Renting with pets can be a challenge. Even though studies have shown that pet owners make better tenants for a number of reasons, many landlords are still hesitant. When searching for a place to live, the building’s pet policy will most likely be the first deciding factor on whether or not you can even look at the place. This can be a blessing in disguise, though. Often times, after hearing “No pets” repeatedly, you may just hear, “I only rent to people with pets.” This has happened to me, twice. Both places were better suited to me and my animal clan than all the others – it was just meant to be. Still, the search was stressful and it required some extra preparations.
Some pet owners are not up to the challenge and they relinquish the family pets to the shelter. Out of the 2,041 pets that were intercepted by the South LA Shelter Intervention program last year, 14% were because of housing issues.
Most of us who work here at Found Animals have pets, and almost all of us are renters. We also tend to move a lot. Before I settled into my apartment, I moved almost every year (over six moves in five years) and always with a different combination of cats and dogs.
If you see a move coming up in your future, here are some tips on how to make the process as smooth as possible:
- References: Having a written letter of reference from previous landlords can help push a potential landlord who is on the fence over the edge and into the land of, “yes, I will rent to you and your pets”. Other documents that prove your pet is rent-worthy are obedience class certificates, or better yet (for dogs) a Canine Good Citizen Certificate.
- Records: Having a city license, proof of spay/neuter and rabies certificates all in a nice folder shows you are super responsible.
- Create a Pet Resume: Include other details about your pets, like their birthday, where they came from, and any other information you think is relevant.
- Allocate Money: If you can afford it, pick an amount of money that you would be comfortable paying on top of the deposit. If you need to sway a reluctant landlord, an extra $50 to $100 dollars on top of the deposit may help.
- Offer a Meet and Greet: Offer prospective landlords a chance to meet your pet (works better for dogs) and your dog may save you a lot of effort by winning the landlord over for you.
- Post Your Own Ad: If you look really good on paper, post your own ad and let the landlords come to you. If you have proof of sufficient, steady income and letters of recommendation, you’ll increase your chances for success.
- Check Every Database: There are many free and paid directories, some specializing in pet-friendly rentals. The Humane Society of the United States has put a great list together. Be sure to do a Google Search for pet friendly rentals that will pull up results in your area.
- The Power of Persuasion: Don’t underestimate your power of persuasion. One FA staffer, with a very large pit bull, has only ever rented properties that had a “no-dog policy.” If you want to stay in a certain neighborhood, take a day to walk around and talk with people.
- Make a Back-Up Plan: If you have to move out by a certain date, make a contingency plan in case you do not find a place in time. Though this sounds stressful, having a place to put yourself, your pets and your belongings temporarily will help reduce stress overall because you know you won’t end up on the streets and your pets won’t end up at the shelter.
Do you have any other tips? Share your move stories with us in the comments below.