Wednesday, September 29, 2010

How to Find Pet Friendly Rentals

By Julia Williams

It can be a challenge to find pet-friendly rentals in any city. Many landlords have a firm “no pets” policy, while others only accept some animals. They may allow cats but not dogs or vice versa, or they may only allow small dogs. Sometimes, a landlord’s reluctance to accept pets is a result of a bad experience. Unfortunately, those who aren’t responsible pet owners muddy the water for those who are.

That being said, animal lovers can find a pet-friendly rental. It might require a little more effort, but it’s not an impossible feat. Be sure to give yourself enough time – you need to start looking for a pet-friendly rental at least 6-8 weeks before your current lease expires.

How to Sell Yourself

Don’t waste your time trying to convince anti-pet landlords to rent to you, because they typically won’t, no matter how stellar a tenant you might be. For landlords who are unsure about allowing pets or for rentals listed as “pets negotiable,” there are a few things you can do to sway them in your favor.

Smart landlords choose people who can prove they’re good tenants, e.g., they pay their rent on time and take good care of the property. Pet owners need to go the extra mile and prove that their dog or cat is a great tenant too. One of the best ways to do this is with a “pet resume” of sorts. This might include reference letters from current or past landlords stating their positive experience with you and your pet. It could include vet records confirming that your pet is spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and in good health. 

Demonstrate that you’re a responsible pet owner by signing a statement that your pet is well trained and will be picked up after. Another good thing to include in your pet’s dossier is a document showing that your dog has completed an obedience training class or is currently enrolled in one. These are just some examples of what to provide prospective landlords; include anything else you can think of that proves you and your pet can be trusted. When you go to check out a pet-friendly rental, you might want to bring along your dog, provided he’s well trained and will make a good first impression.

What to Know Before You Sign a Lease

Once you find what appears to be the perfect pet-friendly rental, there are things you need to do before signing a lease and preparing to move in. First and foremost, read the lease carefully, paying particular attention to sections that pertain to pets. Make sure your pet satisfies the requirements set forth in the lease, such as size restrictions and the number of pets allowed. If the lease specifies “small breeds only” but you have a Labrador, or it specifies one cat and you have two, you might be able to get an allowance. In this case, make sure this is written into the lease and initialed by you and the landlord or rental agency. You’ll also want to be sure that policies about nuisance behavior such as barking or digging won’t be a problem for you.

Next, be prepared to pay a security deposit with your first month’s rent; the maximum security deposit allowed by law varies by state. Some landlords may also require a cleaning fee, which is usually non-refundable. This one-time fee goes toward the extra cleaning that may need to be done after you and your pet vacate the rental. 

Before you move in, be sure to do a walk-through with the landlord to establish the condition of the premises. If you see things like stains on the carpet or chew marks on the doors, write them down. Photographs are also quite helpful, especially if you need to prove your case in court.

Resources for Finding a Pet Friendly Rental

Many animal shelters have programs designed to help pet owners who are looking to rent. Prospective renters are shown how to write a resume that presents their pet in the best light, and are provided with a list of pet-friendly apartments and landlords in the area.

The internet is also an extremely useful resource. There are literally thousands of websites that can help you find pet friendly rentals – permanent housing as well as vacation rentals. Some of the sites have national listings while others are local. A good place to start is, which not only has a long list of sites for pet friendly rentals, but helpful descriptions of each.

Renting with pets can present certain difficulties, but the joy of having a furry best friend makes it all worthwhile. Pet friendly rentals are out there – you just might need to search a little longer for the perfect place to call home!

Read more articles by Julia Williams

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