Lack of pet-friendly housing is a major reason for pet relinquishment — in fact, lack of pet-friendly housing is the No. 1 reason pets are given up according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, with 43 percent of renters claiming relinquishment was due to landlord issues.
Worse, not all pets-allowed housing is the same — some may only allow small dogs or cats only or have restrictions on certain breeds. Moving with pets can be hard and expensive, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time to prepare, do your research and save.
That said, as an almost lifelong renter with multiple pets, there are a few tricks of the trade I’ve picked up along the way that make finding pet-friendly housing easier. (Then check out these 7 tips for making your home feel safe for your dog and tips for introducing your cat to a new space.)
1. Start early
Seldom do we have to pick up and move without much notice. Give yourself more than a month ahead of moving to do your research and save up money in case you have extra expenses, such as a refundable pet deposit.
2. Do your research
Websites like Craigslist, Realtor.com, PeoplewithPets.com, etc. can give you a good place to start. You may even find local Facebook groups dedicated to rental/landlord information. The Humane Society of the United States provides lists of pet-friendly rentals throughout the states, which can be a great place to start.
3. Ask around
You’d be surprised how much information your circle has if you ask the right questions. Friends and pet professionals may have tips about who are pet-friendly landlords. Dr. Christie Long, chief veterinarian of PetCoach, reminds us “veterinarians and their staff tend to always have pets, and often multiple pets! So it stands to reason that they would have personal experience with living in places that were or were not pet-friendly.” Chances are your vet wants you to keep parenting Fido, so pick their brains for suggestions and ideas.
The Humane Society recommends you “contact the humane society or animal care and control agency serving the area into which you are moving; the agency may be able to provide you with a list of apartment communities that allow pets. If you know any real estate agents, rental agents or resident managers who own pets themselves or who share your love of animals, ask them for leads.”
4. Pitch your pet
No, not like that. We want you to keep parenting your beloved pet! Just remember, landlords are people too and may be on the fence about pets — this is more likely with individual or coupled landlords, whereas larger apartment complexes may be less likely to break or bend a rule for one renter. If you have a potential landlord on the fence about pets, let them know how having a pet-friendly unit actually benefits them, especially where it counts — in the bank.
FIREPAW, Inc. did an interesting national study on pet-friendly rentals and discovered, on average, a whopping $2,731 average net benefit per unit allowing pets. Check out the entire study here for ideas on how it can benefit the specific landlord you are negotiating with.
5. Show yourself to be responsible
Part of an effective pitch will include you proving yourself a responsible pet parent. Long says she has written letters on behalf of her patients before. “If a tenant could present a statement of health from a veterinarian or a letter from the veterinarian stating that the pet is well cared for, that could potentially sway a landlord to rent to a pet owner. However, it might not seal the deal in all cases, especially in close quarters such as apartment buildings, where landlords are likely more concerned about noise from barking than they are from potential disease transmission.”
Many landlords ask for pet references when considering renting property to an individual or family with pets. A written reference from your vet can go a long way. “People who routinely care for their animals [with regular checkups, grooming, etc.] tend to be more attentive pet owners,” Long continues, “and I believe more likely to provide the kind of attention to their pets that would lessen the chance that the pet would be a nuisance or do damage to the landlord’s property.”
A no-pet policy could have been implemented after a bad experience with a pet parent. If you find yourself with such a landlord, showing them you are responsible and your pet is a great animal can go a long way in swaying the landlord to go pet-friendly once more.
6. Be willing to pay a refundable pet deposit
There is no way around it. Pets can cause damage to rental properties and landlords have the responsibility (and right) to ensure they can cover any damage once you move out. The deposit gives them a sense of security, so be willing to pay it because most likely, you’ll need to. The good news is it’s usually refundable. All (or some) will probably come back your way.
7. Talk to your vet
There are legal obligations if moving with your pet across state lines. “It’s a USDA requirement that any animal that crosses state lines must have a certificate from a veterinarian that it is 1.) healthy and 2.) vaccinated against rabies. The same requirement extends to international travel as well, but the requirements differ based on what country the pet is traveling to/from,” Long states. Essentially, the new state needs to know there is no contagious disease and rabies is up-to-date. (Learn more about traveling with your dog.)
And while you’re with your vet, it would be a great time to discuss potential stressors on your pet during the move. You’ll want to be well-informed so you can monitor behavior closely during this transition.
What should I do once I’m in my new place?
You worked hard to find a great new home, so you want to make sure you get off on the right foot. Get to know your neighbors once you move in. Being open and making sure “they understand that you want to know if they are experiencing any problems with having your pet in the neighborhood so that you can address their concerns before they escalate,” as Long suggests, is imperative to creating a healthy new home for everyone involved. Become a model tenant — minimize barks, pick up Fido’s poop, clean the litter box often. This could go a long way in creating a receptive community that offers more pet-friendly housing in your neighborhood.
Have a question about moving with pets? Ask the experts at PetCoach below.