Apartment hunting can be stressful. In fact, in a recent Rent.com survey, 44% of millennial renters rated finding an apartment as more painful than finding a soul mate, buying a car and making friends. But for some people, searching for a place to live isn't just painful—it seems nearly impossible.
This is especially true for pet parents who have a large dog, a restricted breed or multiple furry friends. I happen to fit into all three of those categories. So what's a pet owner to do? Here are a few of my tips:
Why the Restrictions?
First, let's talk about why there are even restrictions in the first place. There are a couple of reasons you're running into trouble finding a place that's willing to accommodate you.
The first, believe it or not, is insurance. Many insurance companies won't provide coverage for buildings or management companies that rent to owners of certain dog breeds that they deem "high risk." Pitbulls are the most common example of these breed restrictions, but other large dogs that insurance companies often don't want to cover include German Shepherds, Great Danes, and Alaskan Malamutes. As a Pit parent, you can probably guess how I feel about breed restrictions.
The second most common reason apartments have weight and number of animal restrictions is cost. Larger dogs and multiple pets running around an apartment are more likely to cause damage and can create more wear and tear than small pets or no pets at all.
Get an Early Start
There is still hope for finding a pet friendly place to live with big ol' Rover and your other munchkins. The best thing you can do is start your apartment hunt as early as possible. As soon as rental listings begin popping up for your move-in date, start contacting landlords and property managers. Your choices will be more limited than without a large dog or multiple pets, but if you get started early enough, you should be able to find something that works for you and your furry family.
Use “Pet Friendly” in Your Search
When searching for an apartment online, make sure you use the pet-friendly filters so you're only seeing the places that are available to you. Rent.com can help you filter apartments by pet policy, including places that allow cats, ones that allow dogs, and ones where both are OK. Keep in mind that even if an apartment is marked pet friendly, it still may have weight restrictions, so you’ll need to contact the property for details.
Look for Independent Landlords
Because insurance companies are often behind strict pet policies, you'll find that large building management companies and condo associations are much less likely to allow your pets than an independent landlord. When someone is renting out his or her own unit, he or she will be more likely to accept animals on a case-by-case basis. This has been the best strategy for my Pit mix, Wally, and me. We’ve been lucky enough to find landlords who are willing to meet him, and they promptly fall in love. Who can resist that big, silly smile?
Make Peace With a Longer Commute
If you're apartment hunting in a bigger city, you may be more likely to find a pet friendly rental when you look farther away from the city center. Because there are more parks (including dog parks) and single-family homes outside of downtown, the neighborhoods that are farther away probably offer more pet friendly housing opportunities. This may mean you'll have to commute farther than you'd like.
Show Your Responsibility
When you start visiting apartments and meeting prospective landlords, make sure you're prepared to argue Rover's merits. Bring along veterinary records that prove he's been vaccinated and neutered. Also, bring a certificate that shows he completed obedience training and some references from previous landlords.
If you're looking for a place that will accept multiple pets, bring paperwork for all of your animals—and a few pictures couldn't hurt either. The more prepared you are, the more responsible you'll seem, which can only benefit you.
Make an Offer a Landlord Can't Refuse
If your potential landlord is concerned about having to pay more for damages or cleaning when you move out, offer to pay more upfront for a pet deposit or cover your move-out cleaning costs yourself. It'll sweeten the deal and could potentially ease the landlord's mind.
Be an Excellent Renter Otherwise
Remember that bringing a large dog or multiple pets into the apartment-finding equation is going to set you back a bit in many landlords' eyes. Because of that, you'll want to do what you can to be the perfect tenant otherwise. Make sure your credit is in good shape, and talk to your previous landlords about providing stellar recommendations.