There’s good news and bad news when it comes to renting with pets. The bad news is: while many landlords will allow you to have fish, frogs and turtles without batting an eye, they are more likely to say no to your furry pets.
The good news is: there are many pet-friendly apartments that offer more generous accommodations, and simply learning a few “tried and true” strategies of your own, will set you on your way to finding your dream rental. 55% of landlords allow pets, so the odds are slightly in your favor.
We’ve put together a list of nine of the most important things you need to know about renting with pets.
You might find the perfect apartment and then stumble upon the landlord’s “no pets policy.” You might even consider moving in with man’s best friend without disclosing his presence to the landlord. Not recommended!
Your life will be much easier if you apply for rented pads where pets are welcomed, and this is usually plainly stated in the property listing. Not disclosing your pet to the landlord where a “no pet policy” exists constitutes a breach of contract and can result in eviction.
While searching for a pet friendly apartment is the easiest way to go, some landlords are fairly lenient and are willing to negotiate on their policy. Address the landlord’s concerns about pets with empathy and explain how you plan to prevent common pet-related issues, such as: damage to property, infestations, like fleas and ticks, and behavioral disturbances, including incessant howling. Ultimately, you want to portray your pet in the best light as an another tenant in the unit.
Most landlords want to see references before they agree to rent an apartment. Landlords want to know in advance that a prospective renter is a good risk, and the same thing goes for his or her pet. Showing up with a reference letter or two from your current landlord or neighbor may help inspire confidence.
Ease the mind of your landlord by preparing a pet resume. This document can contain any information that will show your pet in the best possible light. Include the letter of reference from your current or previous landlord as well as proof of spaying or neutering. Information proving that your pet is up to date on their vaccinations and flea/heartworm control. If you have a dog who has been to obedience school, documentation of that may help as well.
Likewise, it may help your cause to provide a copy of your plan on dealing with problems, such as fleas or worms.
Be aware that a pet deposit and a pet fee are two very different things. A pet deposit will be part of your security deposit and may be returned at the end of your lease. A pet fee is non-refundable. It may be paid up-front all at once or paid monthly as part of a higher rental rate. The landlord holds these extra fees in reserve to help defray the costs of any damages your pet may cause.
Likewise, these fees can be applied to any extra cleaning your apartment needs after you move out. The good news is pet deposits are typically refundable, so if your pet is a model tenant, you can get your money back after you move out. If a landlord is on the fence about accepting you and your pet as a package deal, offering a pet deposit may tip negotiations in your favor.
If a landlord is unsure about accepting your pet, arranging a “meet and greet” may help. Taking a pet to meet your prospective landlord allows him or her to see firsthand how well-behaved, clean, and well-groomed your pet is. However, be sure to ask before you take Fido along with you. This is especially useful if you are coming up against breed restrictions in your apartment search.
Many tenants purchase renter’s insurance to provide financial protection against damage to personal property, burglary and injury. It may also include liability protection that covers you in the event that your pet injures someone. Some landlords may insist that you to purchase renter’s insurance to satisfy guidelines written in the rental contract.
If your landlord agrees to renting to you and your pet, make sure you get it in writing. The costs of your pet deposit and any pet fees should also be spelled out in your lease. Make sure you review it carefully and have your landlord initial any changes to the text in the lease at the time of signing. After they are signed by both parties, leases are contracts and cannot be changed without both you and your landlord agreeing. If you get an additional pet or your pet changes, you should make sure your landlord is aware and approves of it. Get these approved changes in writing as well.
Once your landlord has approved your pet and your lease has been signed, make sure the landlord never has any reason to regret it. If you have a dog, make sure Fido doesn’t bark or whine while you’re away and prevent any unwanted chewing. If you have a cat, make sure to prevent destructive scratching or any litter box issues.
Finding a pet-friendly apartment for your cat or dog may require a bit more work, but with a little effort, you’re sure to find new digs for you and your furry friend. The key is to look for rentals specifically advertised as pet-friendly, and show up prepared to demonstrate that both you and your pet are sure bets. For rentals that aren’t advertised as pet friendly, be prepared to negotiate with landlords.