Tips for Renting with Pets

Many landlords enforce a "no pets" policy when faced with renting to pet owners. PAWS offers the following suggestions on ways renters can approach the challenge of securing rental housing for both them and their animals.

  • Be honest. The landlord will find out if you have a secret pet, or that you have three cats instead of one.
  • Gather references. If you have rented with your animal before, produce letters from your previous landlords indicating that you and your pet both acted responsibly.
  • Develop a resume for your animal. Be creative. Include breed, weight, height, age, whether your pet is spayed or neutered, personal hygiene, behavior traits, training background, veterinarian's name and phone number, and personal references. Give this resume to prospective landlords.
  • Discuss your animal with the rental agent or landlord. Landlords are more likely to rent to someone who can prove that their animal has been spayed or neutered, is housetrained, and is socialized, trained and exercised enough to live happily in an apartment.
  • Introduce your pet. A well-behaved animal may be able to convince the landlord when discussions have failed.
  • Put it in writing. Offer to negotiate an addendum to the rental agreement or lease, indicating exactly what your landlord will expect of you and your animal, and agree in writing to pay a specified additional security deposit to cover the cost of any animal-related damages.
  • Propose a trial period. Offer to accept a short-term rental period, during which the landlord can see if you and your animal will be acceptable long-term tenants. If the landlord agrees to rent to you and your animal, be sure to get all the specifics in writing. Anyone can have a change of heart, so make sure that a landlord's change of heart does not result in an unplanned change of residence for you.
  • Ask before you adopt. If you decide to adopt a pet while renting, discuss it with your landlord first. If your landlord says no to a dog, he or she may say yes to a cat or other small animal.
  • Be responsible. If a landlord accepts your animal, the most important responsibility you have, next to the loving care of your companion, is to set an example. Do not allow your animal to damage the rented property in any way. Keep your dog from barking and keep your cat from roaming. If your animal does cause damage, tell your landlord immediately. Pay for the damage and make all arrangements to repair it as soon as possible. Remember, only by being a responsible guardian can you turn the tide in favor of a "welcome pets" rental policy.

Looking for pet-friendly rentals?

Try these websites:

Other useful resources

The US Department of Housing & Urban Development Fair Housing Act.

Resources for Rental Managers from The Humane Society of the United States.

The Hawaiian Humane Society Pets in Housing Program includes resources on common pet problems and solutions, a checklist for landlords, and tips for tenants.

Best Friends for Life, a publication of the Doris Day Animal League, explains federal laws regarding the right to keep pets in various housing situations.