Pet Policies for a Rental – A Detailed Guide
Finding a rental that accepts your furry friend can be difficult if you’re a pet owner.
Most landlords and property managers have strict policies for pets, and many renters find themselves having to give up their beloved companions simply because they can’t find a place to live that allows them to bring their pets with them.
But all is not lost! There are ways around this issue, and in this guide, we’ll outline some of the best tips for finding a rental that accepts pets. So whether you’re a renter or a landlord, keep reading for some valuable advice!
Difference between service animals Vs. pets
According To The Fair Housing Act, landlords must accept a service animal if the tenant meets specific requirements, even if no pet restriction is in place. But many people get confused between a service animal and a pet. Read on to know the difference.
What is a service animal?
A service animal is a pet that has been trained to perform specific tasks for the benefit of a disabled person. They provide emotional support, rescue/alert services, and more. They’re allowed in public places and housing without a pet policy by law.
What is a pet?
A pet (like a dog or cat) does not need to be specially trained and provides companionship instead of disability-related assistance. Pets are not allowed in public places or housing with a no pet policy.
There are times when both service animals and pets can be considered assistance animals. For example, the Fair Housing Act covers an emotional support animal even if there’s no pet policy because it provides therapeutic benefits that aren’t just companionship.
What are the differences between service animals, emotional support animals, and pets?
Service animals are trained to perform disability-related tasks for their owners. Help with hearing or mobility is common, but a service animal may help many other disabilities.
Emotional support/therapy dogs provide therapeutic benefits for their owners – they’re not required to be trained. Examples include calming anxiety, depression, or helping with PTSD.
Pets are not required to be professionally trained and provide companionship and other benefits such as improving your mood. But some landlords will consider them assistance animals if they’ve helped in the past with a physical disability (such as retrieving dropped items). However, this varies by the landlord, so be sure to check their pet policy before bringing home a new friend.
Who can get service animals?
Any person who meets the definition of a disability under The Americans With Disabilities Act is entitled to have a service animal. This includes those diagnosed with a mental or physical illness that substantially limits one or more major life activities. In addition, those people who have a record of such an impairment are also eligible for service animals.
What are pet policies?
Pet policies are provisions written into a rental agreement outlining whether pets are allowed on the property. Many landlords have specific criteria they require pet owners to meet, such as having the pet spayed or neutered by a certain age.
Having pet policies is essential because it helps ensure all tenants follow the same rules, which keeps the atmosphere in your rental building as harmonious as possible. But what do you need to know about pet policies, and how can you find the perfect rental home for you and your family?
Let’s dig in!
What things are covered under the pet policies?
Because pet policies are specific to the rental that you’re researching, they may (and frequently do) vary from one property to the next. Here are some of the most frequent provisions in pet insurance
Types of pets allowed?
Some pet insurance policies may cover cats, but not dogs, or only large animals such as rabbits or hamsters. Some may even only cover fish! Ensure you know your pet’s policy and what types of pets are allowed on the rental before signing a lease.
How many pets can I have?
You may have to get permission before adopting another pet, or you might be limited to having only one or two pets on the property at once. But if it says unlimited, don’t bring home more than five cats without checking with the landlord first. Most landlords will want to make sure they’re okay with the number of pets you have, so stay in touch with them to ensure their approval.
A pet deposit is just that – a fee that covers any damages caused by your pet during their time on the property. Generally, it’s not refundable; this means they’re only willing to do it once. So if you have pet damage to your rental unit, your landlord will usually only agree to do it again if you replace the pet.
Some landlords will only allow dogs of a specific breed, such as labs or terriers. Be sure to check if there are any particular breeds not allowed – you don’t want to accidentally cause problems when bringing your pet home!
Time limit on renting with pets?
Some rentals specify that you can’t have pets for the first few months, or within the first year. Be sure to know when this period ends so you can be prepared ahead of time!
Is there a weight limit?
Some landlords may only want small animals, such as fish. Be sure your pet is allowed by asking what the weight limit is before bringing him home.
Are there any other prohibited animals?
Just because your pet is allowed doesn’t mean that all pets are. Be sure to check the pet policies before bringing home a new friend.
Pet policies for a rental
Be flexible with your choice of rentals.
It might seem like common sense, but one of the best ways to find a rental that accepts pets is to be willing to rent from landlords who allow pets simply. This might mean you have fewer rental options, but you’ll increase your odds of finding a perfect home for your pet!
