Pit bulls in low income housing

26 Replies

Does anyone have experience allowing pit bulls or other "dangerous breeds" in low income housing units? What is the liability to the home owner if I put a specific clause in the lease regarding pet behavior and owner responsibility. I'm investing in Baltimore city in case that's relevant.

I would first ask why would you want to deal with all those issues?  

Low income, pit bulls, crime, non paying renters,etc......

It would be creating a headache.

Medium buymemphisnow stacksCurt Davis, Buy Memphis Now | [email protected] | 605‑310‑7929 | http://www.BuyMemphisNow.com | TN Agent # 00321765

Good question.

What you put in your lease will not protect you if you allow "dangerous breeds" if someone is hurt.  Will a repairman take care of repairs if he knows about the dog? 

 Will you feel safe doing inspections or having a discussion about past due rent?  

I won't even buy a rental where there is a dangerous breed close by.

I'd ask your insurance agent and let us know what they say.

I've found working in low-income areas as a nurse to be fairly safe and 95% of the owners will gladly put their animals away.    I was bitten by a pit at work one day.  The granddaughter accidentally let it in.   It hurt, but no major injuries.  

new investor sold on champaign dreams of amazing cash flow?

Originally posted by @Stephanie Lella :

Does anyone have experience allowing pit bulls or other "dangerous breeds" in low income housing units? What is the liability to the home owner if I put a specific clause in the lease regarding pet behavior and owner responsibility. I'm investing in Baltimore city in case that's relevant.

 You'd need to see if your insurance would cover them.  Then know that no matter what you put in your lease, if someone decides to sue over anything the dog did, they'll also name you in the lawsuit.  

My experience with a very sweet pit bull my daughter inherited from a boyfriend, is that the dog was enormously destructive.  My daughter had the dog in her own home, and had a fenced back yard.  That dog destroyed the fence on a regular basis, and also wreaked havoc on the siding of the house.  She built a wooden fenced run for the dog, and it destroyed that.  Fences it couldn't get through - it dug huge holes under.

Very sweet dog, but very destructive.  A large, very strong dog with very powerful jaws can make mincemeat of your property in no time flat.

She gave it back to the ex-boyfriend.

All you are doing is asking for trouble .

Pitbulls? Really? Screw that.

Formula is ,,,,

Pitbulls X Low income = EXPENSES > income

Remember, you are in business to make money. Throw away any of your politically correct fantasies. You're in a business world, not a charity 

We simply don't allow dangerous breeds. Yes, most are fine. My friend has a pit bull that's the sweetest dog ever. But who wants to deal with the liability, potential property damage and tenant relations issues (in a multifamily) if it happens to be one of the not-so-nice ones.

Medium apartment logoAndrew Syrios, Stewardship Investments | http://www.StewardshipProperties.com | Podcast Guest on Show #121

What are your policies on dangerous and exotic pets?  

What are your policies on non dangerous and non exotics?  

Have you decided that you want the extra expenses that animals will add to your rentals?

We don't allow them in ours, but I have read on the forums and listened in podcasts that those that do allow pets require meeting the pet.  At the end of the day if there is an animal on your property, YOU need to feel comfortable going to that property.  If the dog doesn't behave well in front of you, it will not behave well in front of any other stranger (repairman, mail carrier, etc).  Any clause won't prevent someone from suing you.  This is America -- land of the litigious. If you are looking to avoid liability, don't allow them.  

As for what you would be liable for -- seek the advice of an attorney and find out what the local laws are (City, County, State etc).  

I hope that helps.

Medium erm logoMichael Roy MBA, EastRoy Management, LLC

@Stephanie Lella

I have a "no pets" clause in the lease. If the tenant obtains a pet after signing my lease, that is a breach of the lease, which could be subject to fine and/or eviction. I think you have to make that clear (or have your property manager make that clear) at the time the tenant signs the lease. Then follow up as needed.

It gets a little more complicated if you are buying a rental with a good-paying tenant in place who already owns an animal. If the animal is an aggressive or destructive dog, you do not buy the property. Safety, potential liability and maintenance concerns weigh too heavily against the acquisition. 

I did acquire a good cash-flow property where the tenant owned a cat. Cats can also be destructive--this one had chewed the quarter-round on the baseboard, for example. But I allowed the tenant to keep the cat (I wanted to keep the tenant) but made it clear that she, not I, would be responsible for repairs of cat-induced damage. 

But cats also keep rodents at bay, and unlike pit bulls (a pair of which mauled a child in my neighborhood last year), a cat usually does not present a major safety or liability problem. 

Use your common sense. Protect your tenants and protect yourself.

Good luck,

Nancy Roth

@Stephanie Lella

One more thing: ONLY ONE cat. No more than one because cats tend to take over the environment (with shed fur, litter box, etc.) and it's very hard to take it back. Gets unhealthy really quickly unless cats are well-cared for--and unfortunately you don't get to tell your tenants how to take care of their animals.

Nancy Roth

I read your bio and given your relatively new status as an investor and it appears you will be hiring a management firm as you are not local to Baltimore, I'd recommend you:

  • Establish yourself as an investor of mid-priced properties first so as to gain experience and a solid financial foundation
  • Work with your attorney to draft contracts to protect you as much as possible when you do allow pit bills in any property
  • Work with your insurance company to make certain you will be covered despite the breed

If you can't get insurance or your attorney sees no good way to protect you from liability then you have a decision to make about how much of your personal wealth you are ready to risk to law suits.  Definitely do not buy the property in your own name, your attorney can help advise you (talk to a CPA as well).

