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Why some landlords don’t allow pets

January 25, 2011
By Leonard Flath

After reading the letter to the editor concerning Saranac Lake landlords' unwillingness to rent to people with pets, I feel compelled to respond with one landlord's experiences.

I have owned apartments in Saranac Lake for most of the past 28 years. I have always advertised for no smokers and no pets. I believe I was the first (or one of the first) to say "no smokers." Other people told me at the time that I "couldn't do that," but did it anyway because of the mess of nicotine stains on walls and woodwork to be cleaned, to say nothing of the stink of it all.

I did relent on the pet issue once when I owned the Lent Cottage at what was then 18 Franklin Ave. This prospective tenant was on disability so was home all the time to care for a pet, and her cats were older, trained, etc. and "were not destructive." I received no additional security deposit, and when she moved out, I found that the cats had used a door casing as a scratching post - this in a building built in 1908, so impossible to match moldings. No amount of security deposit would cover the replacement expense.

Four years ago, I bought a three-unit on Marshall Street. One of the tenants had an ugly dog that was secured with a trace chain when outside and was always muzzled, even inside, plus having two or three cats (and was a heavy smoker). I told her she had to get rid of the dog or move out herself. She got rid of the dog, but not the cats. Eventually I had to force her out for non-payment of rent. When she had had plenty of time to get out, I went to change the locks on the doors and found that she had left two cats in the apartment with no sign of food or water (except for an open toilet) and no evidence anyone had been in the apartment in at least two weeks. The cats were starving; I contacted the Humane Society to get the cats and spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to clean the mess to re-rent. There was cat feces from one end of the large apartment to the other, in places 2 inches deep; carpets in the living room and dining room were drenched in urine; the bathroom floor had to be torn up and new underlayment installed before new floor covering could be put down; some hardwood flooring was so stained that it can never be restored. It has been 18 months since she moved out, and I don't know if the smell will ever totally dissipate.

And this was from someone who is/was a certified nurse assistant at AMC. Do you want her caring for you or your family?

In another apartment in that building, another tenant living there when I bought the property had a large, unfriendly dog. There, doors and casings were scratched nearly through the full depth of the wood. Again, with a house built nearly 100 years ago with door sizes no longer standard, how much security deposit would be required to repair and replace destroyed property?

It has always seemed to me that, at least in Saranac Lake, everyone living in so much as a furnished room feels some God-given right to have the biggest, ugliest dog possible along with the right to let the dog urinate and defecate wherever and leave for someone else to step in and clean up. I have always believed that if you have no place for a dog to do toilet on your own property, you have no business owning a dog. And then people looking for an apartment wonder why there are so many apartments that are little more than slums.

I, for one, and I know of others who do the same, repaired and rehabilitated many apartments with new wiring, plumbing, kitchens and baths and am not happy to have those efforts destroyed. I am sure there are many others who feel the same.


Leonard Flath lives in Lansingburgh.



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