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home : columns : dear harriette June 25, 2021

4/26/2021 8:12:00 AM
Pet owner debates hiding animals from landlord

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have two dogs and a cat. I know that my life would be much easier if I sold my pets, but I can't bring myself to do so. I love my pets as if they're my children.

Recently, my landlord told me that I can either get rid of one of my animals or pay an extra monthly fee of $75. I'm struggling to pay rent as it is. Should I continue to hide my animals from my landlord and risk being evicted? Selling them would be an absolute last resort for me. -- Pet Lover

DEAR PET LOVER: If you do not want to sell or rehome one of your pets, start investigating to see if you have any rights in this situation. First, check your lease. Make sure that there is a legally binding clause that indicates the pet policy. Read it carefully to ensure that your landlord has the right to charge you extra for your pets. If the policy is unclear, do your best to fight for your animals. Promise to keep them under your control at all times and to keep your place tidy.

If you have no rights, your next recourse may be to move. Look around for affordable apartments with welcoming pet policies. Moving can be a drag, but it may be the only way to keep your babies.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I keep hearing rumors from the other tenants in my apartment building about my landlord being a racist. My landlord is an older white gentleman, and the other tenants in my building are mostly white as well. I am a young black woman, and I don't take kindly to racism. My landlord is otherwise pretty mild-mannered, but lately I have noticed the microaggressive comments. I've locked in for a six-month lease, but that was before I realized that I'm renting from a racist. What do I do? -- Want My Money Back

DEAR WANT MY MONEY BACK: If your landlord is doing or saying things that are negatively impacting you, document everything. If possible, capture video of him when he makes racist comments. You will need a lot of evidence to potentially get out of your lease. If others are also offended by his comments, as you suggest, ask them to join you in recording your landlord's behavior and lodging a formal complaint against him. You may gain more traction by working together.

Contact a lawyer, and discuss the matter. Bring all documentation that illustrates your allegations. Sadly, many people make racist comments without repercussion.

Hopefully you will be able to prove that you are living with unnecessary distress and need to break your lease. Because you are on a short-term lease anyway, start looking for new housing now. Six months will go by in a blink, and you don't want to end up with nowhere to live as you fight this battle.

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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