If you are a pet-owning renter who is looking for a new place to live, you might have run into landlord resistance to having your furry friend as a roommate.
In truth, landlords have some basis for concern since some pets can be destructive. But if you have a well-trained, housebroken or litter-trained dog or cat, there isn't reason your pet should cause any more damage and wear and tear than you, as a renter, would.
According to Carolyn McKibbin, MyMove.com's editorial director, "moving is the number one reason pet owners have to give up their pets." Nearly 40 million Americans change residences every year, so there's a lot of potential for pet-related moving problems. McKibbin offers the following advice for renting a new place with your pet.
Letters of reference about your pet give the landlord an opportunity to learn about your pet.
- Get references from a previous landlord. When you fill out your apartment rental application, include a letter of reference from your last landlord indicating how you and your pet left the apartment or house.
- Get references from your pet sitter. A letter from your pet sitter can show how involved you are in your pet's life. Hiring a pet sitter shows that you take responsibility for your pet even when you aren't with your pet.
- Get references from your veterinarian. Your vet can indicate what type of personality your dog or cat has as well as show documentation that the animal is up-to-date on required shots. This letter can also indicate medical procedures such as spaying/neutering (always the responsible thing to do as a pet owner). A neutered male dog is less likely to try to dig out of the backyard, and a neutered male cat is less likely to spray. Plus, a letter from your vet shows that you are responsible enough to care for your dog's health.
Additionally, McKibbin recommends getting a reference from "anyone who knows your pet well to indicate that it is potty trained, doesn't bark, etc." Get an endorsement of your dog's good personality "to help you plead your case," she says.
If your pet excels in obedience training or knows some amusing tricks, send your prospective landlord a video of your pet showing its skills. "It helps to establish a bond between your perspective landlord and your pet," McKibbin says.
McKibbin says that offering a damage deposit and additional rent might sway your prospective landlord's decision. "$200 is a good negotiation amount," she says. Also offer a small additional sum per month in rent; for example, $10. "It shows you that you are willing to put your money where your mouth is," McKibbin says.
A prospective landlord might request that your dog be insured. Check with your homeowner's policy; some breeds might be denied coverage. According to McKibbin, in some states and under some instances, landlords might be held liable for their tenants' dogs if the dog does harm to another. Check with your insurance provider to determine the situation in your state.
Too many pets end up in shelters because their owners have to move. Your relationship with your pet should make it worth the extra time and effort it takes to find rental place that will allow you to take it with you. Taking your pet to a shelter should be a last resort.