Perhaps you’re considering adopting an animal for the first time. (They bring joy to your everyday life! They increase life expectancy!) Maybe you already have a much-loved pet, but you’re thinking of moving to a new home. (You’re embarking on a new journey! You’d like more space!)
However, if you’re a renter, your decision-making will be a bit different than that of a homeowner. Here are a few things to consider:
New companion, old domicile
If you have no desire to move out of your place but you’d like to adopt an animal, thoroughly read your lease agreement to make sure it’s allowed. If it is, or if it’s not specifically forbidden, check with your landlord to see if there are any restrictions on the type of animal (i.e., cats only) or breed (i.e., small dogs only), and if you’ll need to pay an additional security deposit.
Once you’ve cleared your new family member with your landlord, ask them to provide a new lease that reflects the new resident and any associated fees. In addition, consider the benefits of pet health insurance as you consider adoption and rental locations.
Before you commit to adopting, be sure to consider the size of your current home. Apartments and small houses with little to no yards are better suited to cats and mature dogs or small, less active dogs, whereas larger houses with yards or access to nearby parks are conducive to puppies who will need to be potty trained and larger, more active dogs.
A quick note for those who already share their lives with pets in a rental: Keep up the good work! Please remain respectful of the property and continue working with your pets to not disturb your neighbors!
Forever friend, new house
If you’re an existing pet owner and looking for a new rental, our first piece of advice is to take your time researching. You want to make sure you find the right fit for your entire family—both the two-legged and four-legged members. Search specifically for animal-friendly listings, and don’t be afraid to ask friends, family, and members of your social media circles to keep their eyes peeled for a good fit.
Create a resume for your pet that focuses on their best attributes. Include a photo (the cuter, the better!), any certifications or written proof of training they’ve done (classes, etc.), and their adoption story, all the better to tug on those heartstrings. If you can get a letter of reference from your current landlord, that would be ideal, and include a letter from your vet showing that your pet is current on their vaccinations to alleviate any concerns.
You may also want to invite your prospective landlord to meet your pet to further help put their mind at ease. Be prepared and willing to pay an additional deposit, assuming it’s for a reasonable amount. (This can vary from state to state, but is generally in the $250 to $500 range.)
If your furry friend is a feline or a canine of the smaller variety (and already potty trained), you can include apartments in your search. But if they’re a puppy or large, active dog, you’ll need a house with a yard or close proximity to a park (and a flexible schedule to take them there).
Read your new lease thoroughly
Once you’ve found the perfect place to hang your hat (and leash), don’t forget to read your new lease thoroughly before signing. Never sign a lease that says, “no pets,” regardless of what the landlord has said verbally. Additionally, make sure pet deposits or fees are spelled out in the lease, and don’t forget to keep a signed copy for yourself. Although most landlords are trustworthy, you don’t want to take that for granted and end up in a difficult situation.
Now that these details have been handled, all that’s left is to wish you happy cohabitating with your newest friend!