If you’re like millions of renters in America, you’re likely wondering how the process works when you want to bring along your furry friend. That’s why we’d put together a complete guide on renting with pets.
Disclaimer: The information included in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as legal, financial, or DIY advice. We highly suggest consulting a professional before attempting any DIY home improvements or repairs.
After weeks of searching, you’ve finally found the perfect place for rent. It’s not too expensive, the location is great, and most importantly, your pet can come with you. You’re ready to move in as soon as possible and start living a life you’ve always dreamed of.
Before you do that, though, take another look at that pet-friendly policy your landlord has told you about. Those policies often come with restrictions and rules, ensuring that only some types of pets are acceptable.
Thus, it could turn out that your pet actually can’t live in your dream apartment, despite its pet-friendly label. Your landlord should tell you about any additional restrictions.
But if they don’t, you’ll need to ask them yourself. And if you’re not sure what exactly to ask about, we’re here to help. Here is what you need to know before you decide to rent a flat.
What Kinds of Pets Are Allowed?
Pet policy may say that you can keep pets in the apartment, yet your landlord might turn you down if you show up with your pitbull. In such a case, it becomes obvious that only certain types of pets may live in the flat, and you need to find out which ones.
For instance, some landlords tend to ban “dangerous” dog breeds — pit bulls, Rottweilers, and German Shepherds are out of the question then. That’s not too surprising, as some insurance companies won’t issue liability policies if a dangerous dog is on the property.
Aside from that, you may encounter a pet weight limit. Instead of banning more aggressive dog breeds, your landlord may decide not to allow dogs that weigh over 20 pounds.
That effectively excludes larger and often more dangerous breeds without outright specifying anything. But dogs aren’t the only pets that can face restrictions.
If you own a more exotic pet — for example, a snake or a tarantula — you need to let your landlord know in advance. Some of them certainly don’t allow these kinds of animals in their apartments, but they might forget to tell you since such pets are fairly uncommon.
Will Your Pet Need Some Certificates and Documentation?
Some landlords are open to allowing you to keep a pet in the apartment, as long as it’s properly trained and checked by a vet. Basically, if you want to move in and bring your pet along, you’ll need to provide documents and certificates proving that your pet is reliable.
Typically, this documentation includes vaccination confirmations and proof that your pet is spayed or neutered. Also, if you own a dog, you may need to add a certificate for any training classes it attended.
Obviously, no such thing is necessary for a cat, but everything else still stands. So, it’s best to have these things ready in advance. Your vet will surely be willing to give you all the necessary documentation. After all, they do that all the time.
Then, when you talk to your landlord, you can show them all the papers. Even if they didn’t put it as a requirement, they’ll be glad to see that you’re properly taking care of your pet.
Is There a Pet Fee?
Since letting an animal live in an apartment comes with certain risks, many landlords like to impose an additional pet fee. This fee often works like a deposit. In other words, the landlord charges it when you move in and uses it to cover the damage caused by your pet.
If your pet always behaves well, though, you’ll receive your deposit before you move out. Now, in some states, the legality of a pet fee is questionable. In others, it’s outright illegal. Still, many landlords charge it, so don’t be surprised if yours does too.
Instead, find out as much as you can about it — how much it is and what sort of damage it would be used for. That way, things will be a little more transparent, and you’ll probably feel more willing to pay.
And remember — no one can charge a pet fee for a support animal. If they do, you have every right to contest the fee and even take it up in court.
Are There Any Pet-Free Zones?
Even if your pet is allowed to stay in your flat, it might not have the freedom to go wherever it wants in the building. Some apartment buildings have pet-free zones where animals simply aren’t welcome, whether you accompany them or not.
Those areas usually include common rooms and rooftops, often reserved for tenants to relax and enjoy each other’s company. So, before you move in, ask the landlord if there are any such pet-free zones. And if the answer is yes, respect it.
There’s probably a reason these zones exist — for instance, some tenants might not feel comfortable around animals. In that case, you shouldn’t force them to be around your pets, especially in a common area.
Can Guests Bring Pets When They Visit?
Finally, you need to check if only your pets are allowed in your flat, or if others can visit too. Most pet-friendly landlords might not have a problem with your friend’s pet staying for a few hours, but some will.
When your pet and your guest’s pet get together, they might be louder or more undisciplined than usual, and that could be a problem. So, to avoid any awkward situations, simply ask your landlord what they allow.
And though it may seem easy to sneak in your guest’s pet anyway, don’t do it. You’ll be betraying your landlord’s trust that way, and that could lead to many other issues down the line.
Though pet-friendly apartments seem to be everywhere, they aren’t all the same. The rules and restrictions differ in each one and largely depend on the landlord and their preferences.
Thus, you need to approach your landlord directly and talk to them about your pet. These few questions will lead the conversation in the right direction, but feel free to ask some of your own. After all, the more you know, the better!