Tips for Renters
Renting with pets? Here’s some general advice that may help you find the right home.
Start your search early
We recommend starting your search several months before you plan to move. Finding pet-friendly housing often takes more effort, so give yourself plenty of time to find the right home for your family.
Begin your search by using the resources at your fingertips
Reach out to your network of friends and family by phone, email or social media to inquire if they know any pet-friendly apartments.
Simply put “pet-friendly apartments” and your city into your browser to find out what’s available in your community. Sites like Zillow.com and apartments.com also allow you to filter your search parameters, including whether apartments are dog- or cat-friendly. There are a number of sites that limit their listings to only pet-friendly rentals, such as My Pitbull is Family. These databases are continually updated with new listings, so keep checking back if you don’t find something in your area right away.
Reach out to locally owned “mom and pop” properties that set the rules directly
Often larger complexes have staff that are not authorized to make exceptions, while landlords of smaller properties might be willing to make allowances for a well-behaved pet and a responsible owner.
Create a pet resume
Show why your pet would be a positive addition to the community.
- Special photos of your pet interacting with humans and other dogs to show they are a good dog.
- Any special training or tricks
- Written references from others that can attest to your dog’s good behavior. Great references are from individuals that have interacted with your dog in meaningful ways. These could include a dog trainer, veterinarian, past landlord or neighbors, groomer, doggie daycare staff and dog walker.
- Information or even records of veterinary history, including vaccinations, spay or neuter surgery, and routine checkups. In addition to showing that your pet is healthy, your pet’s veterinary history can demonstrate that you are a responsible pet owner. Also, make sure that you are up to date on local licensing and other local laws.
Schedule a meet-and-greet
In some cases, it may help to bring your well-behaved pet to meet the landlord or manager because it may be easier to decline a pet over the phone than in person. Be sure to ask first. Alternatively, you can offer to share a video of your pet on your phone.
Consider formal training for your dog
Completing obedience training shows that you have invested in your pet, and the completion certificate can vouch for their good manners. There are many local and national companies that provide training for dogs at a range of prices.
Offer to obtain a renter's insurance policy
Renters insurance policies can provide peace of mind for landlords that are concerned about damage to their property or potential liability associated with pet-related accidents or dog bites. Shop around for insurance to discuss rates and type of coverage (but be sure to inquire about dog-breed restrictions).
Be prepared that the landlord my request an additional deposit to cover any pet damages
Landlords often request an additional deposit to cover potential damage caused by your pet. Your security deposit should be applied first for any damage.
Get a pet DNA test
The unfortunate reality is that many landlords prohibit specific breeds of dogs. While you may think you know the breed of your dog, don’t just assume that the label is correct without definitive proof of DNA.
Your job isn’t over yet!
Once you secure an apartment with your pet, be sure that you are a good neighbor and a good tenant. Your landlord and neighbors may serve as references for you the next time you need to move.
Lay rugs down to avoid scratching wood floors; use a dog crate to prevent unexpected damage; and clean up waste immediately to avoid stains on carpets. Don’t allow nuisance behaviors outside of your apartment, either. Be sure to pick up after your dog in a timely manner outside as well. Don’t allow pets to roam freely outside or in common areas, or to engage in other behaviors that will disturb your neighbors, like excessive barking.
There is a separate set of rules when renting with assistive animals.
Federal and state fair housing laws protect the right of people with disabilities to keep assistance and emotional support animals in housing, even when a landlord's policy explicitly prohibits pets.
Still haven’t found the right apartment?
Here are a few more ideas if you need more time:
- Rent a pet-friendly vacation rental, such as VRBO or Airbnb.
- Board your pet temporarily at your vet's office or boarding kennel while you continue your search.
- Find a friend or family member that will allow your pet stay at their house temporarily.