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Pet restrictions in rental properties

Alaskan Malamute Pup photo via


As spring moves into full gear in Southern Maryland, potential renters and their pets scramble to secure leases before hot weather complicates things. However, due to pet and breed restrictions from cities, companies and insurance agencies, some folks find it hard to settle into a property that allows their furry family member.

While Maryland has made strides in restricting breed profiling from insurance companies, landlords still maintain the right to prohibit types of dogs, or pets in general from inhabiting a rental property. (Guide dogs are not considered pets). The argument that certain dog breeds have a “propensity toward violent behavior” dictates which breeds are “blacklisted”, so additionally, municipalities across the nation have implemented laws restricting many of these dogs:

  1. Pit Bull Terriers
  2. Staffordshire Terriers
  3. Rottweilers
  4. Dobermans
  5. German/Australian Shepherds
  6. Presa Canarios
  7. Chow Chows
  8. Akitas
  9. Mastiffs
  10. Cane Corsos
  11. Great Danes
  12. Alaskan Malamutes
  13. Siberian Huskies
  14. Wolf Hybrids
  15. Any mix of stated breeds

Restricted breed lists can be slightly different, and in total there are about 35 dog breeds that are banned in Maryland municipalities right now. Renters who otherwise qualify for properties find themselves having to look elsewhere when dream rentals prohibit them from moving in with a dog that may have been part of the family for many years.

Sadly, public fear, slanted media coverage and insurance-deemed liability issues have created these lists that tend to lump together similar looking dogs into a broad, discriminatory category, despite the fact that dogs are individuals, and like humans, are products of both their nature and nurturing. The fact that dog bite-related claims accounted for over 1/3 of all homeowners insurance liability claims paid out in 2013 provides understanding of possible risk, but a better calculation of risk lies in the pet owner’s ability to responsibly raise their pooch.
In Michigan pet owners and activists are working to erase breed profiling from state legislation, namely in a campaign to “Make Michigan Next” in line to end breed discrimination and enforce responsible pet ownership. The size or breed of a dog in itself does not indicate how it will behave, and too many wonderful dogs disprove the idea that any one breed is wholly dangerous. Despite this, renters and homeowners alike should take pet restrictions into consideration when looking for a rental property, and learn about breed restrictions in any new city you are looking to rent/purchase property.

We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.

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