Special Report: Finding Pet Friendly Housing in the Northland

Landlords and Pet Owners Open Up Regarding Pet Friendly Rules and Regulations When it Comes to Renting in Duluth

DULUTH, Minn. – According to the American Pet Products Association, nearly 85 million families in the United States own a pet.

As more and more people are purchasing animals, many are also deeming it difficult to find their family a forever home.

Every year, thousands are descending on Duluth; human beings constantly on the move in today’s ever changing world.

“We have a much more mobile society,” said Barbara Montee, President of the Duluth Landlords Association.

“We know in the United States, 2/3 of American households have a companion animal living with them,” said Shawna Weaver, Humane Educator at Animal Allies Humane Society.

For families with four legged members, making a move into a rental property can be tough.

“Duluth is a relatively unfriendly city when it comes to pet friendly housing,” said Weaver. “It is really hard to see families being broken up because of this.”

Every year hundreds of surrendered animals show up at Animal Allies in Duluth.

“It’s really difficult on an animal to come into the shelter, have this transition time here and then have to be rehomed,” said Weaver.

Pets often forced to say goodbye when their owners move, now waiting for a new forever home.

“We see kids who really struggle and adults struggle too,” said Weaver.

Many landlords say it’s a touchy topic for pet owners looking to anchor down in the Northland.

“I did not allow pets because I grew up with; you only get a pet when you get a house,” said Montee. “Now that the market has changed there are many more people who might never aspire to own their own home.”

Montee says Duluth is most likely not as pet friendly as pet lovers would like it to be, but she believes it’s changing.

For the past 20 years, Montee has called the Northland home. After renting out properties for roughly 15 years, she recently decided in the past five years to relax on pet restrictions.

“Pets help people emotionally,” said Montee.

After a few minor mishaps, Montee now makes sure her pet policy is outlined in every contract her tenants sign.

“I encourage all landlords to have a pet policy even if they don’t allow pets,” said Montee.

“There can be noise, barking, whining, Soiling carpeting, chewing woodwork,” said duplex owner Denette Lynch.

Lynch is a dog lover and also happens to own a rentable duplex.

“When you own rental property there’s a risk of damage whether it’s children, adults or pets,” said Lynch.

Since 1991 Lynch has been a landlord. It wasn’t until the past five years she decided dogs and cats could also move in.

“The greatest advantage is that I’ve had no turnover,” said Lynch. “People are so happy to have property that allows pets that they want to stay.”

Right now she doesn’t charge a deposit or monthly fee for four legged friends, but Lynch does believe in the future she could start adding fees.

“If I was to do it again I would have an additional, refundable pet deposit,” said Lynch. “If it’s not refundable, it doesn’t give people the desire or the motivation to keep the place up.”

For residents at the recently built Endi apartments in Duluth, pets are treated just like people.

“Our residents like living here at Endi because we are very pet friendly,” said Property Manager Peggy Walsh. “We have our pet salon and our dog run.”

Walsh says when she first moved to Duluth she and her pet found it difficult to find housing.

“It’s exciting and fun to see the pets at our complex,” said Walsh.

A daily dose of doggy cuteness with a price tag attached.

Residents at Endi pay a $200 dollar refundable pet deposit plus $40 dollars per month to have a dog and $30 dollars per month to have a cat. Guests can also pick up the Community Bark, a pet-friendly newsletter, four times a year.

“Pet owners usually understand that owning a pet comes with some financial responsibilities as well,” said Walsh.

A financial obligation some renters see as way too steep.

Kaitlynn Mall berg now lives in Duluth but it was difficult to be able to do so.

“We had to look at multiple apartments before we found one and just gave in with making it work,” said Mallberg. “We probably looked at about seven other facilities before we found this one.”

She and her family weren’t just being picky when it came to finding a place to live.

“The apartments were just either disgusting or it was just overpriced for what it’s worth,” said Mallberg.

She now pays $900 dollars a month for a two bedroom, one bathroom. Her monthly rent would skyrocket if it weren’t for one major medical loophole many take advantage of.

“They can’t really make you pay for the rent if it’s an emotional support animal,” said Mallberg.

One dog, two cats and a tankful of fish now reside alongside Mallberg for free. Her dog Lucy, as comfortable as can be.

“The adults and the humans living in the house can most definitely cause more damage than an animal could,” said Mallberg.

Mallberg says without a written note from the doctor and proper certification, she’d pay a $1,500 dollar refundable deposit, plus $25 dollars per animal every month.

“In Duluth it’s definitely a struggle,” said Mallberg.

It’s why organizations like Animal Allies are looking to advocate. Weaver believes it’s important to sit down and have a conversation with your landlord. From there, provide a pet resume upon arrival.

“This pet resume should include their veterinarian, the phone number, emergency contact information for anytime the property renter may be gone for the day or the weekend,” said Weaver.

Extra information which could help facilitate a fair trade between landlords and tenants.

“I think people value a place that is pet friendly because if they lose it, if they abuse the privilege of having their pet in that apartment and they get evicted or need to leave, they have to find another place,” said Lynch.

If you’re looking for pet friendly housing in the Duluth area, Animal Allies has a link set up on their website with a list of options.

Staff at Animal Allies say it’s important for more people to advocate and join in on the discussion if they want to eliminate pet predicaments in the Northland.

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