When you’re looking for somewhere to move, it can seem like every rental property has a “no pets” policy. It makes sense that landlords cater to the worst case scenario: they don’t want their property to suffer damage by an untrained pet. But you’re a responsible pet owner.
Don’t despair. If you have a pet, there are still ways to find a pet-friendly place to live.
1. Look for Pet-Friendly Postings
As you search for places to live through online listings, newspaper ads, or through a real estate agent, look for properties that advertise they are pet friendly. If the advertisement doesn’t specify any pet policy, call and ask.
Keep in mind that some places may have specific pet requirements. Perhaps they only allow one cat, or maybe they prefer a certain size dog. Many places charge you a monthly fee to own a pet. This fee covers the cost of any damage your pet may cause. Make sure you’re familiar with all pet policies before signing a lease.
2. Turn to the Pet Community
Who would know better about locating pet-friendly properties than other pet owners and pet lovers? Ask your pet-owning friends if they know of any pet-friendly properties in the area. Also, contact the humane society in the city where you’ll be moving. They may have a list of nearby pet friendly properties.
Finally, consult websites such as PeoplewithPets.com that connect pet owners with pet-friendly properties.
3. Convince the Landlord of Your Responsibility
If you find a place you love that says “no pets,” you may not need to give up hope completely. Try some of the following steps:
- Ask the landlord if he or she would be willing to meet your pet.
- Send in a “resume” for your pet, which includes your pet’s picture and information about his or her personality and obedience training.
- Send a letter from your pet’s vet saying he or she is up-to-date on vaccines.
- Send the landlord a letter from your previous landlord that states you were a responsible renter.
Write an email to the landlord talking about how responsible you are as a pet owner. Talk about steps you take to prevent your pet from damaging the property.
If the landlord still says “no,” don’t push the issue.
4. Find Out If Your Pet Qualifies as an Assistance Animal
Under the Fair Housing Act, landlords should work to accommodate assistance animals. Assistance animals are pets that help people with mental or physical disabilities. Pets can train to:
- Relieve depression and anxiety
- Guide the blind
- Detect seizures
- Detect when blood sugar lowers for diabetics
- Alert the deaf to sounds such as fire alarms, doorbells, and babies crying
To show your landlord you have an assistance animal, you’ll need a letter from your doctor or therapist that states how your pet helps you. Legally, your landlord must make a reasonable accommodation for your assistance animal.
5. Know Your Rights
If your lease does not have a pet policy, that should mean you are allowed to own pets. To make sure, ask your landlord about his or her pet policies before signing the lease.
If your lease doesn’t mention a “no pets” policy, your landlord can’t suddenly change his or her mind later on. Legally, your landlord cannot change the terms of your lease unless you agree. Your landlord also cannot evict you and your pet without going through the appropriate legal process. If you believe your landlord is doing something illegal, seek out community legal services for help.
As you prepare for your move, use these tips to find a pet-friendly rental property. Soon, you’ll find the perfect place for you and your pet.