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Posts: 4
Reply with quote  #1 
I am advertising my rental and accepting tenant applications.  I had one person contact me who has 3 small dogs. I told her I would consider small hypoallergenic dogs. She came and looked at the house and filled out applications. I made it clear that there were about 5 other families looking at the house and I had not yet made a decision. I have not ruled them out, but there is another family who does not have pets and I felt that the other family seemed better. I don't want to be accused of discrimination for not selecting the first applicant; I have had appointments all weekend for showing the house, so the applicants know that there is competition.  However, the family with the dogs were the first to submit the signed applications, and I think they are expecting first priority.

My concern is whether I am required to select the first qualified applicant. However, since I am showing the house by appointment, it seems unreasonable not to look at the different tenant applications and select the best fit.  I had planned to have the final showing on Monday, check references on Tuesday and make a decision.

I am worried that the first applicant will accuse me of discrimination. I made it clear to them that I needed to go through all of the applications and rank them. I did not reveal my ranking process, but they are 1.) references and rental history 2.) income 3.) pets. However, if I said that I would consider their small dogs, would it create a legal problem for me to include pets as a criterion?

Am I obligated to rent to the first applicant if they are qualified (even if I have doubts), since I said that I would allow their dogs if they were approved? Then the other applicant who doesn't have a dog who is equally qualified, and who submitted their application this weekend (after the first person) might feel that they were unjustly denied if they see that an applicant with dogs was accepted, when I advertised "no pets".

I am not sure how to approach this, but I obviously feel better about the family with no pets. 

I am trying to be careful, but rentals are very hard to find, so pet friendly rentals are doubly hard to find, and now I am seeing that I probably should not have bent my "no pets" rule by giving an allowance.

Tenants are somewhat desperate in my area because of the supply problem. My biggest concern with this family is not their dog, but the attitude of the husband, because I sense he might be a bit pushy. That concerns me more than the dogs, but I can't say that to them.

Posts: 503
Reply with quote  #2 
I'm not a lawyer in California, which will be the best person to ask, but I don't think you should have any issues accepting the most qualified person who applied around the same time. I wouldn't even mention the dogs, I would just say you found a more qualified applicant. The fact that you advertised a no pets policy would help you a lot, but I still would just say you found a more qualified applicant and I wouldn't give any other detail. 
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