So you need to find a new place to call home, or maybe you found a great opportunity in a new town. Whether you have already made the decision and have found a rental, or if you’re starting the process, moving can be a challenge. The logistics of searching for the perfect home and weighing the decisions of the home location, cost of living, and making sure it has all the amenities can be a long process. Pets can sometimes make this process a little more complicated. When looking for a house to rent, pets can be a significant factor in the decision-making process.
What You Might Be Up Against
Some pet owners do not responsibly look after their pets, thus leading to their pets getting into mischief and damaging the home. Accidents happen, however not everyone can or will fix damages done by their pets. For these reasons, finding a place to rent when you have pets can be rather challenging. Landlords don’t like taking the risk of having pets damaging their homes. Therefore, they will ask a lot of personal questions before deciding to allow you and your pets into their rental. It’s a tough and competitive rental market out there. Let’s talk about ways to improve your odds of finding a perfect place for your living situation that allows pets.
Consider Both Your Families’ & Your Pets’ Lifestyles
- Before even looking at the first rental, have a list of housing needs and “housing wants” made up. Doing this exercise will force you to consider your options before falling in love with a place that may not exactly fit your personal or financial lifestyle.
- If your pet currently has a back yard or a larger space to stretch out, this is something you want to consider when looking for a new place. If the prospective home does not have as big of an area for your pet, plan on fitting more exercise for your pet into your daily schedule. If you don’t continue a “normal” exercise routine for your pet at your new home, your pet could start to exhibit behavioral issues.
- If you are a dog owner and are moving to a more congested area, drive by the prospective regions which you are looking at renting. You may discover there is a nearby park to let your dog exercise. Therefore, a place with a smaller backyard (or no backyard) might not be such a big deal.
- Also, consider your pet’s personality. Is your dog very reactive to sound? If so, an apartment on the ground floor (or near a high traffic area) may not be the best fit as your dog might spend the day barking while you are at work. Think of all your dog’s behavioral traits and “quirks” when considering your new home.
Ask A Lot of Questions About The Rental
- When narrowing down your choices, don’t assume that any or all types of pets are allowed just because a listing states “pets allowed.” Some folks allow dogs but not cats, or some neighborhoods have HOA rules in place on the number of pets and types of pets allowed.
- Make sure you clarify how much it will cost to get into the rental. Most rentals that allow pets will have an additional pet deposit, separate from the standard damage deposit. Other locations may not have an additional deposit, but instead have a higher monthly rental rate, such as $25 extra per pet.
Have Letters of Recommendation Readily Available When Submitting Your Rental Application
- Discussing your plans with your current landlord invites you to be able to ask them for a letter of recommendation when looking for a new place to live.
- Don’t have a great relationship with your current landlord? No problem. If you have dogs, have a dog trainer or veterinarian write a letter describing your dog’s behavior and good health status.
- Consider making a “pet resume” for your pets. Include details about your pet, such as name, breed, characteristics, and vaccination status.
- Has your pet attended any specialized training or obedience classes? Make sure to mention this in their resume. By including a pet resume with your rental application, you will show the prospective landlord what a responsible pet owner you are.
- If you don’t have anyone that could write a letter of recommendation about your pets, offer to have the prospective landlord meet your pets. A lot of the time, landlords worry about the liability with dogs being aggressive and attacking visitors or neighbors. Having them meet your friendly pets will help alleviate this worry.
Be Prepared to Get Personal About Your Pets
- Be ready to show vaccination records for your pets. If you are moving to a multi-family home rather than a house, landlords need to consider public health. Your pet, at the very minimum, should be current on a rabies vaccination (if applicable) to make sure they are not a public health risk.
- Some landlords ask for pictures of pets, usually because folks can be dishonest about their pets. Some towns or larger cities have dog breed restrictions, and the landlord wants to make sure their tenants don’t have a “restricted” breed. In my opinion, how towns can get away with banning certain breeds of pets is incredibly wrong and discriminatory. However, it happens.
- There are certain types of dog breeds “known” for specific traits such as barking, howling, and yes, even biting. Your new landlord wants to take all of that into consideration, as wrong as you may feel about it. Again, having letters of recommendation or having a pet resume could help increase the chances of your new landlord approving of your pets.
Once You Have Found A Place To Live
- Pay attention to the rental agreement you are signing!! Read every detail as sometimes landlords may say it is OK to have pets, but the rental agreement states differently. DO NOT SIGN THE AGREEMENT if something is listed differently than what you discussed.
- Make sure to follow the rules in place regarding your pets. The landlord has a right to evict you if you are violating any laws in your lease agreement.
- Expect it to take a little bit of time for your pet to adapt to their new surroundings. If they suddenly have more free space to wander outside, keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t stray off the property. Make sure your pet has plenty of time to get used to the area before you give them too much free time unattended, inside or outside the house.
- If your new house has neighbors with pets, make sure you are paying close attention when you are going outside with your pets. Not all pets are friendly, and even friendly ones can become aggressive if not properly introduced.
With careful consideration and research, pet owners can find an excellent place to rent. Consider your living dynamics as well as all the options you have available to you before making a quick decision on a new rental. By compiling a realistic list of housing needs for yourself and being prepared to answer some questions about your pets, you will be that much closer to getting into the rental of your dreams. Good luck with your house-hunting!