The terms pets allowed and pet-friendly seem pretty similar. In fact, as a renter, you may interpret either one as meaning your pet is welcome in your apartment. Unfortunately, they don't mean the same thing, which is why it's important to understand the differences.
According to the study, Companion Renters and Pet-Friendly Housing in the U.S. by FirePaw, 53 percent of rental units accept cats while only 37 percent allow dogs.
If an apartment building lets you live with your pet, it's a Pets Allowed place. Any apartments that let you live with your pet and offer extra pet-centric amenities are pet-friendly. In either case, there's no guarantee your pet will get approved.
Navigating either pet policy isn't always easy, but these tips for approaching and living in either a pet-friendly apartment or one with pets allowed can help.
Now that you know pet-friendly and pets allowed aren't the same, the next question is, “What is pet-friendly?"
The definition may feel unclear to you since it's not a straightforward, all clear to bring your pet with you. “When you see the words 'Pet-Friendly or Dog-Friendly,' it's not a slam dunk that you can rent at this property. It means the landlord is open to pets, but you may have to meet their specific criteria," says Dori Einhorn from Einhorn Insurance Agency.
Your property manager may have limits on the number of pets you can own, or what types of pets are welcome. This is usually based on personal preference stemming from the concern of how much damage pets may cause while living in the apartment.
The best approach when tackling a hesitant property owner of a pet-friendly apartment is to let them get to know your pet. Their hesitation comes from generalities about certain animals, so you have to demonstrate why your dog or cat is different. Sell your pet to your prospective property manager.
When meeting your property manager at a pet-friendly apartment, make sure you're prepared to handle pet-related questions. You should also bring a copy of your pet's health records to show they're up-to-date on all their shots and have gotten fixed. If you have a dog that completed obedience training, bring that documentation, as well. Questions you might get asked about your pet include:
The interview may get more detailed, so it's a good idea to have plans in place for who will care for your pet if you travel or are gone for long periods during the day, in case you're asked about these situations.
If all goes well during the interview, set up a time for the property owner to meet your pet. If there are any lingering concerns about allowing your pet into the apartment, an in-person meeting can help assuage them.
If a pre-meeting isn't possible, but the property owner has given the OK for your pet, offer to make time for them to meet shortly after you move into the apartment.
The main reason to put so much effort into getting into a pet-friendly apartment is the additional amenities often available in these buildings. Because the building itself wants to establish an environment that's inviting for both humans and pets, you may get access to a little more on-site, including:
The building may also have a pet-friendly location, with proximity to a dog park or dog run.
While there may not be as much red tape to cut through for apartments that allow pets, you most likely won't find the pet-friendly amenities. There may also be stricter expectations for pet behavior and less tolerance for things like loud barking or rowdy pets. If you're moving into a pets-allowed apartment, make sure you maintain a good pet-owner reputation.
Many of the rules you'll have to follow as a pet owner in an apartment that has a pets-allowed policy get spelled out in a pet agreement contract. These can get extremely detailed but will focus on restrictions for pet ownership as well as acceptable behavior in common areas.
The document can include limits to how many pets you can have, the property manager's right to verify what pets are living with you and leash rules. The contract will also have language about the property owner's right to request the removal of the pet for any reason at any time.
In addition to signing the contract, make sure you're a good pet-owning neighbor taking the time to introduce yourself and your pet to the other tenants in the building. This lets them get comfortable with your pet even if they're not pet lovers themselves.
It also allows you to establish a relationship with your neighbors so that if an issue occurs, they come to you first before reporting anything to management.
You should also keep an eye on your pet even if you're not home to ensure they're behaving. Hire a dog walker to come in, check on things and give your dog a little exercise while you're away at work. If you've got a cat, set up a camera or two in your apartment and check in while you're gone to be on the safe side.
This information may also get explained in your pet contract, but make sure you budget for extra pet fees when signing a lease in a pets-allowed building. The cost associated with having a pet in an apartment come in a few categories.
A pet deposit is like a security deposit for a pet. You have to pay it upfront, but you can get the money back if there aren't damages to repair when you move out. A pet fee is a flat rate you pay for having the pet. This is money you won't get back. Property managers usually accept this fee as a one-time payment or will add a pet rent to your monthly payment, breaking out the fee over the course of your lease.
Whether a pet-friendly or pets allowed apartment, you may encounter certain restrictions on which animals are welcome. The most common prohibition are for particular dog breeds.
Make sure to have a clear understanding of how your property manager defines what are breed restrictions, so you know if your dog is going to pose a problem. If the breeds on the “no" list include aggressive dogs or larger dogs and your pet comes close to fitting into either of these categories, prepare to work a little harder to argue why your dog belongs in the apartment.
“Only 9 percent of housing allowed companion animals without any significant limitations on size or type, says the Companion Animals Renters Study from Petfinder. “Approximately one half of rental housing allowed cats, the easiest type of animal to get housing for. Large dogs were the most difficult, with only 11 percent of housing allowing these animals."
Certain dog breeds do better in an apartment setting. If you don't own a dog yet but are planning on getting one, with permission, consider checking out those breeds first.
Why do rental properties not allow pets? There's no specific argument why, but liability is often the strongest reason. Pets cause damage that goes beyond what security deposits cover. Pets can make other tenants uncomfortable. Pets can lead to an influx of complaints a property manager doesn't want to have to handle.
Regardless, even with a no pets allowed rule, it doesn't hurt to ask about having a pet. You also might consider getting something smaller and less excitable than a dog, like a cat, bird or even some fish.
An easy, less confrontational way to approach the topic with your property manager is to write a letter, explaining your position, making the request and demonstrating how owning this pet won't be an inconvenience for anyone.
“Many landlords are understandably nervous about renting to pet owners. After all, there are people who allow their pets to damage property, disturb neighbors and generally give pet-owning renters a bad name. But as it turns out, these tenants are the exception," says The Humane Society.
Demonstrating that you're one of the responsible pet owners, in every respect, can go a long way toward getting your pet to join you in your new home.