The results are in: more renters than ever have fur families or other beloved pets in tow. All in all, an estimated 67% of American homes have pets, so it’s safe to say that households with pets are the rule rather than the exception.
Even if renters with pets are the new norm, renting with a pet or pets raises some considerations—from fees to making sure your pet has their needs covered—that should be addressed before you move in.
We’ve written this guide to help you find a pet friendly apartment. The tips below can help you find pet friendly rentals and show prospective landlords that you and your pet(s) are renters they want around. Our tips can also help you make sense of any pet policy you might encounter or figuring out your responsibilities as a pet owner and renter.
After all, pets shouldn’t be a dealbreaker when it comes to finding your dream home.
Be a show off
We’ve previously advised having all necessary documents on hand before you start your rental search— after all, you want to show landlords how organized and responsible you are. Pet-related documents are no exception.
If you’re looking for a home for you and your pets, you should make sure the landlords know what a great tenant your pet would be. Creating a pet resume to submit along with your rental application can be a great way to inform your landlord about your pet’s behavior and history. You can even write a cover letter that notes your pet’s adoption story and include any personal references, such as your go-to veterinarian or any friends who have experience with your pet.
For example, if you have a dog, their resume could include their vaccinations and immunization status, whether they are neutered or spayed, any training certifications they may have, and other basic information such as their breed and size. A cat resume could also note this information.
Resumes that list vaccination and immunization for other pets such as reptiles or smaller critters are also highly beneficial.
No matter what kind of pet you’re raising, a resume that includes at least a photo and any special facts about your pet can also work wonders. Inviting a landlord to meet your pet can also help emphasize how well-behaved your pet is.
Prioritize finding pet-friendly properties
First things first: while some guides advise that “no pets allowed” policies aren’t exactly final, we don’t recommend trying to convince landlords or property managers to have a change of heart when it comes to four legged friends and other animal companions.
Unless you know that the landlord or property manager has a previous history of flexibility in this area, “no pets allowed” apartments generally mean what they say. Don’t worry, plenty of landlords realize that pets can be excellent tenants as well, so be sure to keep an eye out for these properties.
What are pet-friendly apartments?
As with any apartment search, research is the key to successfully finding pet-friendly apartments.
A pet-friendly apartment is an apartment that allows pet owners and their animals to rent units and live on the property. Another characteristic of pet-friendly apartments are pet amenities such as dog parks, outdoor areas, and other services not found in other apartments.
Sometimes, apartments or properties will advertise as “pets allowed.” Like pet-friendly, this means that the landlord or property manager allows pets to live with their owners in their rental. However, pet-friendly apartments tend to be more amenable to pets than complexes where pets are simply allowed.
How can you find pet-friendly apartments?
As a caring pet owner and discerning renter, you probably want the best for your pets (and yourself), so you should prioritize finding pet-friendly apartments over properties advertised as pets allowed.
Finding a pet-friendly apartment can be as easy as searching “pet-friendly apartments near me” using the search engine of your choice. Another great way to find pet friendly apartments is to take to social media: plenty of pet owners post about their #renterlife as pet parents. Sites like Reddit can be especially helpful since people often discuss their experiences with renting with pets and how to find pet-friendly apartments.
Pay special attention to location, space, and amenities
When it comes to our beloved pets, it’s only logical that factors such as the location of the unit, how much space it has, and what amenities it offers are crucial. Once you find pet-friendly apartments, you should consider these three factors to find the perfect unit for you and your pet(s).
Location, location, location
When it comes to location, bear in mind that while the general area and neighborhood are important, the location of your unit within the rental property itself also warrants some special attention. For example, if you have a dog that needs to be taken out multiple times a day, having a unit on the fourth floor may not be ideal.
Similarly, if you have a pet that is sensitive to noise, living on the first floor or near the main entrance of your apartment may be too disruptive. Don’t forget to consider what the humans need as well!
Depending on the size of your pet, it’s also critical to find a unit that has the appropriate amount of space for your pet to thrive. If you’ve got your human and animal family in tow, you’ll likely need a larger unit. However, if you and your pet are a family of two, a one bedroom unit, large studio or even a loft space might be perfectly suitable.
