Angela has been both a renter with multiple pets and a pet-friendly landlord. She has shared her life with several dogs and cats.
If you've ever had to find rental housing that allows pets, then chances are you know just how hard it can be. Many pet owners have complained that the only rentals available to them are substandard or in poor condition because landlords generally don't want pets in their nice apartments or homes. After talking to both landlords and tenants, it's not as black-and-white as it might seem at first. Landlords aren't all evil and immoral for refusing pets, and tenants with pets aren't all messy or irresponsible. Landlords just want to protect their investment while tenants want a decent place to live with their pets. Here's what you can do if you're a pet owner trying to find a place to rent.
Why Are Landlords Reluctant to Rent to People With Pets?
It's easy to get angry with landlords who refuse to allow renters with pets. Pets are part of the family, and for someone who's looking for housing, it can feel downright discriminatory to refuse pets! But from a landlord's perspective, it only takes one irresponsible tenant to turn them off to pets.
Landlords who refuse pets aren't necessarily pet-haters. They might even have their own pets, but maybe they've heard horror stories from other landlords, or maybe they allowed pets at one time but had a bad experience that they don't care to repeat.
- Damages caused by pets. Although many jurisdictions allow landlords to charge a little extra for pets, there is often a limit as to how much they can charge. The tenant's security deposit sometimes isn't enough to cover the repairs.
- Noise problems. Excessive barking, meowing, or even chirping can become a huge problem in an apartment or condominium where there are lots of residents living in close quarters. Constant noise complaints can cause the landlord many headaches trying to deal with the issue.
- Community concerns. Tenants are expected to behave in a way that shows respect for their neighbors and their community. Tenants who don't pick up after their dogs, who let cats wander and cause a nuisance, or don't keep dogs leashed can cause the neighbors to lodge a complaint. And it's the landlord who has to deal with the issue once again.
So you can see why many landlords are reluctant to accept pets. It's not necessarily that they don't like pets, but more that they're worried about making sure their investment is properly cared for. They are understandably wary about the possibility of getting an irresponsible tenant who doesn't take their responsibilities as a pet owner seriously. Some condominiums will even fine the owners if the tenant breaks the rules!
How to Persuade a Landlord to Allow a Pet
Landlords want to protect their investment. As a pet owner, you want to show a prospective landlord that you are a responsible tenant and a responsible pet owner. You want to convince the landlord that it would be a good thing to have you as a tenant! Here are a few things to consider when renting with pets:
- Create a resume for your pet. It might sound funny to have a resume for an animal, but it can help show a landlord that you are a responsible pet owner. Include helpful information like obedience and socialization classes, any volunteer work your pet might have done (eg. pet-assisted therapy work), references from veterinarians, dog trainers, pet sitters, neighbors, previous landlords, etc. You could also include a copy of your pet's vaccination records to show that he's healthy and is up-to-date on vaccines. It also helps to show that your pet is spayed or neutered. Finally, include a short write-up about you as a pet owner.
- Offer a prospective landlord the opportunity to visit you at your current residence. He can then meet your pet and see how well you keep your current rental unit.
- Try to take a few days off when you move into a new place to help your pet adjust. It's new for your pet too, and sometimes even the quietest pets will get anxious in new surroundings and make excessive noise, disturbing the neighbors. It often helps if you can be there to help your pet adjust to his new home.
- Be a good neighbor. Make sure your pets don't disturb your neighbors, whether it's with noise, pets wandering loose, or unsightly messes. Remember that your landlord has to deal with complaints and won't be happy if it keeps happening!
- Be diligent about addressing any concerns your landlord may have. If an issue arises about your pet, make sure you understand what the problem is and take immediate steps to address it. For example, your dog may bark excessively when you first move in because he's unsure of his surroundings. Try another temporary solution (put your dog in a comfy covered crate with his bedding, toys, and water; take him to a doggy daycare; take a few days off to help your dog adjust).
- Get permission for all types of pets, not just dogs. Sometimes tenants assume that indoor cats or caged pets will automatically be okay because no one else ever sees them. Trouble (and heartache) arises when they're found to have pets without permission. There are many landlords that place restrictions on what types of pets you can have. Even birds are a touchy issue because their singing, chirping, and sometimes even talking can be loud and disruptive to other residents of the building.
- Check your rental agreement first before you get a pet. Most of the time you will need to get approval from your landlord before you get a pet, even if you already have one. Many rental units have a limit on the number of pets you can have, the size of the pet, or the types of pets allowed.
- Get it in writing. A verbal acceptance of your pet isn't good enough. Ask to get it in writing so that you have some protection if they later ask you to get rid your pet (if you violate any of the rules they may be able to do it anyway). Make sure your rental agreement states the name and type of your pet(s).
- Be prepared with temporary housing plans. You might not be able to find pet-friendly housing right away so have a backup plan in place. Ask a good friend or a family member if they would be willing to care for your pet temporarily until you can find rental housing that allows pets. If you can't bear the thought of being away from your pet, then stay at short-term pet-friendly accommodations like hotels or even a B&B or a cottage.
Although landlords and tenants are often at odds about the issue of allowing pets in rental units, there are many successful landlord-tenant relationships that include pets. Landlords are happy to have responsible tenants with pets as it can mean less turnover. Tenants with pets are likewise happy to have decent "pets allowed" housing and will take good care of the rental unit.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Sarah Forester from Australia on February 24, 2014:
I had so much trouble renting with my pet, it's unfortunate but I can understand why they do it.
iluvdogscuzihavthree on June 15, 2012:
Once I had three dogs and we were going to move into an apartment but I know that it means I have to give up my three baby maltese puppies! I had to do something so I cried and cried until my mom finally let me keep them cuz she found a new house for us. Lolz! Good luck to the peeps who cant keep a pet! And may the odds always be in ur favors! :}
Joe Njenga from Nairobi Kenya on June 05, 2012:
Very useful hub on renting with Pets, I was once challenged by having to live in an Apartment with a dog while it was not allowed. If I am renting I always ask if pets are allowed. Its important to know before moving to the new apartment.
