Thursday, October 14, 2010

Can I have Your Attention Please! Would All Potential Landlords Please Stand Up!

My latest endeavour is to find a new living space. Since my parameters are quite particular, I am finding the task a bit difficult. I need a house that is within my budget; that has access to bus lines and other important things like grocery stores; and a house that isn't about to fall down around me or stink of old cat urine. It seems I can find one or two of my criteria, but not all of them. There was one house that was in a great location, but smelled so badly of cat piss that the ten minutes it took me to wander around it, cost me 25 minutes of cat pee smell in my nose. Today I looked at a house that is actually in really good condition, with enough room and within my price range. I'm not entirely sure that it's completely accessible, so that is one thing I will have to look into further, but I'm not sure I will get the house even if I put my application in.
I always take Glacier with me when viewing houses. I really like to be upfront with people and let them know I have a guide dog. I don't know why, but not bringing him kind of feels like lying. So, as usual today, Glacier came along with me. Now, Glacier is a big guy, but he is well groomed and usually quite well behaved for a three-year-old labrador. He was especially good today when we were wandering from empty room to empty room feeling walls; checking electrical outlets; flushing toilets and all of the other things you do when investigating a potential living space.
When I first viewed the advertisement, it was stated that pets were conditional. That was fine with me, since Aria weighs no more than four pounds and is a very good little girl. I didn't think much of having Glacier or Roscoe for that matter, and the guy showing the place didn't mention anything about pets until we were nearing the end of the viewing. He mentioned something in passing about pets being conditional, but that Glacier seemed like a very well behaved guy. I barely noticed what he was saying as I had my head stuck in an empty closet examining its depth and width. When we made it back to the kitchen, he said that there was a pet deposit that was non-refundable and that he wasn't sure how much it was. I thought he was talking about Aria because I had just mentioned her, but it turned out he was discussing Glacier. At that moment, while I was processing what he had said, he stooped down and picked up Glacier's paw to inspect his claws to see if they were trimmed or not. I was so horrified that I didn't know what to say. Ironically enough, I just had Glacier's claws trimmed on Monday, so they were looking their best. He said that the "deposit" was non-refundable because dogs do damage and that he would have to check with his father about the exact cost.
I was still in "Jess is polite" mode and hardly registered what he had said, but as we got back in the car, I began to realise that he was intending to charge us a pet "deposit" for my guide dog. This is an issue for two reasons.
1. First and foremost, Glacier is not a pet. He is a "guide dog." The laws that apply to pets do not apply to service dogs. Landlords or other places of accommodation who try to charge a patron for a service dog, is committing a crime. The problem is, I can't prove that the pet "deposit" was being applied because of Glacier. He knew about Aria and he could state that it was because of the four pound miniature weiner dog that he was charging.
2. It's also a problem that he is calling a non-refundable charge a "deposit." Does e not know the meaning of the word "deposit?" I would say that the word "fee" is much more appropriate. Deposits you get back, fees you do not.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure that we won't get the house because of the dogs and we have no way of proving it. Discrimination is a funny thing. You have a feeling it's happening, but you usually can't prove it. I understand he wants to keep his property nice: it is an investment for him. That doesn't mean he shouldn't rent it to us because we have service dogs. Our dogs do not destroy things and they are both very quiet. We keep their claws trimmed down and just from the walking we do, they get worn down. I can't prove it, but I have a feeling that that house will go to someone else and it will have nothing to do with me being a good or bad tenant. It is because I have a service dog. The comments he made when I was leaving were vague, but they would suggest to me that the house was being rented to someone without a guide dog. From this, I guess I have learned that, Glacier just has to stay home. I don't want to do things this way, but in order to get a fair chance at renting a house, I will have to omit certain details. What he is doing is illegal and I have no recourse. It is frustrating and infuriating! So, no more Mrs. Nice Guy!

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