Pets and Rentals: How to Broach the Subject With Your Landlord

So, you rent an apartment, house or condo and you want to get a pet? The lease that you signed when you firstmoved in will most likely give you whatever information you need about the pet policy. If not, or if you still have questions, you can reach out to your landlord. However, some landlords are against allowing tenants to have an existing pet or bring a new one into their rental space.

Before you make the choice of buying or adopting a furry friend, communicate with your landlord to be sure you aren’t going against your lease or their wishes and prevent the possibility of conflict. Here are some tips for getting your landlord on the same page when it comes to allowing pets in your rental.  

Talk to the Landlord
This is a great first step, especially before signing a lease. You can discuss your options, whether you already have a pet or if you’re looking to get one. Directly ask if pets are allowed and if there are any restrictions. Some landlords allow only cats, no dogs. Some allow both, with exceptions to specific breeds. If you already own a dog, maybe a shepherd for example, but a rental property only allows small dogs and cats, you may be denied. If you don’t have a dog, but hope to add one to your family in the next year, consider the breed and ask your landlord. 

If you are already signed onto a lease, but unsure of the guidelines, make the call. Even if there are rules laid out in your lease, there is no harm in discussing and renegotiating. 

Prove Yourself
Prior to discussing these terms in a rental you already live in, be sure to have tangible proof that you are not only a great tenant, but will continue to be as a pet owner. Collect references, from the vet, previous landlords, even your neighbors whose dog you watched when they were away. The more backup you have, the better. If a landlord can read a letter from—or have a conversation with—a reliable source that can assure them you are a responsible pet owner, they will be more inclined to allow them. 

Also, providing current credit reports and other paperwork showing you pay bills on time and have a handle on your finances can be a big help. Keeping the property clean, no noise complaints and good relationships with neighbors are also great ways to show that you are a responsible and trusted tenant and will continue to be with a pet.

Ask Them to Meet the Pet
Most animal adoption agencies require or ask that you meet the animal prior to bringing it home. Take this opportunity to invite your landlord to meet the pet you are interested in. Send a link to the website listing and any other information you may have on the animal to your landlord and even create a “pet resume” with images, breed and size expectations, as well as any medical history and obedience training. 

If your landlord sees how much research and care you have taken just to show them this animal, it may also show them the care and attention you will give it once it’s in your home. Remember, asking to meet the animal and providing them with extensive information is not a guarantee that they will allow pets. 

Offer to Pay a Deposit
When landlords decide to allow pets, there is usually some sort of extra deposit needed. Though this varies for each individual landlord, additional monthly charges may be added to your rent, as well as a contract you need to sign making you responsible for all damages and repairs due to your pet. However, if you offer this up first, it may work in your favor. 

If your original lease makes a blanket statement of “no pets allowed” or “security deposit required” with no other details, do some research. Talk to neighbors in your area and even talk to a real estate agent to get a better idea of what an average deposit or additional monthly payment looks like. Offer this to your landlord to show that you are willing to pay them more to add a new member to your family. 

Under no circumstances should you try to sneak a pet without discussing it with your landlord. If your lease strictly states that no pets are allowed or that written consent from the landlord is needed, you can be legally required to get rid of your pet, end your lease or get evicted, losing any and all security deposits.

Though you may not get the answer or solution you had hoped for, there are many other rentals out there that will allow a furry friend. 

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