For many renters, a house just isn’t a home without their pets. According to the Humane Society, 72% of renters have pets, but finding pet-friendly housing isn’t always a walk in the park. It can be difficult and expensive just to find an apartment that allows your pet, and once you do, the last thing you want is to jeopardize your security deposit and lose more money. Here are some simple guidelines to help keep your landlord and your pet equally happy:
Before You Sign a Lease
You know the expression “It’s better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission”? Well that definitely does not apply when it comes to renting with pets.
At the end of the day, a lease is a contract and violating its terms can result in fines or even eviction. When you and your furry friend are hunting for your next home, be sure you thoroughly read your lease and ask the necessary questions in order to fully understand your landlord’s specific pet policies.
At the most basic level, you’ll want to make sure that your property manager actually allows your pet, be it a dog, cat, bird, exotic lizard or whatever combination of these you cohabitate with. Speaking of which: make sure you are aware of any restrictions regarding the number of pets you may have. Just because an apartment is cat friendly doesn’t necessarily mean you can have eight of them.
Look out for weight restrictions, breed restrictions, and age restrictions too. Even if a property doesn’t have specific restrictions detailed in their policy, it is better to ask questions and be upfront with your landlord than to gamble on unknowns.
You’ll also want to know about any additional fees—many property managers collect a separate pet deposit while others charge a monthly pet rent. Your property manager may require renters’ insurance to prevent losses in case of eventual pet damages. Knowing these costs up front spares you some surprises down the road and will help you determine if an apartment is still within your budget with those added expenses.
Once You’ve Moved In
There can be a lot of rules and restrictions when it comes to renting with pets. But it’s important to keep in mind that these policies are in place to protect the property from damage, and to benefit the wellbeing of the surrounding community.
The common sense rule is to be neighborly. Keep in mind that people love dogs but prefer not to be reminded of their presence, be these reminders of vocal or—ehm—material nature. If your dog isn’t used to hearing other dogs outside or neighbors moving around upstairs, it may bark at these unfamiliar noises. Try leaving on a radio or other source of soothing background noise to mask outside sounds and help your pup stay calm. When signing your lease, you should identify the pet leashing rules for the property and learn the designated areas for your pet to do its business.
You’ll also want to clean regularly to avoid pet odors building up in your home. Scoop the litter box often, clean out the birdcage, vacuum at least once a week, etc. This can prevent added cleaning fees later on and is especially helpful if your property manager has stricter pet policies. And no, spraying air fresheners doesn’t count as cleaning
Additionally, make sure you give your pet sufficient exercise. We can’t stress this enough—restless pets get into trouble! Besides the countless health benefits of regular exercise for your pup (and for you), an un-walked dog may scratch or gnaw any number of things, including carpets, doors, your favorite shoes and even woodwork. And, despite their reputation for napping in warm rays of afternoon sunlight, cats need to burn off energy, too! Stimulate your cats with interactive toys, supply them with a scratching post or give them the full-blown adventure cat treatment and take them on outdoor walks, if that’s their thing.
When You’re Moving Out
Moving is stressful enough without wondering if you are going to get your security deposit back. When the time comes for you and your pet to leave your apartment, there are some additional considerations you should keep in mind.
Even though the landlord or property manager will undoubtedly have the apartment thoroughly cleaned after you move out, you should still make sure your apartment is cleaned and free of any pet (or people) odors before you vacate. If your apartment has carpeting, consider renting a steam cleaner from a nearby hardware or grocery store to help lift out stains and smells. Pet hair has a tendency to build up along baseboards and behind furniture; paying added attention to these areas will help you avoid added cleaning fees that can come out of your deposit.
Remember, moving can also cause stress for your pet. It can be a hectic process, but efforts to maintain your pet’s routine (and even providing them with extra attention) will help them stay calm and not cause damage just before you leave.
If you follow these tips, you’ll be well on your way to getting your deposit back—which means extra treats for Fido or Fluffy in your new home!