventually they couldn’t take it anymore and switched to renting short term, which ended the dog complaints. They were reluctant to make the switch because they understand the crisis in long-term housing, but it was just getting too expensive and frustrating to continue renting long-term.

Fortunately, this homeowner’s experience may be an exception. Lauren Kilbourne, property manager for Tahoe Truckee Homes, who handles a large number of homes rented out long-term, says, “We have a fair amount of rentals that have pets. Many good renters and families come with pets. We have had good success. We have only had one property in the last 12 years with damage from pets. A lot of it has to do with making sure the tenant and pet are appropriate for the property.”

Success in renting to people with dogs requires effective screening for dog owners who have trained their dogs well and always clean up after their pets.

“I like to meet the animal first, make sure they are well behaved. A lot of houses don’t have fences, so the dogs don’t leave the house,” said Kilbourne. Should that be the case, she wants to ensure the dog is mellow enough to not damage the property when mom and dad are away. 

Kilbourne says there are certainly some homeowners who will never allow dogs in their homes, whether it be due to past bad experiences with tenants or allergies that could be triggered if they move back into the property. 

Frolich says that one solution that seems to alleviate the fear of some homeowners is to charge a little extra for the pet on top of regular rent, usually just $25 to $50 per month.

HUNGER GAMES: Even well-behaved dogs can have a lapse in judgment sometimes, like Bodhi (left) and Bruce, who were busted trying to break into the treat cabinet.

“We did some research,” he said. “Other communities were doing it and it seemed like an interesting idea.” With an extra $500 a year, a homeowner has a bit more peace of mind about the extra wear and tear that pets can cause.

Frolich agrees with Kilbourne that it is helpful for the owner or agent to meet the dog and be provided pet references from prior lessors. There also seems to be much fewer complaints for both damage and noise if there is just one dog in the house instead of two or more.

Of course, the key for dog owners who are long-term renting is to make sure their doggie is a good doggie and doesn’t damage the home or cause problems with the neighbors. While the cost of repairs is important to an owner, perhaps more important is avoiding the hassle and frustration of finding people to repair the damage caused by a dog, and dealing with phone calls from irate neighbors who are not thrilled with the antics of the dog barking next door or the amount of poop that has somehow miraculously appeared in their yard. While renters may consider their dogs family and can’t imagine living without them, if they become Dogs Behaving (Very) Badly, to the homeowners or the neighbors, they are just a nuisance.

As a community, we also should care about dogs that cause damage or incite the neighbors to complain. Every time a tenant’s dog results in an owner no longer wanting to rent long-term, we lose a badly needed housing option for our local residents.

Author

  • Tim Hauserman

    Tim Hauserman latest book is “Going it Alone: Ramblings and Reflections from the trail” published in 2022. He also wrote the official guidebook to the Tahoe Rim Trail, the 4th edition of which was published in 2020. His other books include “Monsters in the Woods: Backpacking with Children” and "Gertrude's Tahoe Adventures in Time." Tim has lived in Tahoe City since he was a little tyke and continues to be amazed with the beauty of Lake Tahoe. His former English teachers, on the other hand, are probably amazed that he became a writer. Contact Tim at writeonrex@yahoo.com

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