Tips for Renting with Pets

Advice for Apartment Hunters

Your difficulty finding rental housing will be related to how tight the market is in your locale.  Where vacancy rates are extremely low, it is easy for landlords to say “no pets.”  Be prepared for your search to take longer.  In most cities, pet-friendly apartments are most difficult to find in the middle-range rents.  It gets somewhat easier at the higher end of the market.

“Cats OK” rentals are far more plentiful than dog-welcome options. Dogs over 25 lbs. are especially hard. Certain breeds (Rottweilers, German Shepherds, American Staffordshire Terriers/Pitbulls, Dobermans, Boxers, Chows) are almost impossible due in part to insurance company liability restrictions.

Single-family houses are usually easier to obtain than apartments in large multi-unit buildings.

Call local humane societies.

Many now maintain lists of pet-friendly landlords.

Dealing directly with the landlord (rather than an agent or property manager) is better, as the owner is more likely to make a case-by-case decision as to a tenant with animals.  For this reason, an apartment in an owner-occupied two- or three-family house can be a good possibility.

Offer, up-front, an additional security deposit for the pets.

Emphasize your confidence in your pets’ ability to be model tenants and your high standards of guardianship and care.

Prepare a “pet resume” for each animal.

Attach vaccination records, obedience school diplomas, licenses, Canine Good Citizen Certificate… whatever reinforces your case as a conscientious owner.   Especially in markets where this is not standard practice, it impresses the potential landlord. Supply reference letters from your prior landlords along with their addresses and phone numbers. For more pet resume tips visit RentLingo.

Be charming and friendly.

Don’t be argumentative.  Show absolutely adorable snapshots of your fuzzy darlings.

Offer to introduce your animals to the landlord.

If you are moving locally, invite the prospective landlord to visit you and your pets in your current apartment. (Very rarely will you be taken up on this, but you may score points for offering.)

Make sure the lease reflects permission to keep pets.

Verify that all signed copies have been amended, if necessary.  Do not rely on an oral agreement.

Present yourself as a super-responsible and attractive tenant.

When you do land a rental, be sure to live up to that standard, always picking up after your dog and making sure that your animals are not only a joy to you but are never a nuisance to your neighbors.  Noise, damage and waste removal are reasonable concerns for property owners and other tenants.  Remember, it’s the bipedal tenant, not the quadruped who is responsible.  You owe it to your landlord, your neighbors, and yourself not to give them grounds for complaint.  Most of all, you owe it to your animal(s) because it is they who pay the ultimate price of the shortage of pet-friendly housing.  By being a model tenant, you and your pets will help open doors for us all.

Final advice: Do not give up!

Links to On-line Pet-Friendly Listings

For apartment or townhouse-type developments, several websites allow you to search for pet-friendly listings.

(note:  MAC does not necessarily endorse any of these websites, but provides them as a resource to assist in your search)

More Help and Information

  • HSUS Information for Renters with Pets
  • Check the Humane Society of the United States housing website for landlord/tenant hints, sample resumes, and links to apartment locator websites by state, city.  Also available from HSUS is 13 Steps to Finding Rental Housing that Accepts Pets: A Guide for Pet Owners.  You can also order a copy of the booklet from: Pets for Life, HSUS, 2100 L St. NW, Washington, DC 20037.
  • Click on Pet Owners and Pets in Housing for “Guidelines for Responsible Pet Ownership” and other useful information.
  • Find out how your dog can be certified as a Canine Good Citizen.  See for information about the Canine Good Citizen program and to find the nearest evaluator.  Or call for a booklet: 919-852-3875.  Many dog trainers offer classes specifically geared to passing this 10-step test, but no course is required.  You can easily prepare your dog on your own.
  • For information and assistance on housing and other issues: Animal Legal Defense Fund, 127 4th St., Petaluma, CA 94952-3005.  Phone 707-769-7771 ext. 10.  FAX 707-769-0785. Click here for advice on landlord/tenant disputes.
  • Ruth Smiler is an “Animal-Affirmative Housing Advocate” who can provide consulting and mediation services to tenants and landlords to help resolve or prevent animal-related disputes.  Contact her [email protected]
  • HPC Apartment guides for 120 markets nationally can be ordered by calling (800) 551-2787.
  • Bad Rap: Renting with Your Dog
  • Tips for Pet Owners: How to Always Get Your Deposit Back

Reasonable Rules for Canine Tenants

  • Dog will never be left outside or unattended.
  • Dog will be leashed or under voice control at all times when entering and exiting the tenant’s apartment and building, and in outdoor areas of the property.
  • Petkeeper will pick up and dispose of all solid waste left by the dog both on the premises and off.
  • Excessive barking, whining, or howling will not be tolerated.  “Excessive” is defined as longer in duration than 10 minutes, or 5 minutes of continuous barking more than three times a day.
  • Dog will not be left alone in apartment for periods longer than 6 hours unless it can be demonstrated that the animal is capable of more extended times.  In no case will the period be greater than 10 hours.  If the human tenant’s schedule requires absences from home of longer duration, he/she will engage a petwalker to take the dog out during the day, or arrange for off-premises “doggie daycare.”
  • Dog will be bathed and groomed as necessary.  An effective flea and parasite control program is required.

Tenants – How You can Help

Good, animal-welcoming landlords deserve the support and encouragement of all animal advocates.  Cherish your good relationship.  Be a model tenant and a model of responsible pet ownership at all times.

Please address your feedback, ideas, comments to: [email protected]

The landlord and tenant information for this website have been supplied courtesy of Ruth Smiler [email protected]