AKA: Suzanne naively assumed that a young, hardworking, clean, non-smoking, well-referenced married couple could find a decent place to live within a reasonable commute with a minimum of effort.
It's moving time in my household. When internet and local listings came up short, we took a Sunday and literally drove through every residential area in 6 small-to-medium-sized rural towns with a combined population of about 40,000 people looking for For Rent signs.
There were 20 places available. If you had any pets then there were 5 available. If one of your pets was a dog over 20 lbs, there were 3 places available. And if you had a dog of any size that looked like its pedigree contained pit bull, Rottweiler, or chow, then the number of available rentals was zero.
I'll come back to breed bias later. First, about that pet bias:
When we were applying for one of the apartments, I expressed to the manager how happy I was to find a place where I could bring my pet. She said hers was the only apartment complex in the area that allowed "large" dogs (Zelda is 33 lbs). "And it's silly," she said, "in all the years I've done this job, small dogs cause more damage than big ones." She laughed, "and don't even get me started on what children can do to a place."
Bingo. My opinion is now officially validated by someone in the business.
Pet Connection had a good article about this a while back. http://www.petconnection.com/blog/2007/04/30/looking-for-a-rental-your-dog-better-be-good-and-probably-small/
I think pet bias and breed bias from landlords (and insurance companies) stem from the same thing. There's certainly no data that says dogs of a certain breed or size cause more damage or are more dangerous than others or are more destructive to property than other factors (like kids). I'm not disputing a home owner's right to set these restrictions, but I do dispute the logic behind them.
The most expensive damage done to my current rental was caused by my husband. The wear-and-tear caused by my pets pales in comparison. Yet nowhere on the rental applications did it ask if you owned a careless husband.
One of the other apartments I called told me, "we technically don't allow pets, but all you need to do is get a note from a doctor that you need your dog as a companion and you can keep it. Any doctor around here will do that for you, it's no big deal."
If I was in a position to choose between hmm, bending the law, and losing a beloved pet, I wouldn't think twice. And the result is the same as if the place had just allowed the dog in the first place. I don't think this is a situation that's useful for anyone. Not the animals, or the renters, or the property owners.
In the end, if we wanted to live in a place that wasn't too small and/or falling down around us, and allowed all our pets without any "fudging" on the application, there was only one rental to choose from. It was (you guessed it) the most expensive and barely in our price range.
This is yet another reason why I cannot wait to buy a house.