If you have a furry family member, it can be challenging to find the perfect apartment where you can all live. Apartment List recently published data about the top cities for dog and cat lovers; today, we’re here to help you understand how to find a pet-friendly apartment.
Fees and Restrictions
First, we’ll address the common restrictions and fees that you may face.
Restrictions: Every landlord has a different pet policy, but most have one or more of the following rules for tenants bringing pets. This can include:
- Number of pets: We’ve found that most apartment buildings limit residents to a total of 2 pets.
- Weight restrictions: Some apartments do not allow (or may charge additional fees for) dogs over 55 lbs.
- Breed restrictions: Many landlords will not allow residents to bring dogs deemed “aggressive,” which while can be an unfair rule, it’s up to the establishment’s discretion. There’s no set list, but this usually includes Pit bulls, Dobermans, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, and Great Danes. See below for options on how to appeal this restriction.
In our experience, almost all apartments require tenants to pay a premium (“pet rent”) for their dog or cat. Some states and cities place limits on these fees, so you may want to research local regulations if your landlord requires payments that are astronomically high. Here are the fees that we commonly see:
- Pet deposits (one-time, refundable fee when moving in)
- Pet fee (a one-time, non-refundable fee)
- Pet rent (a monthly charge added to your base rent)
Know your rights
Note that even if a lease specifically prohibits all pets, those with differing abilities and special needs have a legal right to bring along service or emotional support pets. You do not have to disclose your disability to the landlord. Additionally, service and emotional support pets are not subject to pet fees.
Appealing Fees & Restrictions
The good news is that many landlords and property managers can be flexible with policies as long as you can show that you and your pet are responsible tenants. Here are four strategies to convince your landlord that your pet is a safe bet.
1. Build a pet resume
Building a pet resume is all about showcasing your pet, and makes the screening process faster. Things you can include in your pet’s resume are: photo, description, training certification, health records, habits, grooming. ApartmentGuide.com provides a good example of what your pet resume can include. A letter of recommendation from previous landlords and neighbors helps too!
2. Promote yourself and your pet
Let your landlord know you share similar concerns about cleanliness. Impart that your pet is potty-trained, vaccinated, flea-controlled, etc. Getting a training certificate like the Canine Good Citizen for dogs is a good way to prove to your landlord your pet would be a good tenant.
3. Get insurance for your pet
Liability is a top concern for landlords, and one of the main reasons landlords are against pets. Landlords will feel more comfortable allowing pets if they are insured – this can be especially helpful if you have an aggressive breed. Be sure to find out whether your insurance has a dog bite exclusion, dangerous breed exclusion or other limitations.
Note that most rental insurance companies do not cover dog bites, so you may need to get a separate pet insurance policy. The Federation of Insured Dog Owners will provide canine liability insurance policies for all breeds of dogs.
Furthermore, having pet health insurance is another factor that helps prove you’re a responsible pet parent. Oftentimes, a dog or cat struggling with health issues can also have behavioral symptoms that may affect other tenants (odors, whimpering or crying, soiling areas of the apartment). By having pet health insurance, you can make sure your pet gets the best treatment for accidents and illnesses, and won’t be a liability to any other building inhabitants.
4. Have your pet spayed/neutered
As we mentioned, many apartment buildings limit the number of pets a tenant is allowed to have in their home. Landlords are much more likely to allow a fixed animal than one that could potentially have offspring bringing the apartment’s total pets way past the accepted amount.
Finally, use the Apartment List site to search for apartments that allow dogs or cats! This makes it so easy for you to find the perfect place for you and your furry friend. Good luck hunting!
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