HOW TO FIND PET-FRIENDLY RENTAL HOUSING

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Whether you have cats or dogs, or both, there are many pet-friendly landlords and apartments out there today. The good news is it is becoming much easier to find available apartments, privately owned condos and houses that will readily rent to people with pets. So have faith, take your time, don’t give up, and know that you will find a warm welcome mat for you and your pets.

I recently went through the proverbial search for a rental for myself and my three cats due to a divorce. Every single apartment and condominium I looked at in my town accepted multiple cats (up to three). Times have changed and I was pleasantly surprised to find how much the marketplace had been transformed since the mid 1990s when it was all but impossible to find a rental willing to take one cat let alone multiple cats. Every apartment I considered did require a small monthly pet deposit for each cat ($50 per cat). But the two personally owned condominiums I was serious about renting did not require a pet deposit, however did require a full damage deposit equal to my rent. Some landlords will require you to pay a special pet deposit per month ($25-$100 per pet) or will charge a single upfront fee ($50-$1000 per pet) when you sign the agreement, but others will not charge any fee. So have faith that you will find the purrrrrfect pet-friendly home for you and your fur family, because they are out there!

Best Websites for Pet-Friendly Housing

Rental advertising today usually specifies upfront in the ad that they are “pet friendly” or not. Those that do not allow pets and have a strict no pet policy will say “no pets allowed.” The following websites have some of the best pet-friendly housing options, so check these out:

When using these websites, you will need to use the dog and cat-friendly “filters” for pet-friendly options in your desired city or neighborhood. Some of these sites have additional filters for specific animals. Sometimes you need to click on the “More” option to find the pets’ section for cats and dogs. Check to make sure cats or dogs are allowed for each property and how many are allowed. Some will specify a pet deposit or other documentation. Some of these sites like Trulia, show housing with a pet-friendly tag on each listing that accepts cats or dogs making it easy to see which listings are pet friendly. In addition to the housing apps and websites, I found Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace very helpful sources for pet-friendly housing especially that was privately owned, so I recommend including these two sources in your search. The condo I ended up renting came from Facebook Marketplace.

For additional resources, you can contact real estate agents, rental agents, or resident apartment managers to see if they have personal recommendations for you. Ask them for leads. Sometimes it will be easiest to find pet-friendly housing with individual home and condo owners who may have pets themselves, are more compassionate about the needs of pet-owners, and are very sympathetic to your situation. Do a Google search on pet-friendly apartments and condos in your specific geographic area too, and many search result leads will pop up that are pet-friendly in your immediate area or the area you are looking for. 

How To Find Pet-Friendly Rental Housing
Image by Turbot on Pixabay.com

To Prepare

Some preparation may be needed to show that you are a responsible pet owner. Documentation may not be requested or even required, but better to be prepared and you can always offer it:

  1. Have a letter of reference from your current or previous landlord verifying that you are a conscientious and responsible pet owner.
  2. Confirm that your pet is spayed or neutered. Have their S/N certificate ready if needed.
  3. Have any veterinary medical records ready should they be requested, showing your pet is up-to-date on their vaccines. Your vet will do this upon request.
  4. Promote yourself and emphasize to your potential landlord that you respect their property, and will keep their home extremely clean.
  5. Fleas – Tell your potential landlord that you regularly vacuum, wet mop, clean your home to prevent fleas, and use a regular flea-treatment program (natural or Advantage/Frontline).
  6. Keep Cats Inside Only – Emphasize to your landlord that you will keep your cat(s) inside only and understand the health and safety benefits of doing this. 
  7. Go Beyond – Show your landlord photos of your cats in your current home to make it more personal for them. You can make a positive impression by creating a “resume” for each pet that includes a photo, certifications, medical record, vaccinations, bio, and even a short adoption story.

Once you have secured a new home for you and your cats, get it into writing, disclosing the agreement you have with your new landlord about having one, two or three cats. You may have to sign a comprehensive agreement that will protect you, your pets, and your landlord. Remove any “no-pets” clauses from the rental agreement or lease if they exist, and be sure to remove it from your landlord’s copy too, to protect yourself. If you have to pay a pet deposit, ask if it is refundable. It may not be. Be sure to discuss pet deposits and monthly pet-related fees upfront and in advance and have these put into writing as well. Ask for any printed pet-related guidelines or policies at this time and reassure your landlord that you will abide by any rules and guidelines they have stipulated and will respect their property. 

Cat-Specific Tips For Renting

  1. Prevent Litter Box Problems – Always buy and maintain one litter box per cat. Make sure the boxes are easily accessible to them. Keep them really clean, cleaning them once or twice daily. Remove the waste from the home, putting it outside immediately. Don’t place all the litter boxes in one location, spread them out. Use large protective mats under and around the box in case they miss. These are my favorite mats, available on Amazon, and they look great! Also, watch out for scented litter, cats dislike fragrance and may refuse to use the box, try to always use unscented litter. Use safe essential oils to mask any smells if needed.
  2. Never, Ever Declaw – This is never the answer or solution to scratching problems. It is considered amputation, and akin to removing the first knuckle of human fingers. It is illegal in most of Europe and Australia, and the majority of vet schools in the U.S. do not permit training for it and most veterinarians refuse to perform the surgery. It is considered cruel, inhumane, and completely unnecessary, and it will handicap your cat emotionally and physically for the rest of their lives. You can read more about the harmful effects of declawing here. 
  3. Provide Scratching Posts – Scratching is totally normal, natural and necessary for cats, it is in their DNA and is natural behavior for many health and behavioral reasons. Keep tall cat trees (5-7 feet) and sturdy sisal-covered horizontal scratching posts (3+ feet) in various places throughout your home. You can introduce them to each by putting some catnip on each post and tree, until they are using it regularly.
  4. Keep Your Cat Happy Indoors – Cats can be very happy inside. You can create a happier, more interesting, stress-free environment by making your home more cat-friendly so they can express their natural behaviors and to keep them stimulated. Here is how you can make your home much more comfortable for your cats.

Lastly, be sure to be a responsible pet owner so the next person that comes along after you, will have the same opportunity you did and the landlord will welcome them like they welcomed you.  

Mostly, I wish you the very best in your next move and in finding your next place to call “home” for you and your pets!

Related Articles 

Ultimate Pet Friendly Housing Guide: How to Find a Rental With Your Pet, https://www.petlisted.com/pe-friendly-housing-guide/

Information for Renters With Pets, https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/information-renters-pets

7 Tips for Finding a Pet-Friendly Apartment, https://www.apartmentlist.com/renter-life/how-to-find-a-pet-friendly-apartment

How to Find a Pet-Friendly Apartment, https://www.apartments.com/blog/how-to-find-a-pet-friendly-apartment

Everything You Need to Know About Renting With a Pet, https://www.avail.co/education/articles/how-to-find-rental-housing-with-a-pet

7 Questions Landlords Have About Pets and Pet-Friendly Apartments, https://rentalhousingjournal.com/7-questions-landlords-have-about-pets-and-pet-friendly-apartments/

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