“Pet ownership has increased 20% since 1988.” By 2021, two thirds of all American homes have come to include pets, and nearly all of those pet owners consider their animals part of the family.
In 2019, Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report found that nearly half of the families who are renting homes own pets, and confirming the wider trend, most renters also see their pets as extended family members.
Do you fall in this category — a home or apartment renter who also owns pets? If you do, then you already know there are challenges to finding the best housing for you and your furry family member. It’s possible that you’ve faced conflict over pet deposits and fees, neighbors not following leash restrictions, and other similar challenges.
What can you do to be sure you find a space that’s welcoming to you and your pet and that will prove to be a safe environment for you both?
1. Do your homework on pet-friendly housing.
Property managers of apartment and home rentals typically state their position up front on their websites and other advertising materials. Don’t see a pet-friendly statement? Definitely ask about it before assuming they’ll be happy to take on you and your pets.
Some questions to ask include:
- What types of pets do you allow? Dogs, cats, fish, exotic animals?
- Are there specific breeds that are not allowed?
- Is more than one pet allowed in one housing unit?
- Do you have a weight restriction for each animal?
- What are the rules for letting pets outside to play in the yard?
- Do you have a list of the property rules concerning pets? May I get a copy of it?
2. Be ready to pay extra for your pets.
Many rental properties require an extra investment from pet owners, and it makes sense that they do. If one of your pets damages the property in any way, the owner can use the pet fees for repairs and upgrades.
You may wonder what kind of fees you can be expected to pay and how much they are. Zillow lays it all out for us — pet deposits, pet fees, and pet rent.
Pet deposits – Something you can expect to get back, provided you and your pets take good care of the space while you rent it. If landlords find any damages when you decide to move, they’ll keep that $200 to $500 deposit you paid and use it to fix anything that needs attention.
Pet fees – Initial payments similar to pet deposit amounts — $200 to $500. The difference in a deposit and fee is that landlords keep the fees, whether you take good care of the place or not. Pet fees are non-refundable.
Pet rent – A monthly cost — usually between $25 and $100 above the stated rental rate — that pet owners pay to cover the cost of a pet living with them.
3. Be sure your pets are well-behaved.
If you’re looking for a place that’s friendly for your pets, chances are you’re not the only one. When you move into a pet-friendly apartment complex, expect to see lots of cats lounging on patios and plenty of dogs running around chasing squirrels and birds.
With all those pets around, it’ll be important for yours to be well behaved, especially if you have a dog that’ll be spending time outdoors around other animals and people. (It’s also important to know if the property you’re renting bans dogs that experts deem dangerous, so check that out before signing a lease agreement!)
Also be sure your animal is comfortable being leashed. If a dog is used to running freely, a leash may seem uncomfortable at first. But part of being a well-behaved, apartment complex pet is the ability to resist jumping on anyone who walks by… and a leash can help with that!
4. Be sure you can prove they’re trained well.
You may be certain your animal would never hurt anyone or anything else, but not everyone else is. And to be honest, some people have had bad experiences with animals earlier in life and feel extremely uncomfortable and afraid around even the calmest pets. So, what can you do to prove your animal knows how to behave?
- The Humane Society offers some tips for showing landlords and others your pets truly know how to handle themselves in public spaces:
- Take your dog to a training class and then have the trainer write a recommendation letter.
- Have a recent landlord write a letter recommending you and your (well-behaved!) pets.
- Get your vet to write a letter explaining how well your pets are cared for along with their vaccine status and affirmation of being spayed or neutered.
- Create a pet ‘resume’ showing off your pets’ good qualities as well as giving some personal history so it’s easy to get to know them through their resume.
5. Review the lease carefully.
When you find a home or apartment you like, it’s easy to get excited and rush through the formalities without taking the time to review specific details. But when you have pets, every detail in the lease matters — from how much the pet fees, deposits, and rent are to what happens if your pet clashes with a neighbor’s unleashed animal somewhere on the premises.
The Humane Society reminds us to review the details carefully:
- If a lease says, “no pets allowed,” don’t sign it even if the property manager dismisses the clause and gives you a verbal agreement that you can have an animal on the property. Only what’s written in the lease matters.
- The same is true for fees. Be sure the lease covers the specifics, and you know exactly how much you’ll need to pay. If you hope to negotiate a lower rate, do so before signing the lease so the amount of any fees is clear and in writing.
If you’re in the market for pet-friendly rental housing, be sure to reach out to the professionals at Gaskill Realty for assistance finding the right fit for you and your furry family members.