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6 Tips for apartment hunting with pets

Rose Hamilton is EVP and Chief Pet Parenting Expert for Pet360, the leading network of online resources for pet parents.

Apartment hunting is stressful, but trying to find an apartment when you have a pet is enough to make moving back home with your parents seem like a good idea. Finding pet-friendly rentals, understanding special deposits and picking the perfect location can seem overwhelming. Take a deep breath; it's all going to be okay.

Follow these simple tips and you and your pet will be living large in a brand new abode in no time.

1. Seek out pet-friendly buildings or companies

Instead of trying to convince a landlord to rent you an apartment on a case-by-case basis, limit your search to known pet-friendly buildings or rental companies in your city. These companies and buildings will have specific pet policies in place and will make it clear about what they expect from pet-owning tenants.

Reach out to local real estate companies and animal care facilities to see if they can provide you with a list of pet-friendly rentals in your area. The Humane Society also has a great online resource for tracking down apartments that can accommodate animals. Sticking to well-known, pet-friendly listings will take the guesswork out of your search.

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2. Start your search early

Because rentals that allow pets are in high demand and the inventory tends to be limited, make sure to give yourself plenty of time to find the right apartment for you and your four-legged family members. Begin your search at least six weeks in advance, or better yet, give yourself two full months. This will put you in a better position for scooping up your dream apartment when it becomes available.

3. Look for pet-friendly amenities

Once you zone in on a few housing options, begin to think about the types of pet-friendly amenities that are in the building or nearby. Are there parks and green space? Is it close to your vet? Does the building have lots of pet-owning residents? Are elevators available for pets who don't do well with stairs? All of these questions can ultimately help you make a final decision.

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4. Prepare for fees and restrictions

Even if you do locate a pet-friendly building or rental company, you'll likely have to pay extra money if you have a pet. Many places require an added security deposit for a dog or cat, while others will tack on an extra monthly fee for your four-legged friend.

Restrictions on the type of pet you can have might also come up in your search. Some rentals only allow dogs under 25 or 50 pounds. Others, as unfair as it may seem, don’t accept certain breeds. The landlord might also have a one-pet policy, so take that into consideration if you're thinking about adopting another pet in the future. Understanding these fees and restrictions before you fall in love with a place will save you from potential heartbreak down the road.

woman with dog and house contract

Photo credit: www.patrickbraun.net/Moment/Getty Images

5. Promote your pet

If you get called for a job interview, you always go in with a resume, samples of your work, and the proper preparation to answer tough questions. Think about apartment hunting as a similar situation. But this time, highlight your pet's qualifications.

It's helpful to demonstrate that your dog or cat is a well-behaved resident. Have former neighbors that liked your furry companion write letters of recommendation. Be prepared to show vaccine documentation and vet records. And get ready to highlight or speak about your dog or cat's special talents. If you make the landlord love your pet as much as you do, your rental application has a better shot at getting approved.

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6. Ask for everything in writing

Verbal agreements are great, but before you sign your name on a lease, make sure you get all policies, requirements and expectations about your pet in writing from your landlord. Include your pet's name, breed and size so that no disputes can be made about your pet at a later date. Don't forget to clarify the types of things that will result in you losing your pet deposit or actions that could potentially lead to eviction. It's also a good idea to double check your lease to make sure nothing in the rental agreement conflicts with the policies promised by your landlord.

Once you have all the written documentation that allows you to have your pet in your apartment, put the paperwork in a safe (and memorable) spot so that you can access it quickly if a problem arises in the future.

Hopefully this advice will lead you to the doorstep of your dream apartment. Just make sure your four-legged roommate wipes his paws on the welcome mat before making himself at home.

Photo credit: Westend61/Getty Images

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