Look for rentals with a “pet-friendly” reputation.
If you can’t find a listing advertised as “pet-friendly,” try looking up reviews for the homes you are considering. Many prospective renters will mention whether or not pets are allowed in their listing, which can be helpful information if the unit doesn’t have it mentioned on its listing.
Get to know your landlord before bringing a pet onto the property
This is a good idea even if the rental listing doesn’t mention pet policies since landlords can change their policies at any time. For example, if you ask upfront and your landlord says it’s okay to have a pet, but then they see your dog peeing on the carpet in the hallway, there’s a chance they’ll change their mind!
Consider adding an extra deposit for pets
Most landlords will require tenants with pets to protect against any damages that may result from having a pet on the property. Some landlords may charge additional rent for pets, but most will require higher deposits to ensure any damages they may cause are covered.
Negotiate your lease terms
If you like the rental and your landlord is open to having a pet there with no extra fees or deposits required, try negotiating your lease terms to ensure you can keep your pet there. For example, you could ask for a longer lease so that if you need to move in the future, it won’t be such an issue. Asking for permission to sign a longer lease is something most landlords will agree to, and it can help reassure them that your pet isn’t going to cause any problems.
Ask about “pet rent.”
In some cases, landlords charge a small monthly fee for tenants who have pets on the property. In most cases, this is usually around ten or twenty dollars per month, which isn’t enough to deter you from getting a pet – but it’s something to keep in mind.
Give your landlord references
If you have friends, family members, or acquaintances with pets who live in housing that allows animals, see if they’ll give your prospective landlord a reference. Most landlords will ask for pet references to ensure your furry friend can be trusted to keep the property looking good.
Be a good pet owner!
Even if you have a perfect rental record, your landlord could change their mind about pets once they see your dog urinating on the floor or your cat leaving a hairball in the sink. Keep up with grooming and cleaning responsibilities so that there’s nothing for landlords to complain about. Be sure to keep them under control at all times, especially when guests are visiting too.
Have your pet spayed or neutered
Most landlords require tenants to get their pets spayed or neutered by a certain age. If you want to ensure they can stay in their home, this is something you’ll want to consider doing (even if it costs a few extra bucks).
Avoid bringing a pet home after signing the lease
Most landlords will require you to get approval before getting a pet, so waiting until after moving in could cause problems. If you discover your landlord isn’t okay with having pets on the property, it’s better to know ahead of time and find a new rental that does allow it.
Things you should do
If you have a pet or pets, then you need to remember certain things such as:
- Ensure your pet has all of its health records in order, including the license and tag to prove it’s vaccinated. If your pet is an emotional support animal, this means showing the landlord the letter from your physician recommending an emotional support dog.
- All pets should have a collar with proper identification attached to it at all times
- Never leave your pet unattended anywhere that isn’t safe for them, including balconies or busy streets. If the landlord has a no-running at-large policy, make sure you know what it is and follow it.
- Clean up immediately after your pet, no matter where they go.
Must Read: Renting with Pets: Complete Guide
Even if your pet is allowed, it’s essential to check the pet policy before bringing home a new friend. Service animals are allowed under specific circumstances, while pets are not. Make sure you know what is and isn’t considered an assistance animal so you can make the best decision for both you and your furry friend.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can landlords say no to pets?
Pets are permitted by default if a tenant makes a written request to keep one, according to the Model Tenancy Agreement. Landlords may still prevent tenants from having pets, but they must provide a good reason for doing so in writing within 28 days of receiving the request.
Are there extra fees for pets?
There are no additional fees for keeping a service animal or companion pet on top of the usual monthly rent. However, there may be some extra costs associated with taking care of your new furry friends, such as food and veterinary care. You need to work this out with your landlord ahead of time to avoid any confusion.
Are pet limits negotiable?
Yes, but the landlord may set reasonable limits on the size, weight, or number of pets in writing. You should be ready to discuss this with them if you want something different. Any changes in pet policy must be made before you sign your tenancy agreement.
What happens when a tenant breaks the rules?
If you do not comply with your landlord’s pet policy, they may issue you an “unauthorized pet notice,” which means that if the violation is not fixed in 14 days, then your tenancy will end 30 days later. The pet has to get rid of the animal by this time, or else they’re both trespassings.