Angela (author) on April 16, 2012:
So sorry to hear about the loss of Aspen, mbaker865. She sounds like she had a long and happy life. Thanks for commenting.
mbaker865 from Knoxville, TN on April 16, 2012:
As a previous renter in various states, this is a great article full of useful advice. The Eskie in this article looks so much like my "Aspen". Sadly, we lost her in January after 15 wonderful years. She made many moves and began her life with us as an apartment puppy. One suggestion I might add to renters (if it is in the budget) is to invest in a dog walker. It helps significantly with destructive behavior because the dog gets that necessary daily exercise and interaction and can help with barking as well with some dogs. Aspen was very receptive to it, looked forward to her new friend that walked her and overall was more relaxed when we got home in the evening.
Wes on January 04, 2012:
I have always had multiple animals and have been fortunate to be able to rent from friends. It is insane to try and find a truly pet friendly rental in California. Just about impossible if you have a Dog that is labeled an aggressive breed from insurance cost for possible dog bite. I believe it should all be on the owner of the pet not the landlord if your dog bites somebody.It is just another excuse for insurance companies to charge more money.It should be treated the same as a gun. Landlords don't tell you or ask if you own a gun.They are not held responsible if you shoot some one you are.Aggressive labeled dog breeds should be treated no differently from the non aggressive breeds.I have owned Pit bulls and Dobermans that were not aggressive and never would bite anyone unless I was being physically attacked. If they were to bite I would feel responsible as their owner. These rules against Pets just seem mean and hateful by heartless greedy landlords.
Courtney and Robert on November 23, 2011:
We, have 5 feline children, have just been hired for state jobs in VA 2 hrs away from our NC home and finding housing close to work is almost like selling ice to an Eskimo chief. Its horrible and some people wonder why its so hard to find homes for the kittens or puppies their pets produce. Its leading to a point where your going to have to own a home in order to have a gold fish.
u2philly on September 30, 2011:
Need to move out of my rental house. Landlord is not fixing and we have mold. I have 4 cats. Called many apartments that say pet friendly or cats allowed. But they don't tell you how many cats. So my boyfriend and I call and they turn us down because of 4 cats. I don't know where to look for a place to live? Turn down after turn down. What does one do?? Im not giving up my babies
Karen on January 29, 2011:
Many,many more people will need to rent when they lose their homes in the upcoming years. If these people can't find homes that will take their animals too then a lot of these animals will end up at the pound and will be euthanized.
Paty on May 30, 2010:
It is difficult to find a clean decent place to live when you have pets, I have a shih tzu who just happends to be a whole lot cleanner than most kids in my complex. My dog don't write on the wall, he don't put his dirty greasy hands on the sliding patio door, he don't throw food on the floor and most importantly, he does not pee on the toilet seat or have smelly nasty diapers. My little dog is perfectly house trained and sweet smelling, I think people with children should have to pay a monthly fee of $35.00 per kid.
Angela (author) on November 23, 2009:
Hi Stimp! The dog in the photo is a mini Eskie at the larger end of the mini-Eskie scale. I love all dogs too. Glad to hear that you were able to find a place that allows pets. It can be tough when vacancy rates are low! Thanks for commenting.
Stimp from Upper Midwest on November 18, 2009:
Is that a toy Eskie? Cute, cute, cute. I have an eskie who was supposed to be a toy but apparently he suffers from gigantism since he's closer to being of standard size rather than toy. But I still love their little faces. I too have had to rent with animals. Fortunately, the economy dictated at that time that we, as the renters, got to say what was what.....and what was what at that time was me renting a town home with a cat, a pomeranian, and a german shep. It is what it is and no damage was done.
tonyhubb on November 10, 2009:
Very good information, thanks!
Angela (author) on August 10, 2009:
Hi Morris, thanks for commenting. Pets don't necessarily mean "noise, damage, and smells". We know lots of responsible pet owners who have pets in rental housing and you'd never even know the pets were there! That's not to say that there aren't irresponsible pet owners too, but it's hard for both sides (landlords and tenants). Landlords are of course worried about their investment and are reluctant to allow pets, but at the same time there are lots of great tenants who just happen to have pets.
Morris Streak from UK on July 21, 2009:
I suppose it's the noise, the damage, and the smells the pets leave behind that bother some people, from my experience at least. As for the noise, one could get some soundproofing, especially for the windows. So one might need to do some house repairs after all, to adjust to the pets. Good hub. I'm into window repairs, by the way.
Angela (author) on April 27, 2008:
Thanks, grousepup and Chris, both of your comments. Chris - there are always people with pets looking for good housing. Hopefully if you place an ad stating that you allow pets, you'll be able to find the right family for your little home.
Chris on April 25, 2008:
Bravo - all such great advice. I am now on the opposite side of the fence with the perfect little house and fenced yard just looking for the right "Animal Family" to rent my old home... but how does one post a rental to just Dog People?
grousepup from South Salem on March 03, 2008:
Hey, kudos to you for one of the most thorough explorations of this extremely problematical situation for so many pet owners. Most complete and helpful to anyone faced with a vexing decision.