Finally, what can take pet-friendly apartments to the next level are their special, pet centered amenities. Some complexes have dog parks and dedicated pet sitters on site. Others offer grooming stations, spas, and other services for four legged friends and other critters. If you’re lucky enough to have several pet-friendly apartments to choose from, the on-site amenities can help you make your choice.
Don’t just pay attention to the human rules
We all know to consider the rules for tenants in complexes, but what about the rules for pets? Even if they allow pets, complexes can have special rules regarding the types of animals they allow on the property. This brings us to our next point:
Read the fine print
As with any rental situation, we would advise you to be extra careful when reviewing the property’s policies and your leasing agreement. However, you should take this to the next level if you’re a pet parent.
Make sure to review what the leasing agreement says regarding tenants and their pets, which is commonly known as the property’s pet policy.
Even if the complex is pet-friendly, there could still be some stipulations and terms you have to follow. For example, are tenants responsible for any pet-related damages? Are there special fees for pet owners? Are there pet quiet hours? Are pet owners required to perform some kind of routine maintenance on their unit? Are there restrictions regarding what kinds of animals constitute a “pet”?
This advice really applies to any part of your leasing agreement that isn't perfectly clear, but if you don’t understand your landlord’s pet policy perfectly, ask! It’s better to get any questions you may have out of the way before you and your beloved pets have committed to a rental agreement.
What is a pet deposit?
Speaking of rental agreements, most pet-friendly ones will outline any fees pet owners need to pay. Sometimes there aren’t any, but it’s more likely that pet parents will have to pay a pet deposit.
Pet deposits function a lot like security deposits in that they are a one time fee that the renter has to pay upfront before moving in. Many landlords and property managers use pet deposits as a way to hold pet parents accountable. If your pet damages your unit or the property, the landlord may keep all or part of the deposit to offset any repair costs. Otherwise, pet deposits get refunded in full at the end of your lease.
What are pet fees and “pet rent”?
Some properties have pet fees instead of pet deposits. Unlike a pet deposit, pet fees are usually non-refundable. You may pay a pet fee one time upfront like a pet deposit, or you may pay pet fees monthly. If the fee is monthly, it’s sometimes called “pet rent.” Landlords and property managers charge pet fees for a variety of reasons, including the maintenance of pet oriented perks on the property.
These fees should be considered non-negotiable and should be considered as part of your rent. Make sure to include them in your budget.
It’s important to note that any pet deposit or pet fees should be outlined in your lease or rental agreement. If you are accepted into a pet-friendly property that doesn't explicitly state this information, proceed with caution. Any pet-friendly apartment or even apartments that simply allow pets should be candid about pet policies. If you don’t see anything related to pets, ask! Again, it’s better to find out before it’s too late.
Don’t try to pull a fast one
Remember, honesty is the best policy for renters, and pets are no exception.
We strongly advise against misleading landlords or property managers about your pets, whether that be the number, their vaccination history, or any other previous incidents of note. For example, hiding your pet’s violent history could result in legal trouble for you if your pet harms another tenant.
Most pet policies also forbid tenants from lying about the number of pets they have. These policies are in place to protect both the property and the other tenants. While having ten parrots may be fine for you, it could be a hazard for the landlord or your neighbors. As such, you should never try to hide how many pets you have.
Secret pets are also a major no-no. Having to hide your pet likely means that you can’t take care of all of its needs. Moreover, landlords or property managers could fine or even evict tenants for having secret pets.
Know your rights as a pet owner and renter
While you should always comply with your apartment’s pet policy, it’s worth noting that contracts can’t be changed unless both sides agree. If your rental agreement or lease stipulates that pets are allowed, your landlord or property manager can’t suddenly demand you remove your pet unless you’re in violation of a previously agreed upon rule.
As per The Humane Society of the United States, landlords can’t enter your apartment and forcibly remove your pet or pets, force your pet out of your unit, or evict you based on an arbitrary change in the apartment’s pet policy. If a landlord or property manager suddenly threatens to evict you due to your pet, you should seek legal services before you take any action.
Pet-friendly rentals are out there
Don’t be daunted in your search for the perfect pet-friendly apartment for you and your pet. Most landlords welcome tenants with pets because, well, most renters have pets in tow. If you follow our tips and make sure to do your research before signing your lease, you’ll land a pet-friendly paradise in no time.