pet policy based on credit score

9 Replies

So, let me get this straight.  I'm just trying to wrap my mind around one more restriction on landlord's rights...I can deny a prospective tenant based on credit score, but not a pet?!

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This is discrimination because it creates an "unequal" restriction upon one subgroup of individuals. When you are creating your rental criteria don't try to get creative. Keep it clean and simple and treat all people the same. Every applicant should be put under the same requirements.

Using a credit score to determine a good pet owner is not really a sound idea. What if your tenant has a great credit score but looks at their pet as property- keeps it outside, unfixed & never sees the vet? I would use the credit score to determine paying habits & then ask for vet references for their pet. If the vet says they're good pet owners then you can use the credit score to determine if they're a safe risk.

I have a friend with very little credit. They always paid cash while in college. They have graduated & are working so can afford to pay. Their pets get better care than they do themselves. The dogs go to the vet for the least little thing while they put off going to the doctor unless it's a big deal. Their landlord loves them & they've been renting there almost 2 years. They pay rent 6 months in advance.

I'm not a lawyer, but I wouldn't say this is "illegal". I don't think pet owners and/or people with crappy credit are protected classes. I could easily say I will not rent to circus clowns or  astronauts, and I think I'd be okay. 

But, I think you're limiting yourself by doing this. I would stick to simple criteria. Instead of allowing a small dog for a good credit score, why not just tack on a non-refundable pet deposit IF an applicant otherwise qualifies? It makes more sense financially. Look at their whole picture. Advertising the pet for credit score will probably limit the interest, to include from potential tenants who might actually qualify.

I don't see it as discrimination against a protected class, but I'm no lawyer either.

I suspect there is not enough causal relationship between those two to make one a condition of the other. Either accept pets with a deposit to cover damages or decline for all.

Dont know if it's illegal, but do know it's irrational. 

Many people cannot afford good care for themselves because they take 

such good care of their pets, and home.  

Adversly, would you really want someone who has pristine credit 

but kicks their dog?  It just doesn't add up to a reliable way to screen tenants.

If your concern is really about the pet then just say that you reserve the right to interview it for fit.  You have to screen the pet just as much as you screen your tenant.  This can be done with an animal independent of the candidate's credit score.  

I agree with Phillip. My sister was in grad school & wanted to rent a condo. The owner wasn't really happy renting to someone with pets until she met my sister & her pets. Plus my sister had vet references & a letter from her last landlord giving her positive recommendations.