Renting with Pets
I recently rented a three-bedroom apartment to someone with six cats and a 100-pound dog whose breed mix was anyone’s guess. The landlord didn’t blink an eye. But it took a lot of research, hunting and persistence to find a place willing to rent to someone with such a large entourage.
Unfortunately, not all landlords or buildings are pet-friendly. The less critters you have, the easier it is to rent, but if you’re like me, you need something furry to come home to at the end of a long day. If you know you’re going to be renting for a while, it might be best to hold off on getting a larger breed dog, specific breeds that are commonly not allowed in rentals, or an excessive number of pets.
Landlords have a number of reasons for being pet-wary. One is the wear and tear on the residence, especially if it has been recently rehabbed. Another, which increases with the size of the building and number of units, is that pets create an annoyance or hazard to neighbors, whether it is the smell, excessive noise, or aggression. A third reason is the landlord’s ability to obtain insurance (thus the breed restriction). They also have reasons to want renters with pets, including the added income from all the pet fees and an increased pool of applicants for their properties.
Whatever you do, be honest upfront regarding your pet situation. You may have to pay a non-refundable pet deposit, but that’s better than having to give up your pet or move out. Don’t think you can hide a small, well-behaved animal for a full year or more.
Many landlords are now asking for a “pet interview” to make sure the pet is friendly and well-behaved. Consider bringing copies of your pet’s vaccinations and having one or two written references from former landlords or neighbors to provide assurance. If you find yourself in a particularly tough spot, you can request a trial period for your pet — just make sure you get it in writing. If all goes well, request a pet addendum to the lease at the end of the trial period.
If you are already renting and considering getting a pet, reach out to the landlord beforehand to make sure you are both on the same page. If the landlord currently does not allow dogs or cats, ask politely, offer to pay a deposit or additional “pet rent” per month, or compromise on size or breed. You may very well be able to strike a deal, especially if you are renting a single family or attached home or renting in a smaller building.
As with all things, be honest upfront and show that you understand the landlord’s side of the issue. In the meantime, if you feel you’re going to be in the area for a while, keep saving money for a down payment on a house. You may have some city pet limitations to deal with, but you’ll be in a much less restrictive environment for pet ownership.