The best pet-friendly apartment communities do more than just allow pets. They welcome animals, and the community is friendly towards them. Nearby areas include important pet-related services you need.
This guide tells you what you need to know to find the best new home for you and your furry roommate.
When using the Apartment Guide website to find an apartment, you can search by city, state, neighborhood, apartment community or zip code. To view rental properties that allow pets, make sure you select pet-friendly from the amenity list. Once you’re in touch with an individual landlord or apartment complex, tell them you have a pet and are looking for an apartment with pet-friendly amenities.
Note: Pet-friendly doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing to all apartment communities. Each complex may have different expectations about what they expect from pet owners. Make sure you ask specifics about whether your pet will be allowed and what the rules will be. Many apartment communities have weight limits and breed restrictions, and many do not accept cats and other kinds of pets. Ferrets, birds, fish, rabbits, hamsters, snakes and other reptiles are the kinds of pets you’ll need to ask about specifically.
When you call to ask if your pet is allowed in apartments, ask about the amenities that are most important for your pet. For dogs, you may find dog-walking stations with free poop bags, pet washing stations and dog parks on the ground or on the roof. Having on-property or nearby green space is also important. Greenspace can be as simple as a nearby patch of grass or large field. For single-family home rentals, a fenced-in lawn is ideal.
For cats, you may want to consider mantles and shelves they can jump on or window seats for them to hang out on while you’re gone. Your cat may have a preference for carpet over hardwood floors. Consider what your cat likes and dislikes in your current place before choosing your next apartment.
For any kind of pet, you’ll also want to take into consideration the size of the property, layout of rooms, ease of cleaning, natural lighting, window orientation, pet hazards or dangerous areas, location of neighbors and other on-site or close-by amenities. Some multifamily apartment communities offer pet boarding and grooming services.
A pet’s community can stretch a mile or two. For dogs, parks offer a convenient place to run and play. Many art galleries and restaurants with outdoor patio seating allow your dog to hang out with you. And, of course, sidewalks are a critical amenity for taking your pooch for a stroll.
Dogs, cats and other pets need pet stores that sell their favorite food, treats and toys. While it may be easy to order your dog or cat’s regular pet food online, you may run out at some point. If you do, your pet could get sick if you switch foods. Living near a pet store that has your food of choice can alleviate a big worry for pet owners.
You’ll also need a good groomer and veterinarians you trust. When you call apartments, check to see if these services are nearby. It also never hurts to read online apartment reviews, including those on Apartment Guide, Rent and Yelp.
If at all possible, visit the neighborhood at least once, preferably during the day when it’s light out, to see what it looks like and whether it feels right for you and your pet.
There are several common fees associated with having pets in apartments: Security deposits, pet fees and pet rent.
Security deposits can vary from $100 to $500 and perhaps even more, depending on where you live and the size and type of your pet. The amount of the deposit is completely up to the landlord’s discretion. In some cases, you could pay a $100 deposit with a Pit Bull and at another apartment complex, you could pay a $500 deposit to have a cockatiel.
Deposits are generally at least partially refundable. Just be wary that when someone charges a pet deposit, they’re looking for typical damage an animal might make like cat scratches or carpet stained from dog pee. To avoid these charges, make sure your cat has scratching posts and your dog is walked every few hours or crated when you aren’t home.
The non-refundable fees are pet rent and pet fees. Pet fees are generally an amount charged once or annually. They can be as high as security deposits. Pet rent is an extra monthly charge, generally in the $50 to $100 per month range tacked on to your existing rent. If you are paying pet rent or pet fees, it’s a good idea to make sure your apartment has amenities such as green space or dog walking stations to make it worth it.
As a pet owner, you should also take into account the hidden costs of renting with your four-legged friend. Beyond fees the apartment itself charges, check the costs of local dog walkers and rental insurance policies that include pet liability in case someone sues you for something your pet does. When you put together your rent budget, be sure to include costs of food, toys and vet care in your monthly overhead.
In some circumstances, you may want to bring a pet into an apartment you’re already renting. Ask your landlord or property management office about the rules for the pet you would like to have.
For instance, you may want a large dog and will need a community that will allow one. Be prepared to write a pet letter introducing your new friend and asking for permission beforehand.
Use this helpful sample letter to request a pet in your existing apartment.
