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Renting With Pets: What to Know Before You Sign a Lease

Considering renting with pets? Read more to learn about renter policies and how to navigate them.

by Kelly Villa, | September 1, 2023

Renting With Pets: What to Know Before You Sign a Lease

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One of the top reasons shelters are given by those who surrender their pets is that they are moving to a place that does not allow pets or due to a landlord’s pet restrictions. It’s true that finding a rental apartment or house when you have pets can take extra time, patience, flexibility, and effort, but isn’t keeping your pets worth it?

With some extra knowledge about how to find a pet-friendly rental or negotiate with your landlord, there’s no reason you can’t find a suitable place to live and keep your pet by your side. Here are some tips for finding your ideal pet-friendly rental so you and your furry family can stay together.

Plan ahead

While sometimes life catches us by surprise with a sudden relocation, the more time you have to plan, the more likely you’ll be able to find your ideal pet-friendly rental. Pet-friendly rentals are often in high demand, so it is important to start your search early.

You can also plan ahead in more unconventional ways — for example, by training your pet or passing the Canine Good Citizen test. You’ll put both you and your pet in a position for success with your new landlord and any other tenants if you’re confident that they will be respectful of others (including not jumping on new people) and have a handle on any behavior that may cause them to be loud (such as separation anxiety). A letter of reference from previous landlords regarding your pet’s good behavior and preparing a pet resume can help too.

How to find a pet-friendly apartment

Before you begin your search for a pet-friendly apartment, you should be aware that you may have to be willing to live in a less desirable location if you want to rent a pet-friendly rental. Also, be aware that most leases have pet restrictions, so even if you find an apartment that doesn’t mention a ban on pets in its listing description, it is important to read the lease carefully before signing it.

That said, even if a lease does not allow pets, you may be able to work with the landlord to get an exception. There are also many great pet-friendly apartments out there — you just need to put in the work to find them.

Where can you find pet-friendly rental listings?

There are a number of sources for finding pet-friendly rental listings, including:

  1. Local animal shelters, humane societies, and rescues: Some organizations maintain printed or online listings of pet-friendly landlords, buildings, or even post pet-friendly vacancies on old-fashioned pushpin bulletin boards.

  2. Local businesses: You can look for rental listings in real estate offices and community centers, as well as your local vet’s office, pet boarding facilities, and pet supply stores.

  3. Rental listing websites: Many rental listing websites allow you to search for listings that allow dogs, cats, or both, such as Peoplewithpets.com. Other traditional rental search websites, such as Zillow.com and Trulia.com, have filters for pet-friendly listings. Even if a site doesn’t have a specific filter, however, you can search listings by keywords such as “pet” “dog,” or “cat” in the search box to find listings that may include phrases such as “dogs ok” or “small pet allowed” in the listing description.

  4. Craigslist: For metropolitan markets (and, increasingly, many rural communities), Craigslist.org is the most well-known (and free) site for listing rentals and may offer more untraditional arrangements (like sublets) that could work well for you and your pet.

What is a pet-friendly lease agreement?

You may find that your lease includes a pet agreement, also known as a pet addendum. This agreement is a document that legally establishes that the landlord is allowing the tenant (in this case, you) to have a pet in their apartment. The agreement, however, usually comes with rules that the tenant must follow, including assuming responsibility for the pet and any damages that they may cause to the property.

Research rental pet agreements

Before you sign a rental pet agreement, make sure to do some research to make sure the agreement you’re signing is reasonable and that you can meet all of its requirements. Pet agreements are legally binding documents, after all.

Sample pet agreements

Most pet agreements are straightforward and reasonable. Take, for instance, this sample pet agreement from California, which requires that tenants essentially take care of and clean up after their pet, do all they can to keep them from being unnecessarily noisy or otherwise disturbing to neighboring tenants, and agree to pay for any damage their pets cause the property.

Research rental pet insurance

When renting with a pet, you may also want to research rental insurance that includes pet liability coverage. Policies vary, but some renter’s insurance policies can cover the costs of fixing damage your pet causes to the property (for example, chewed door frames) and can also help pay for medical expenses if your pet injures a guest in your home.

Commonly asked questions:

Are there any restrictions on the types of pets I can have?

Restrictions will vary from property to property (and landlord to landlord), but it’s not uncommon for some to ban specific breeds considered dangerous (whether that’s true or not). For example, Pit Bulls are often banned because of their (largely unfair) reputation for being dangerous.

What if I want to adopt a pet after moving in?

If your apartment is pet-friendly, you should let your landlord know you are adopting a pet. Even if they allow pets, they may impose a fee or require you to send a pet agreement. If your apartment is not pet-friendly, you may try to convince your landlord to allow you to adopt a particular pet. Ultimately, however, you may have to move to a pet-friendly property.

Can my landlord make me get rid of my pet if it becomes a problem?

Your landlord can’t make you get rid of your dog without going through the proper legal channels. Laws and regulations vary based on where you live and other factors but make sure you know your rights if faced with a threat from your landlord.


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Kelly Villa

Kelly Villa

Kelly Villa is a freelance writer and contributor to various pet publications.