Everything You Need to Know About Renting a House With Pets
We all love our furry friends and want to take them whenever we move into a new home. In many cases, we decide to adopt a new pet after we've moved into a rental. However, not all landlords welcome our pets from the get-go. That's not to say they won't change their minds. It does mean there are some steps you may need to take to get your landlord to change the no-pets allowed policy to a "pets are welcome" clause. Here's what you need to know about renting with pets.
Search for a pet-friendly rental property
The best way to ensure your pet can move in with you into new rental housing is to find a rental that welcomes pets. This means you may need to start searching for a new place earlier than planned.
Giving yourself plenty of time to find a rental home that allows a pet could provide the opportunity to lock down a place that welcomes pet owners. The less time you have to look for another home, the harder it could be to find pet-friendly rentals.
Improve your odds of renting with pets
If the landlord or property manager is uncertain about allowing an animal to live with you, or even when finding places that allow pets, there are steps pet owners should take to shine a positive light on their animals as the best pets for rentals. These could go a long way in putting out the welcome mat for your animal.
Find out if there are any animal or breed restrictions
Many landlords have restrictions on what animals they will allow to live on their properties. For example, when it comes to a dog, many landlords may impose a weight limit (such as no more than 30 pounds) or breed restriction, such as no pit bulls or other breeds. Or, they may limit the number of pets, such as no more than two cats.
Some local housing laws may include restrictions on what pets you can have, so check those out beforehand, as well. They usually override any restrictions a landlord or property manager has in place.
Some landlords also may prohibit birds, reptiles, hamsters, fish or other animals. Always find out the landlord's pet policies before moving forward with a rental agreement.
See if you must spay or neuter your pet
It's not uncommon for landlords or property managers to require tenants to spay or neuter all dogs and cats before they can move in. Be prepared to show your landlord documents from your vet that prove you have spayed or neutered your pet. It's also a good idea to show documentation that your animal has all the necessary shots.
Introduce your pet to the landlord
A great way to reassure your landlord or property manager that your pet is well-behaved is to let them meet your beloved animal. Showing them that your animal is house-trained, doesn't act badly around strangers and lives well indoors could go a long way in having the landlord accept your pet. Also, if your dog completed obedience training, show a certificate of completion for the class as additional proof of how well-behaved your dog is.
Provide pet references
Another way to show you are a responsible pet owner is by providing references from previous landlords or property managers stating you and your pet were good tenants.
Once the landlord approves your pet, get it in writing
If you can welcome your pet into your new home, make sure you document all the details of the arrangement in your rental lease. In fact, you want to look for these specific terms:
Negotiate a pet deposit
It's not uncommon for landlords to require pet deposits to cover any possible damage that a pet could do. Some landlords charge a single pet fee along with your security deposit, while others may charge a monthly pet deposit. Make sure to list the amount and payment terms in the rental agreement.
Document any specifics about your pet(s)
The rental agreement should spell out which animals can move in with you. Make sure it states any size limits, restrictions on types, or the maximum number of pets you can have.
Be a responsible pet owner
Once you move into your new home, you and your pet should do all you can to remain good tenants. This includes:
- Making sure your dog doesn't make a lot of noise, including incessant barking
- Cleaning up after your pet, both in your home and in public spaces
- Ensuring your pet plays well with other pets
- Reporting and repairing any damage your pet causes in the home or any public spaces
Know your rights if you get a new landlord
Sometimes, the property owner may sell the rental home where you live, bringing in a new property management company or landlord. As a result, the new owner or landlord may want to end previous "pets welcome" policies. However, this doesn't mean you and your pet must find a new place to live immediately.
First and foremost, the new landlord or property manager cannot evict you just because you have a pet. They're required by local laws to honor the existing rental agreement. One party of a lease or rental agreement can't unilaterally make changes. Both parties must agree to all changes.
Second, the landlord or property manager cannot enter the home to remove you or your pet without cause. As long as you both are adhering to all rules of the lease and are good tenants, the landlord or property manager must follow the law, including the lease terms, before evicting you. This is one reason why it's so important to include language in the lease stating you and your pet can stay until the lease expires.
Third, if someone tries to evict you and your pet, seek legal advice from an attorney experienced in dealing with tenants renting with pets. They'll be your best defense in staying in your home with your beloved animal.
Fourth, if you feel the landlord violated your rights, you can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Don't have a pet yet?
Maybe you're looking for a new rental home and think you may want a cat or other animal after moving in. Following the above steps will go a long way in making sure your new friend is welcome in your home. That includes making sure your lease or rental agreement contains all the policies for having an animal in your home. Laying the groundwork before bringing a new animal home is crucial to ensuring you both are welcome.
Renting with pets is possible
Having a beloved pet as a roommate is a living arrangement many tenants want. To make it a reality, be sure to search for properties that allow renting with pets and get all animal policies in writing to improve your odds of living with your pet for the duration of your lease. And, above all, make sure you and your pet are good tenants.