Unless you have a pet monkey, your furry roommate probably doesn’t have opposable thumbs to help with the cleanup process. Before moving day arrives, look around for pet wear and tear and stains. Get a good product for pet messes that can be cleaned and disinfected. If there are any wall holes from cat scratching get triangle tubes of caulk in the correct color from a home improvement store. Spending a few dollars in repairs and cleanup can help you get hundreds of dollars in deposits back.
Tip: Pets often get anxiety after a move, which may cause them to chew up baseboards and other wooden finishings in an apartment. When you move into your new apartment, spray the baseboard with bitter spray to prevent this. This will save you a lot of money when it comes time to move out.
Most rental properties will have rules and regulations specific to the apartment unit itself. Here are a few of the most common:
However, many dogs, especially those from rescue shelters, are mixed breeds. Your dog could simply look like one of the restricted breeds and not be allowed. If the complex you want to live in has this restriction, consider the presentation of your dog and how you announce him or her. For instance, having a good response to simple commands such as “Sit” goes a long way. Offer a visit with your dog based on the landlord’s schedule.
The rules at one apartment complex likely won't be the same as rules at another. Make sure you confirm all of the regulations before moving in.
Noise complaints and violations can lead to both you and your pet getting evicted if they happen repeatedly. It’s a good idea to remind yourself that you and your pet are part of a community. Your neighbors want a relatively quiet place to live. Introduce yourself and your dog to them. They are less likely to complain if they know you.
Ask about what constitutes a noise violation. For instance, a neighbor might say your dog was barking all day, but the dog may have only barked for a few minutes. The landlord may dismiss the complaint if it’s invalid based on the rules. Make sure you know the policy for how the property verifies complaints before they turn into violations. Several violations can turn into fines or evictions.
The possibility of violations is one of the biggest reasons pets should be introduced to the property manager. Landlords are less likely to believe a resident if they have personal experience with your pet.
Easy ways to reduce noise from your dog:
In addition to noise violations, failure to clean up after your pets in public spaces can cause both violations and bad relations with neighbors. Carry poop bags with you. If you don’t have one, go inside your apartment and return to pick it up as promptly as possible.
Cats and birds can also be introduced. Pay attention to your pet’s needs, like feeding your cat quickly if it’s meowing at mealtime.
Tip: When searching for an apartment, take note of what material the building is constructed of. Concrete and steel frame buildings are much better at insulating noise between apartment units. Sound will carry more loudly across walls in wooden framed buildings.
Introducing your pet to a landlord can essentially be an audition, and you may not get a second chance to make the right impression. Here are some quick tips for making the most of it:
It probably goes without saying, but your landlord will also be judging you on how you interact with your pet. Your dog or cat might be nervous by a new person or environment, so remember to be patient and calm to show that you are maintaining control over your pet at all times.
Steven Patzer, up and coming landlord, rents a small apartment building in Brooklyn, NY. His pet policy is geared towards how it affects other tenants.
“I’m open to any breed staying in my rental homes," says Patzer. “I’m more concerned that they won't cause a disturbance for other tenants.”
When presenting your pet:
One of the most important parts of pet ownership is training your pet to behave well in most situations. Dogs and cats should have some basic behavioral training. A dog should be able to listen to commands for both sit and stay. Cat behavior is more about not scratching or bolting outside. Generally, landlords want to know your cat will be happy living indoors.
There's a difference between places that are pet accepting and pet welcoming. Ask enough questions that you know the community will be happy to have both you and your pet. Consider the neighborhood beyond the walls of your complex or building, too.
The apartment may be considered pet-friendly, and you may love the layout. But will it functionally work well for you and your pet? For example, where will you place the kitty litter? Does the unit have a dangerous balcony from which a pet might accidentally jump? Where will your pet sleep? These are just a few super important questions to consider before renting.
It can’t be emphasized enough to respond quickly to complaints as they happen. Behavior that is fixed when it needs to be makes you a positive member of the community who your landlord and your neighbors value.
Unfortunately, your pets that have been welcome otherwise may not be if you sneak them in. Inform your landlord of the arrival of your furry family members and request a meet and greet if possible.
Dogs that aren’t walked enough may have accidents indoors or tear up furniture. While your cats may not need to go outside, they do need attention. Make sure they have plenty to do while you're gone so that they don’t claw furniture or hardwood floors.
The worst offense a dog owner can commit in a community environment is to not clean up after their pet. Always pick up poop, wipe down doggy drool and other pet waste as much as possible and try to be respectful of any fur shedding in community spaces.
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