Man's best friend and cuddly Garfield make coming home fun. But not all landlords are equally fond of your cats and dogs. Most landlords will state upfront whether they accept pets, sometimes accept pets, or under what conditions they'll accept animals in a rental. Landlords' main concerns include the extent to which pets will increase wear and tear on the apartment or house you'll be renting, how noisy the pets are (and whether this will bother other tenants), and how pet hair or pet smells may contribute to an unpleasant environment for some neighbors. For these reasons, many landlords forbid pets, and some only allow smaller pets (say, below 25 pounds in weight).
When they do allow pets, some landlords charge an extra deposit or non-refundable pet fees, which they levy in anticipation of a heavy clean-up when you move. These charges are not unusual—and can run anywhere from $300 to $500 or more—so be prepared if even a pet-friendly landlord presents you with these extra fees during your application.
There are no hard and fast rules among landlords for who does and doesn't accept pets, and it's legal for a landlord to forbid renters with pets (as long as the rules are applied uniformly among tenants). Generally, cats are more acceptable than dogs in apartment buildings. Dog owners may find they need to rent a single-family home or larger structure to get around apartment restrictions. Since some landlords accept pets based on their weight, it's worth double-checking what your pet weighs before you hit the market looking for a rental.
When searching for an apartment online, make sure to set search criteria to include units that accept pets. People With Pets and Apartments.com, as well as other services, will let you search for pet-friendly properties. Beyond finding a landlord open to renting to pet owners, there are additional steps you can take to make your rental application attractive from a pet perspective. For starters, you can ask prior landlords to serve as references and to comment on your pet's good behavior, or you can show your prospective landlord certificates of completion from obedience school as well as documentation from your veterinarian indicating that your pet is healthy and well-behaved.
Finding the right home can be more challenging if you're bringing four-legged friends along. But if you know your pet's weight, are willing to pay an extra deposit, and are willing to persuade a landlord that your pet is well-behaved, you can succeed in finding a great place for you, Fifi, and Fido, too.