Being a pet parent is a challenging but wonderful responsibility. Unfortunately, that responsibility can become even more of a challenge if you do not own the place where you are living. If you live in a rental unit, you probably are subjected to rules and restrictions related to pets. Finding and keeping a rental unit that accepts pets can be difficult, but there are a few simple tips you can follow to make things easier on yourself and your furry friend.
Tips for Finding Rental Housing
If you already have a pet, you have no choice other than to search out a rental unit that accepts pets. Finding the right place can be difficult because the rules and restrictions will vary from one landlord to another. Some landlords have no problem with cats, but they do not allow dogs. Other landlords do allow dogs, but only certain breeds or certain sizes. When looking for pet-friendly rental housing, keep these tips in mind:
- Start your search as early as possible – you do not want to be in a rush and end up paying more than necessary for a pet-friendly rental.
- Reach out to your local animal rescue organization or shelter for suggestions of pet-friendly housing options.
- Look online and in a community apartment guidebook (available in most supermarkets) for pet-friendly listings.
- Have a letter of reference from your previous landlord to show your new landlord that you are a good tenant and that your pet won’t cause any problems.
- Invite your new landlord to meet your pet and provide any references you can – a certificate from obedience classes, an up-to-date vaccination record from the vet, etc.
Legal Issues to Consider When Renting
Once you’ve found a rental unit that allows pets, you still need to take a few precautions before you sign on the dotted line. Go over the lease in great detail to make sure you understand everything, and to ensure that there aren’t any hidden rules in there. At the very least, make sure that the lease doesn’t say, “No pets allowed” – ideally, it should be written in the lease that you CAN have pets. You also need to check to see whether an additional deposit or monthly fee will be charged to keep a pet and whether those amounts can be negotiated.
In addition to taking the precautions discussed above, you should also take the time to learn your rights as a tenant. Generally, if the lease does not state that pets are not allowed (especially if they aren’t mentioned at all), it is within your rights to keep a pet. A lease is a contract so it cannot be changed unless both sides agree and the contract is signed – this means that your landlord can’t change the lease to say pets are not allowed unless you agree and sign the new lease. Keep in mind that there are certain exceptions for keeping pets in rental units that technically do not allow them – assistance animals, for example, cannot be excluded. If your landlord does try to evict you or your pet, make sure that you seek legal help before taking any action yourself.
As long as you take the time to do your research and find a place that accepts pets, keeping a pet in a rental property is entirely do-able. Just make sure you are aware of any rules and restrictions that might apply – things like breed exclusions, size or number limitations. You should also be prepared to pay a little extra to keep a pet, though not all landlords will require a pet fee or deposit. If you ever have trouble with a landlord or condominium association regarding your pet, reach out to free local legal assistance groups for help.