Renting with pets is not always easy. Pet owners who need a place to live have many extra considerations to take into account when searching for a rental. Besides the amount of space needed to comfortably house your pets, rental policies vary widely in the type, size and number of pets allowed, if at all.
Unfortunately, previous bad experiences with pet owners have led many landlords to not accept renters with pets. Recognize that it may be futile to try to sell yourself and your pet to a large rental community with a clear no-pets policy. You’re more likely to be successful if you focus on places that allow most pets, allow certain pets (for example, cats or dogs weighing less than 20 pounds), or that don’t say, “Sorry, no pets.” Individual home owners may be easiest to persuade. Ideally, look for a community with appropriate pet-keeping guidelines that specify resident obligations. That’s the kind of place that’s ideal for pet owners because you’ll know that other pet caregivers there also are committed to being responsible residents.
Not sure where to start? Here’s 8 methods that can help you find and secure a pet-friendly rental. Information provided by The Humane Society of The United States.
1. Search early, search often. Because of the extra difficulty in finding pet-friendly rentals, give yourself plenty of time for your search – at least six weeks. Craiglist offers the option of searching for rental listings that indicate whether cats or dogs are accepted. To see a list of pet-friendly housing options in Chico, visit the Resources section of Butte Humane Society’s website at http://www.buttehumane.org.
2. If a rental’s pet policy is not specified, it never hurts to ask. Make your request to the individual or group who ultimately has the authority to grant it. Usually this will be the owner of the house or apartment, but they may delegate the decision to a landlord or resident manager. If you encounter a no-pets policy, ask if it is the result of a negative experience with a previous resident. Since the policy is not likely to change, finding out about their prior experience may show you how to present your own request most effectively to another potential landlord.
3. Gather proof that you’re responsible. The more documentation you can provide to prove your conscientiousness as a pet owner, the more convincing your appeal will be to your future landlord. This should include:
- A letter of reference from your current landlord verifying that you are a responsible pet owner.
- Written proof that your adult dog has completed a training class, or that your puppy is enrolled in one.
- A letter from your veterinarian stating that you have been diligent in your pet’s medical care. Supply documentation that your pet has been spayed or neutered and vaccinated against rabies. (Sterilized pets are healthier, calmer, and far less likely to be a nuisance to neighbors.) Most veterinarians routinely fulfill such requests for their clients.
4. Promote yourself. Responsible pet owners make excellent residents – because they must search harder for a place to live, they are more cautious about damages and more likely to stay put. Lower vacancy rates mean lower costs and fewer headaches for landlords and real estate agents. Let prospective landlords know that you understand that living with a pet is a privilege, not a right. Let them know that you share any concerns about cleanliness. Point out that your pet is housetrained or litter-box trained. Emphasize that you always clean up after your dog outdoors and that you always properly dispose of your pet’s waste.
5. Promote your pet. Offer to bring your pet to meet the owner or landlord, or invite them to visit you and your pet in your current home. A clean, well-behaved pet will speak volumes – emphasize that the same pride you take in caring for your pet extends to taking care of your home. Many landlords are concerned about fleas, so be sure to let them know that you maintain an active flea-control program for your pet and home. Make it clear to the landlord or manager that you keep your pets inside and under control at all times and will walk your dog on leash in designated areas only, and that you understand the health and safety benefits of doing so. If you can’t arrange for a meeting, consider making a small scrapbook with photos of your pet sitting nicely in your current home, and/or draw up a résumé for your pet. These unique ideas are guaranteed to make a strong, yet positive, impression.
6. Be willing to pay a little extra. Tell your prospective landlord that you are willing to pay an extra security deposit to cover any property damages your pet might make.
7. Get it all in writing. Once you have been given permission by a landlord to have a pet, be sure to get it in writing by signing a pet addendum to your rental agreement. Comprehensive agreements protect people, property, and the pets themselves. If your lease has a no-pets clause, verbal approval won’t be enough. The no-pets clause should be removed from the lease (or crossed out and initialed) before you sign it. Be sure it has been removed from or crossed out on your landlord’s copy, too. You may be required to pay a pet deposit, some or all of which may be nonrefundable. Be sure to discuss deposits and any monthly pet-related fees in advance, and have these fees put into writing. Request a copy of any house rules pertaining to pets. Let the landlord know that you will follow the rules set for the entire community and respect the concerns of residents who do not own pets.
8. Above all, be honest and follow the rules. Don’t try to sneak your pet in – no matter how sneaky you may be, your landlord WILL find out! And that isn’t good for anyone involved. Even landlords who accept pets may have size, breed or species restrictions, as well as a cap on the number of total pets allowed. Keeping an animal in violation of a community’s rules contributes to the general inclination of landlords not to allow pets. You also may be subject to possible eviction or other legal action, or be forced to give up your pet in order to keep your home.
Do you live in a pet-friendly rental in Chico? Tell us about it in the comments!
– Heather Schoeppach