[email protected] | 617‑969‑0453 | http://www.REinMass.com | MA Agent # 111679

Originally posted by @Nancy Roth :

@Stephanie Lella

One more thing: ONLY ONE cat. No more than one because cats tend to take over the environment (with shed fur, litter box, etc.) and it's very hard to take it back. Gets unhealthy really quickly unless cats are well-cared for--and unfortunately you don't get to tell your tenants how to take care of their animals.

Nancy Roth

I can vouch for the cat issue.  I have two cats and even though the cats are brushed to remove excess fur, every day the floors are cleaned of fur.  The litter box has to be changed frequently so they won't refuse to use it.

I don't allow cats in my rentals because many people don't take care of their animals properly.

Dawn Anastasi, Core Properties, LLC | http://www.coreprop.biz | Podcast Guest on Show #29

I also just read that you are overseas .  Read about the current riots in Baltimore before you invest .

I personally meet and approve all pets, and I won't approve anything that I'd be uncomfortable entering in case of emergency.  Nothing that looks even remotely like a pit bull.  Our insurance allows it, but I don't want to mess with it.  We get a ton of calls about breeds and turn people away.  If you are comfortable doing it, be sure you get a premium in rent.  It could be a niche.

A bit off topic but I think its important to understand that someone can bring a dog (including a APBT) in a non pet friendly house under the FHA laws as a ESA (emotional support animal) or SD (service dog). As per the breed I would worry about the mind set of low income tenets more then the breed of dog they have. Responsible people are responsible no matter the breed of dog or any other pet for that matter. Full disclosure my last service animal was a APBT he was great.

As with all pets, it's the owner, not the pet. Any dog will destroy any property if the owner is a bad pet owner.

Maryland just got rid of breed specific legislation, so it's up to your insurance company and your ability to judge owners and their dogs. Be careful, though. You don't want to end up in trouble with discriminating for the wrong reasons. Having a pet (absent it being an emotional support animal) is a valid reason to discriminate. 

Originally posted by @Jonathan Casillas :

A bit off topic but I think its important to understand that someone can bring a dog (including a APBT) in a non pet friendly house under the FHA laws as a ESA (emotional support animal) or SD (service dog). As per the breed I would worry about the mind set of low income tenets more then the breed of dog they have. Responsible people are responsible no matter the breed of dog or any other pet for that matter. Full disclosure my last service animal was a APBT he was great.

 I also have a service dog.  If a service dog puts a landlord in a financial hardship, though, the landlord can refuse the request for a "reasonable accommodation" for a disability.  So, if the landlord couldn't get insurance if he allowed pit bulls on the property, or could show his premiums would skyrocket, he'd be justified in saying no to a reasonable accommodation to a service animal that was a pit bull, or any other breed that couldn't be insured.

I have two pit bulls and a german shepherd and as you all can probably imagine, I had a hard time finding someone who would rent to my roommates and me.  We did find a place and are paying $150 more per month than what he was originally asking.  I am a responsible pet owner and am relatively certain that my dogs have not caused anything close to $1800 worth of damage in the year we've lived here.  Part of my motivation for investing in rental properties is the ability to allow good pet owners with potentially dangerous breeds to find housing.  I certainly understand that some breeds are more likely to damage property than others, but the fact is that the behavior of dogs is almost completely dependent upon how they are raised and treated by their owners.  As a landlord I would obviously require the owner to let me meet and spend some time with the dogs and to have some kind of renters insurance to protect me from potential mistakes (regardless of the breed).  Like Michele mentioned, I feel that this could be a good niche marketing strategy if I charge and extra premium, considering the very small percentage of owners/property managers I came across in my rental search that allowed these breeds.  Is this completely unreasonable?  If anyone has successfully and consistently rented to owners of pit bulls, rottweilers, german shepherds, etc, please share.  I refuse to believe at this point that it is not possible, but I do understand there is risk involved and that "aggressive breed" dogs who are not well trained can be destructive and dangerous. 

Any dog can be dangerous and/or destructive.  I've been chased by plenty of dogs in my time - few of which are on the dangerous breeds list, and very seldom do I get chased by a dog that is bigger than a shoebox.  the little ones are the biggest problems for me.

Unfortunately my experience with pitbulls in low income areas is the owners trying to look like badasses by walking around with a gnarly looking pitbull - but you'd be an idiot to think a pitbull, or the others included on that list are the only dangerous breed.  

My experience with pitbulls with mid to higher end tenants is they are often times great pets and are no better or worse than a poodle.

Your market is also going to play a role in establishing your pets policy.  In some areas as much as 70% of tenant applications we get include a dog as a pet.  If I were to say "NO DOGS" I would be losing a lot of tenant prospects.   

Remember, humans are animals too- and I've seen a lot of humans that are way more destructive than any dog.

I will never officially allow dangerous breeds in my units...which are also baltimore city.

Depends on the owners rather than the dog. Personally, I don't mind tenants having a big dog as it is a form of protection. And I swear that our bully has detered potential "visitors" to our house. 

For damage to property I'd put rabbits way higher on the "HELL NO" list than a pit bull. In fact, I find out you have a rabbit and it's a 7 day with cure notice going up. Rabbits are banned.

As an owner of a very lovable pitbull...I would not in a million years rent to one.  The amount of damage and wear she causes to our primary residence wold be completely unacceptable to a rental property. I only allow under 25 lbs dogs in my rentals. 

Medium logo lf re cire box white bboxRussell Brazil, Associate Broker w/ Long & Foster | [email protected] | (301) 893‑4635 | http://www.RussellBrazil.com | MD Agent # 648402, DC Agent # SP98375353, VA Agent # 0225219736, MA Agent # 9052346 | Podcast Guest on Show #192

I see you are from Maryland not sure where your property is located. Pit bulls are not allowed especially in PG County.

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