I was reading some rental ads today and noticed how specific and restrictive some of them are; for example:
“Landlord would prefer a professional couple or a family with one child. Please no pets allowed.”
“Professionals only please, sorry no pets and no children.”
Is that even legal? I remember many years ago reading with shock a rental ad in the paper that specified “no Jamaicans”. Thankfully, that racist ad has not appeared again (that I am aware) but isn’t this just a watered-down variation of another discriminatory practice? Do tenants have no rights? Or very little?
Auntie’s answer: I’ve seen ads like the ones you described as well, though not any referring to barring a specific nationality, I’m glad to say. When it comes to prohibiting pets and children, however, I believe landlords can do that. I sought advice from a local realtor and did some checking on my own and could find nothing that prevents a landlord from excluding people from renting their property for various reasons.
The two most common exclusions seem to be for pets and kids. The Residential Tenancies Law (2009), which has yet to be enacted, by the way (don’t get me started) refers to this situation, so there clearly was consensus it needed to be addressed. Section 36 (4) says: “Where the tenancy agreement allows the tenant to keep a certain number or type of pet on the premises the tenant shall not keep more than that number or any other type of pet on the premises at any time during the tenancy except with the prior written consent of the landlord.”
My take is that if the law mentions a lease that says a pet is allowed then it can also say that a pet is not allowed.
The realtor I spoke to noted that “for as long as I have been renting properties, landlords have always imposed restrictions on who they will and will not take as tenants”. He added that these restrictions may be imposed through strata by-laws, so not limited to one landlord and one premise. If it is contained in the by-laws, then the homeowner is obligated to impose that restriction on a tenant.
Another point about these by-laws is that they usually provide for the “quiet and peaceful enjoyment” of the property, which could lead a landlord to avoiding tenants who like to party or who have particularly noisy dogs. How the landlord would know this ahead of time is another story.
The realtor put it this way: “I believe that anybody investing in rental properties should have a right to protect their investment and decide to whom they will rent and to whom they will not.”
Property-management companies in Cayman also note there are landlords who do not want to rent to tenants with pets and children, though sometimes you can negotiate around that by paying an additional security deposit. But the landlord could also insist those funds are not refundable in the case of four-legged residents because of the extra cleaning required for the premises once your pet and you move on.
The document mentioned in this column can be found on the CNS Library
Category: Ask Auntie