Owning a pet can bring joy and contentment to nearly every part of your life—unless you’re in the market for a new rental.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, a pet cat, dog, or other animal may severely reduce possible living options for you, either due to building policies or a landlord’s specific preference. But this shouldn’t keep you from either getting a pet or finding pet-friendly rentals.
There are resources available to help pet-owners find rentals that will work, and you can take some extra steps to narrow your search. These five hacks may help you find the best, most affordable rental available to you, without having to compromise on your fuzzy roommate.
1. Be honest about your needs
It may be easier to sacrifice some wants and desires for a great apartment when you’re on your own, or even with a partner, but pets bring a separate set of requirements into the mix. You may need a rental with extra space for your pet, rules that allow a larger animal or more than one cat or dog, or a rental near a park for early morning walks. Additionally, features that you might find attractive on your own, such as living in a busy and bustling neighborhood, might become deal breakers if the noise keeps your dog barking into the night.
Make a list of your absolute requirements before you begin your search so that you don’t waste time viewing apartments that won’t work for you or your four-legged friend.
2. Account for extra costs
If you’re getting a pet before finding a new apartment, you’ll need to be prepared for some extra costs. Not only does having a pet eliminate a substantial number of rental options with no-pet policies, it’s also likely to incur a “pet deposit” or monthly pet fee in addition to your rent.
Keep this in mind during your apartment search so that you’re viewing spaces you can actually afford with the additional fee factored in. Even if the deposit or fee isn’t a huge jump in your budget, it’s still something you need to be prepared for, as it will add to the other costs for owning a pet, such as food, boarding when you’re away, and veterinary care. You may be able to shrink your budget in other ways to accommodate a fee for a great apartment, but don’t let it stretch your finances too thin.
3. Use your resources
Many cities have online rental databases specifically for pet owners, which you can look through, but some in-person searching may help you find even more great pet-friendly rentals.
Friends with pets may be able to make recommendations and offer information to further narrow your search, such as which neighborhoods or rental companies have the best perks or are the most pet-friendly. Area pet stores and grooming centers may also be helpful resources.
4. Make the case for yourself
Once you’ve viewed a few places and are close to applying for one, you don’t want anything to cause a delay. Make sure your pet is up-to-date on vaccinations and be able to prove it with paperwork. It is important to present yourself as a responsible owner.
A previous landlord who can vouch for you and your pet might be helpful, as could another personal reference if you’re only just now getting the pet. If a landlord is close to approving you and your pet as tenants, having the money for a pet deposit ready upfront, similar to a security deposit, might be another way to show them that you are dependable.
5. Prepare for rejection
Landlords and rental managers have reason to be cautious when taking tenants with pets, so even if you take all of these steps, you might still get passed up for a non-pet renter. Though a reported 70% of renters own pets, nearly the same number report having difficulties finding a pet-friendly rental.
Becoming a pet owner means making this animal a part of your life. If the two (or three!) of you were meant to be together, make finding the perfect home for you and your furry family member a priority. You can begin planning several months ahead of time, viewing as many apartments as it takes until you find the perfect one.
The search may not be easy, but relaxing in your new home with your pet by your side will surely be worth it.