We love our animals. Pets are bona fide, highly valued members of the family -- sometimes more so than the human members -- but not all rental buildings feel so warm and fuzzy about four-legged tenants. Despite the fact that an estimated 72% of renters have pets, many landlords simply don't allow dogs or cats. And that puts animal lovers in a pickle over how to find pet-friendly apartments.
Where can you turn to find places that lay out the welcome mat for creatures great and small? These steps will point you in the right direction.
Filter for pet-friendly apartments
Luckily, certain rentals embrace pets! Here's how to start finding them:
- On searchable rental listing sites such as realtor.com, narrow your hunt through filters. Check first for apartments in any area that have indicated that they are fine with renters having cats or dogs -- or both. Note that some apartments may be open specifically to one or the other, but not to all types of pets.
- The Humane Society " Pets Are Welcome" database lets you search by location and includes listings of pet-friendly properties in more than 22 states.
- PeopleWithPets.com is a free service directing readers to pet-friendly apartments available in 59 U.S. cities.
How to present your pets to landlords
Many management companies are wary of welcoming pets due to the potential for tenants griping about noise, property damage, dog bites, or worse. But not your pet, right? If your dog or cat is a model of animal behavior, ease your landlord's anxiety with a positive introduction:
- Provide letters of reference from past landlords detailing how you're a responsible pet owner. Yes, we're serious.
- If you have a dog, show that the pooch has proven good behavior with a training class certificate.
- Ask your veterinarian to write a letter on your behalf -- and include documentation that your pet has been spayed or neutered and vaccinated.
- Craft a resume for your pet, complete with photo, certifications, explanation of the arrangements made to care for your pet while you're at work, and a personal story. And yeah, we're still serious. Petfinder.com reports that a "prospective tenant in a dog-friendly but cat-shy building attached a resume for her two cats to her application and convinced the property management to accept them on the spot."
Pony up some extra money
"Many landlords hold insurance policies with carriers who discriminate against larger breeds of dogs, including German shepherds, huskies, pit bulls, and others," says Donna Reynolds, executive director of the nonprofit Bad Rap.org. "So resourceful renters are buying their own renter's insurance policies that cover their dogs to help open doors for their well-behaved pets."
Here are other ways pet owners can grease the wheels:
- Offer to pay an extra security deposit to compensate for any damage your furry friend may make to the property.
- Be prepared to pay a pet fee, typically between $200 and $500, or a refundable pet deposit (in addition to your security deposit) upon lease signing.
- Brace yourself for a possible recurring monthly " pet rent" charge from property managers to cover cleaning. Average amount? Anywhere from $50 to $100.
Read the fine print
If a lease doesn't mention pets, it's generally understood that you're allowed to have them. But if you want to avoid drama and potential nightmares down the road, you should ask for clarification in writing.
And never sign a lease that specifies "no pets allowed" even if the landlord or other neighbors tell you it's totally OK. It would mean you're violating your lease, which could come back and bite you down the road.
Watch: 4 Pets You Never Knew You Could Have in Your Home