Animals are our best friends. They comfort us and offer up companionship during our busy lives. However, the rental market offers up frustrating conundrums on renting with pets. It can be frustrating trying to find a home as a pet owner, but more and more renters are discovering loopholes to get themselves and their four-legged companions the rented abode of their dreams.
In this article, we will be looking at some of the most common pet restrictions and discuss just how you can get around common breed restrictions safely and legally.
So, how to get around pet restrictions when renting? Getting around pet and breed restrictions as a renter involves being well prepared and polite at all times. With a pet resume, extra pet deposit or pet rent saved up, and a willingness to register your pet as an emotional support animal, you just might persuade your landlord to make an exception.
The Most Common Pet-Related Rental Restrictions
“Sorry, no pets!”
It’s beyond discouraging to see some form of this wording across rental adverts everywhere. Don’t they know little Timmy is on his best behavior and wouldn’t ever dare scratch the new linoleum floors with his paws? With only 55% of all landlords allowing pets in their properties, the search can be long and arduous.
The most common pet rental restrictions:
- No Pets: this one is straightforward. There aren’t any pets allowed on this property.
- Amount of Pets: a common restriction is based around the tenant not getting any more pets than they moved in with. Understandable that a landlord who agrees to one pet bunny doesn’t want to discover a hidden menagerie of pets in your apartment.
- Breed Restrictions: for the most part, breed restrictions only apply to dog breeds. Landlords frequently disqualify pet owners from renting their properties when they own breeds classified as high risk due to size or (perceived) aggressive behavior. Some of the most common species you’ll run into this problem with are Pit Bulls, German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers, Rottweilers, Boxers, Akitas, Malamutes, and other large dog breeds.
Don’t despair; just because the rental market can feel bleak when faced with no pet and breed restrictive policies doesn’t mean there aren’t tips and tricks to help get you around them, which we’ll cover below.
That said, we don’t recommend trying to hide your pets from a landlord that can’t be convinced to allow pets. Whether your landlord learns about your unauthorized pet from a neighbor, or even from maintenance reporting a pet in your apartment, they will find out eventually and both you and your pet risk eviction once this happens.
4 Ways to Get Around Pet Restrictions When Renting
#1: Ask Nicely
How to get around a no-pet policy can be as simple as picking up the phone. Just because you read no pets allowed on a rental advertisement doesn’t mean that you can’t very politely ask if they’d be willing to make an exception for your particular pet. This is especially useful when you have a previous rental history with the pet and can attest to them not breaking anything or causing any damage to your previous rentals.
#2: Create a Pet Resume
Put your creative skills to good use and create a resume of your pet’s best qualities. Rather than waiting to be asked for one, it can be a great way to melt even the hardest landlord heart and be let into that incredible two-bedroom in the area close to work.
What to include in your pet resume:
- introduce your pet by their name and age because a fully-grown, well-trained dog is a different rental story than a puppy
- breed information, highlight any positive attributes of the breed
- weight and size, because chances are a miniature dachshund can do minor potential damage compared to a German Shepherd
- how quiet your pet is
- health summary detailing regular flea treatment
- training documents such as classes and other extracurriculars
- a reference from a previous landlord detailing how the pet didn’t contribute to wear and tear or was very well-behaved
- a photo of them looking their best
- your day-to-day routine, if you work from home and are available to care for the pet and prevent damage, it’s a plus
- updated vet records showing that your pet is healthy and properly cared for
#3: Offer to Pay an Extra Pet Deposit
Offer to pay an additional pet deposit to help put any potential damage right. An offer like this from the tenant shows that they’re sure their pet is responsible and gives the landlord peace of mind.
Important note: not all states allow additional pet deposits, and landlords in those states may only be able to recuperate any losses by charging pet rent. If you have your heart set on a particular apartment, it may be worth paying a little bit of extra pet rent.
#4: Offer to Pay an Extra Pet Fee
Let’s do a quick empathy masterclass. Picture yourself as your future landlord. What are you worried about happening to your apartment after the tenant moves out? Pet dirt and fleas? Yikes.
Approach your landlord and offer to pay a pet fee, which is different from a deposit because it is a one-time, non-refundable fee to pay for things like a professional cleaning and pest control service.
How to Get Around Dog Breed Restrictions when Renting
While all of the above ways of avoiding pet restrictions also apply to breed restrictions while renting, there are extra tips that are especially helpful if you own a so-called ‘breed restricted’ or ‘aggressive’ dog.
Why do apartments have breed restrictions?
The answer lies in the fact that some breeds of dogs are more likely to cause damage to property than others. For example, Pit Bulls are known for being aggressive towards people, and Rottweilers are known for being extremely territorial. Weight restrictions exist because typically the larger a dog is, the stronger and more capable of damaging property it is. Pet damage to floors, walls, appliances and yards is more common with larger and more aggressive dog breeds. It’s also generally more expensive to repair.
If you live in an apartment with breed restrictions, you may need to find another place to live, but don’t give up hope! There are many logical reasons why these restrictions exist, including:
- the landlord doesn’t want to risk liability claims
- the landlord is concerned about the safety of children in the building
- they’re tired of repairing pet-related property damage or fighting with tenants over pet deposit refunds
- they just don’t want to deal with the hassle of having a dog living in the complex
They may be willing to compromise on certain aspects of the restriction (like allowing a small dog) if you agree to take on certain responsibilities.
What should I do if my landlord won’t budge?
