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How to find pet-friendly rental properties

Plenty of landlords will allow your furry friend, but big dogs may require more research.

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Using a realtor or online tools can help you narrow down pet-friendly places to live. But watch out for breed bans, size restrictions and units that don’t allow puppies.

How to find a pet-friendly apartment

If you’re hunting for a pet-friendly property, there are several avenues that can help you find the right fit.

If you’re searching online, sites like Trulia, and Craigslist let you narrow down exactly what you’re looking for in a property, and you can filter out any units that aren’t dog- or cat-friendly.

If you’re using a realtor to find an apartment, let them know up front that you’re only interested in pet-friendly units, and let them know how many and what kind of pets you have.

Why do some landlords not allow pets?

Simply mention the word “pet” and some landlords will run a mile — but why are they so hesitant to let you keep your pet in your rental property?

Landlords worry that pets will damage a property, leave odors and generally decrease the property value over time. There’s also the potential for a constantly barking dog or screeching cockatoo to drive the neighbors crazy, resulting in hassle for the landlord and the property manager.

But there can be several reasons a landlord would want to make their rental pet-friendly. It’s common for pet-friendly units to charge a bit more for rent, and pet owners are often loyal long-term tenants who stick around longer than other tenants. And many pets don’t cause more damage to a rental unit than the average pet deposit.

Is it difficult to rent with pets?

Finding a pet-friendly rental apartment can be problematic for a few reasons: there’s less space, less privacy and more rules compared to owning a home. You’ll often pay more in pet fees, pet rent or deposit money too.

Unfortunately, many condo developments simply impose a “no pets” rule. However, as demand for pet-friendly rental properties grows, attitudes towards keeping pets in apartments are starting to change. There are even entire apartment complexes specially designated as pet-friendly.

If you’re looking for a pet-friendly apartment, check out your landlord’s rules about pets before deciding whether or not it’s worth applying for tenancy.

Tips to get your pet approved for a rental property

When you’re applying for a rental property with your pet, it’s important to go the extra mile to show that your pet won’t cause any problems. If you can prove that you’re a responsible and thoughtful pet owner, the chances of finding a flexible landlord are greatly enhanced.

If you have your heart set on a property but the landlord is on the fence about allowing pets, increase your odds by providing extra info about your pet. Pet owners often do some or all of these steps to prove their pets are good tenants.

  • Getting pet character references. People need to provide references before they receive approval to rent a property, so why shouldn’t the same be expected of our pets? The property manager will need to feel confident that there will be no risk attached to letting you keep a pet, so ask previous landlords, your dog trainer and even your vet to provide character references for your pet.
  • Keeping records. Is your pet microchipped, spayed or neutered and fully up to date with the necessary vaccinations? Is he protected against fleas, worms and other parasites? Has your dog graduated from obedience school? Providing documentation that proves this will also help your landlord feel comfortable that your pet won’t cause any problems. You may even want to put together a pet resume that shows off all of your pet’s best features.
  • Providing cleaning commitments. To overcome your landlord’s fears about pets being dirty, maybe you can reach an agreement for the cleaning tasks you will perform when you vacate the property. You’ll already need to clean the property to an acceptable state before you leave, but promising to get the carpets professionally cleaned and deodorized might put your landlord’s mind at ease.
  • Mentioning special circumstances. A landlord may also be more lenient towards keeping pets if there are special circumstances involved; for example, if the pet is a companion animal for an autistic child or a veteran.
  • Doing your research. Try to find out whether any other renters or owners in the same apartment block are allowed to keep a pet, as this can be used to strengthen your case.
  • Negotiating with your landlord. Consider negotiating an agreement whereby the landlord can regularly come and inspect the property to ensure it’s in good condition. Signing an agreement to pay for any damage caused by the pet can also help.

Tips for renting with pets

Ensure a hassle-free experience when renting with pets by considering a few pieces of advice.

  • Check for pet restrictions. Some landlords will claim to be pet friendly, but will only allow small, adult dogs of certain breeds. Most set a limit of one or two pets. Check for any restrictions before assuming your pup will be allowed.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask. Don’t be put off by previous negative experiences with landlords — it can’t hurt to ask your current landlord about the possibility of getting a pet. You never know, your landlord might be an animal lover themselves.
  • Choose the right property. You need to remember your pet’s best interests when choosing a property, not just your own. For example, expecting to keep a working dog breed like an Aussie cooped up in a studio apartment all day isn’t ideal.
  • Ask for a trial period. If the landlord or property manager isn’t completely sold on the idea of letting you keep a pet, ask if they’d consider a trial period so you get a chance to prove that your pet won’t cause any problems.
  • Don’t lie. Trying to go behind your landlord’s back and hide the fact that you’re keeping a pet is a recipe for disaster. If you’re found to be breaking the terms of your lease, the property owner is well within their rights to show you the door.
  • Fix any damage. If something goes wrong and your pet does cause damage to the property, it’s better to be proactive rather than try to hide anything from your landlord or property manager. Report the damage immediately and outline the steps you are taking to remedy/repair it.
  • Prevent problems. If your dog barks at all hours of the day and night or is constantly digging in the yard, you run the risk of having complaints made against you that’ll get back to your landlord. Get on top of any problems before they arise — for example, give your dog plenty of exercise and mental stimulation to prevent boredom.

What rights do pet owners have in rentals?

  • If the landlord legally accesses the property when you’re not there and your pet escapes or is harmed, you may be entitled to compensation.
  • It is illegal for your landlord to deny assistance animals.
  • Don’t sign a lease that says no pets are allowed if you made a verbal contract that your pet is an exception. Request a lease that states the deal in writing.
  • You don’t have to give up your pet because your landlord says so, unless the details of when this is allowed in your contract. Talk to a lawyer if your landlord changes your rental agreement to suddenly ban pets. You might be permitted to keep your pets until you sign a new contract.

What rights do landlords have?

  • Landlords can deny housing pets on their rental property. Disallowing pets doesn’t violate anti-discrimination laws. If pets are restricted, your landlord should include the restriction in your rental agreement.
  • Depending on your state, your landlord may charge a nonrefundable pet fee or pet rent if they do allow pets. The fee is meant to cover repairs or cleaning that may be needed when you move out.
  • Keeping a pet that makes excessive noise, such as a barking dog, could cause you to breach your tenancy agreement.

How to make a pet resume

There’s a widely held misconception among landlords that tenants with pets equals damage to a rental property, so pet owners are facing an uphill battle right from the get-go. One valuable weapon you can use in this battle is a pet resume, which is designed to show your pet off in the best possible light. Not only can it eliminate any concerns about your pet’s behavior or health, but it can also give a landlord confidence in your ability to keep the property clean and in immaculate condition.

Details you might want to include are:

  • Your pet’s name and a photo
  • Your pet’s breed and age
  • Information about your pet’s temperament
  • How long you have owned your pet
  • Health information, for example that your pet is fully up to date with vaccinations, microchipped and fixed
  • Details of how often you treat your pet for parasites such as fleas and worms
  • Pet character references from previous property managers or even your vet

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Bottom line

If you have a pet, take some time to find a pet-friendly landlord before signing a lease. And once you’ve found the perfect place, protect yourself and your landlord by getting a renters insurance policy that protects you against liability if your pet intentionally or accidentally hurts someone on the property.

Frequently asked questions about pets in rentals

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