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7 Tips For Finding A Pet-Friendly Rental

Searching for pet-friendly housing but it’s slim pickings? Reading this should be your first move.

by Lindsay Hamrick, CPDT-KA
November 3, 2021
Photo of brown pit bull dog laying on couch with another white pitbull and owner blurred in the background
Jennifer Bogle / Stocksy

Your pet wants you to read our newsletter. (Then give them a treat.)

If you’re struggling to find an affordable, pet-friendly rental, you’re not alone. Seventy percent of Americans have at least one pet, according to the latest American Pet Products Association survey, and the majority of pet owners are renters (about 72%). Combine this with an unstable rental market that’s driving up prices, a lack of safe rental housing in the U.S. to meet the demand, discriminatory breed bans by insurance companies and property owners alike, and an eviction crisis that may put 10 million pets at risk of being separated from their families, and you can quickly see how housing tops the list of reasons pets are surrendered to shelters or rehomed to family and friends. 

As someone who moved 11 times in 11 years with two large dogs and a cat, I feel your pain. If it wasn’t the size limits on dogs, it was an expensive “pet rent” — a euphemism property owners use to jack up your monthly rent, or it was a pet limit that would allow two animals if the total weight was under 50 pounds. I jokingly looked at one of my dogs and let him know we’d be starting his diet the next day. (And while we’re 100% pro-pet parents here, we can also understand why property owners may be hesitant to rent to someone with three pups or a herd of cats.) The key in securing a pet-friendly rental is a combination of sheer luck and meeting property owners where they are. Here are some tips to help you get there. 

Remember How Insanely Popular Pets Are 

Statistically speaking, it’s likely most property owners have a pet of their own. With so many of us enjoying the love and hilarity of dogs and cats, your future landlord can empathize with why your pup must be allowed in your next rental. Ask why they’re hesitant; did they have an irresponsible tenant in the past that caused damage? Have they had complaints from other tenants about allergies? Getting to the root of the “no” can help you craft a solution-oriented plan. Offer to leave a slightly higher deposit that would be returned to you if the rental is in good shape when you leave. Bring an air purifier and keep up with your pet’s grooming needs to reduce the dander that might make its way to a shared hallway. 

Make A Pet Resume

Include your pet’s name, age, training accomplishments, health report, your daily routine, how you’ll prevent destructive and nuisance behavior (are they crate- or litter-box trained, how often are they exercised, how committed are you to picking up dog poo), and some things that make your pet unique and loveable. A Canine Good Citizen test can be an excellent way to show a landlord that your pup has obedience skills and can handle walking near people and other dogs without any fanfare.  

Have References On Hand

Nothing — and we mean nothing — is more effective than previous landlords telling a future landlord what an awesome tenant you and your pet are. Ask them if you can give their number to future landlords or write you a letter. Next, hit up your veterinarian and ask for a copy of your pet’s records and a recommendation that tells the story of how hard you work to keep your pet healthy. Lastly, ask friends, pet sitters, dog walkers, trainers, groomers, boarding facilities — anyone who knows your pet — to talk about their awesome qualities. 

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Get Renter’s Insurance

One of the biggest barriers to moving with a dog who is labeled as a Pit Bull-type dog (or Rottweiler, Doberman, or Shepherd) is a finger-pointing blame game between a property owner and their homeowner’s insurance. While there are insurance companies that don’t discriminate against breeds (like State Farm) this is an easy out for a landlord who doesn’t want your pup in their rental. While renter’s insurance is a good idea regardless of the breed of dog you have, it adds additional protection should something happen. 

DNA Test Your Dog

This can be an extension of renter’s insurance, but if your dog is a mix (and most of them are) and has that delicious blocky headed thing going for them, get a Wisdom Panel DNA test done and bring the results to potential landlords, particularly if they show little or none of the dog breeds that are traditionally discriminated against. 

Prepare Talking Points

Landing a great rental can be a lot like politics, and it’s important to be prepared and practiced. Hit on the right points when you respond to rental ads: Be professional and proactive. List your pets and their attributes, and be sure to mention the references you’ve collected. Offer solutions instead of begging for exceptions. 

Expand Your Search

If you’ve run out of options in the pet-friendly section of your search, start writing to landlords who have listed “no pets” in their ads. When I had reached the end of the Craigslist listings in my area, I sent a pet resume to a dozen landlords who were adamant they wouldn’t allow pets. Three of them agreed to a phone interview, two agreed to show me their properties, and I signed a lease with the one whose ad said, “no pets, no exceptions, don’t ask.” If you go this route, be polite, don’t pester if they don’t respond, and be ready to answer their concerns with solutions. 

Looking for pet-friendly housing can be stressful, even more so if you need to stay in a certain area for your job or family, need to live near public transportation, or are on a limited budget. If all else fails, be thinking about friends and family, or even a foster parent through your local shelter, who might be able to provide temporary fostering while you continue your search.

Lindsay Hamrick, CPDT-KA

Lindsay Hamrick lives in New Hampshire with her three dogs, chickens, and an assortment of rotating foster animals. She forces her elderly chihuahua, Grandma Baguette, on overnight backpacking trips, can diaper a lamb with one hand, and while she’s a long-time Certified Professional Dog Trainer, 66.7% of her dogs still won’t lay down when asked.