It’s important to remember that most landlords will try to accommodate tenants who have pets. You can always ask your landlord what types of dogs or breed lists they would consider reasonable to have in their rental property, and then negotiate accordingly.
It’s also possible that your landlord has no choice but to enforce the ban. In that case, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
Commonly Restricted Dog Breeds
If you’ve got a dog who falls under a breed restriction, don’t fret! There are many ways to get around these rules.
First off, it’s important to know what breeds are commonly banned. The American Kennel Club (AKC) has a list of the most common restricted dog breeds for apartments, including:
- Doberman Pinschers
- Pit Bulls/American Bulldogs
- German Shepherds
- Bull Terriers
- Great Danes
- Cane Corso
- Staffordshire Terriers
The AKC also lists some breeds that are typically allowed in rentals, but that may need to be muzzled at all times (check with your landlord and/or your lease agreement). These include: Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Beagles, Cocker Spaniels, Havanese, Shih Tzus, Bichons, Malteses, and more.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) also has a list of banned breeds, with the most commonly banned being the Pit Bull and the Rottweiler. Other breeds that fall into this category include: Mastiffs, Great Danes, St Bernards, Dobermans, French Bulldogs, and more.
Next, find out if your dog actually appears on a prohibited breed list. You can check this online using the AVMA’s website, where you will see whether your dog is listed as a banned or restricted breed.
Is there anything else I can do to avoid breed restrictions?
Yes! If you want to get around dog breed restrictions while renting, you will need to make sure that your dog is properly trained and well-behaved, offer your landlord an additional deposit, get pet insurance, register your dog as an Emotional Support Animal, or rent from a private owner instead of a rental company.
You should also keep your dog under close supervision whenever he is outside. If your dog isn’t properly supervised, he could become aggressive or even bite someone.
You should also make sure your dog is microchipped, vaccinated, and spayed or neutered. These measures will help protect both you and your neighbors from harm.
Finally, you should not allow your dog to run loose in the neighborhood, or anywhere where children play. Even though your dog might seem friendly, he could still scare kids away from playing near his territory.
There are some important nuances to consider for the above recommendations, so let’s dig into the details of these points a bit more.
#1: Pet DNA Testing
Pet DNA tests are super easy and cheap. This type of testing isn’t only for discovering your pet’s ancestry. If you have a pet that looks like a restricted dog but is a mixed breed with other non-restricted breeds in its ancestry, you can argue that your dog is not actually a restricted breed.
You might get similar results
Important: this isn’t a guarantee of getting accepted, but you’ll have it ready to go either way.
#2: Get Professional Training for Your Dog
Finally, consider enrolling your dog in professional training classes. Many dogs fall into restricted categories simply due to bad breeding practices. By taking your dog to a reputable trainer, you can potentially avoid such problems.
In addition, you can try to teach your dog how to behave properly in public and around other people and dogs. For example, if your dog barks excessively or lunges at other dogs, the right training could change these problematic behaviors.
There are many benefits to having a well-behaved dog. Not only does it make life easier for everyone, but it makes it much easier to rent an apartment. Be a responsible dog owner and be able to prove it, and your current or potential landlord may relax their breed restrictions for you.
#3: Offer a Pet Deposit
If you want to get around breed restrictions while renting, then you could try to offer a pet deposit. These are refundable deposits intended to cover any additional costs incurred by a misbehaving pet. Given that the average pet deposit is usually between 40 and 85 percent of the cost of rent, your chances of getting your landlord to agree to allow your dog increase with the amount that you’re willing to pay.
Landlords don’t want to risk losing money on a tenant whose pet causes property damage or creates some other kind of financial or legal liability for them.
Talk to your landlord about how much of a pet deposit they’d be willing to agree to in order to let your dog live in the rental with you.
#4: Get Pet Insurance
Insurance may cover pet damage to rental properties, so you could look into pet insurance as a means of convincing your landlord to relax their breed restrictions for your dog.
That said, it’s important to understand that pet insurance policies vary from company to company. Some insurance companies offer coverage for certain dog breeds, while others don’t. Make sure you read up on the details of any policy you plan to purchase.
Other insurance companies will charge higher premiums for pets that are considered high-risk. You’ll need to find out what those risks are before deciding whether or not to buy a policy.
#5: Rent from Private Owners Instead of a Company
Another option is to find a private landlord who doesn’t have dog breed restrictions, or who has fewer restrictions on pets overall.
However, finding a private landlord that allows most dog breeds can be difficult. They typically don’t advertise vacancies as prominently as property management and larger rental companies do.
If you decide to move forward with this strategy, be prepared to spend a lot of time looking for a good match. Try looking at the classified ads in your area, checking craigslist, or even just driving around neighborhoods that you’re interested in living in and looking for “For Rent” signs.
#6: Emotional Support Dog Registration
Unlike a service or therapy animal, an emotional support animal, or ESA for short, are for providing their owners or caregivers with therapeutic benefits. Landlords cannot deny you an emotional support animal, and there are no breed restrictions.
Please be responsible and not simply register your animal to get around breed or pet restrictions. The animal must be well behaved and undertake training that makes them suitable for this role.
Since there is no official ESA database, you must have a certified mental health professional letter alongside your ESA license number.
Be aware that an ESA is NOT a service animal. Emotional support dogs are not considered to be service animals under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).
We know that life with a pet is one of the most beautiful things, but it doesn’t come without its trials and tribulations as a renter. Hopefully, these tips and tricks, alongside stellar training and responsible pet ownership, will get help you overcome pet restrictions when renting and allow you to safely and legally rent and live with your beloved pets.