Renting with Pets

Tips for sniffing out a home where furry tenants are welcome

Renting with PetsSan Diego ranks in the top 10 pet-friendliest cities in the country, so it’s no shock that pets live in two-thirds of our homes. But in a city where lots of its inhabitants rent rather than own, finding a pet-friendly place to call home isn’t always easy, especially in a competitive rental market where landlords can be choosier about their tenants.

Options are limited, and the search takes more time, organization and potentially some efforts persuading a could-be landlord on your part. So before you unleash your energies to find the perfect place for you and your dog or cat, read—and abide by—these helpful tips.

Find places known to accept pets.
This may seem obvious, but it’s really the best bet when moving with animals. And there are a number of resources to assist: San Diego Humane Socity (sdhumane.org) offers eight pages of dog-and-cat-friendly communities and highlights possible restrictions such as number of pets and limitations on weight and breed types. To find a list in your desired area, simply search “pet-friendly rentals.” Peoplewithpets.com provides listings for abodes that accept dogs and cats over 50 pounds. And PETA (peta.org) has a list of clickable national apartment locators with pets-allowed filters; just search “pet-friendly housing.” If you find the perfect fit using this step, you can stop reading. If you don’t, please proceed.

Seek out individual homeowners/landlords.
You’ll find more success appealing to and persuading an individual home or condo owner to accept Fido than larger entities with strict corporate no-pet policies. Request an in-person interview and only bring your dog along if he’s a therapy dog. Seriously, people tend to make snap judgements, and you wouldn’t want to lose out on a lease because your pooch barked or licked too much or did something else the landlord found annoying.

Create a resume.
Mention completed training programs and accolades—even positive feedback from doggie daycare or a boarding facility. Include your pet’s picture, age, activity level, whether or not it’s spayed or neutered, cleanliness and breed traits that make him or her an ideal tenant.

Gather references.
That’s right. Ask previous landlords and neighbors to write letters of reference for you and Fifi. Request a printout from the vet showing that she’s up-to-date on her vaccinations and that she’s on some sort of flea-prevention plan. And bring a copy of your dog’s license from Animal Services.

Give options.
If the homeowner is on the fence about the prospect of allowing you and your dog or cat to live in his residence, suggest a trial period. Propose a 60- or 90-day probationary timeframe so they can see how it goes; then renegotiate the contract. It might be worth mentioning that because pet-friendly rentals are harder to find, you plan to stay put longer.

Be prepared to pay more.
You’ll likely have to give a pet deposit in addition to the typical security deposit. Some landlords may require an additional monthly fee for the pet—or an overall higher rent because you have a pet.

Get it all in writing.
A verbal agreement is good, but you need to make sure that all the terms are explicitly explained in a written contract that you and the landlord both sign. It’s best to have a separate pet agreement attached to the lease. If that’s not possible, make sure any no-pet references are crossed out and initialed by both parties.

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