Getting a Dog if You Rent your Home

How Renters Can Become Dog Owners

man on laptop computer with french bulldog
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Renting apartments and other homes with dogs can pose a challenge, but it's not impossible. Property owners are wary about letting pets (especially dogs) live in their rental units. Unfortunately, may of them have been burned by negative past experiences. Whether you are a dog owner looking for a rental home or a renter thinking about getting a dog, here is what you need to know about renting with dogs.

For the Dog Owner Looking to Rent

If you already have a dog and need to rent an apartment, be aware that your search can be a bit more challenging than it is for the average renter. Make sure you are honest about your dog when talking to potential landlords about rental units. If you are using an agent to help with your apartment search, be sure he or she knows all about your dog. The last thing you need is to fall in love with a place only to learn that your beloved dog is not allowed.

If your potential landlord is on the fence about your dog, then a letter of reference from a former landlord stating that you are a responsible dog owner may be really helpful. You might also want to ask your veterinarian for a letter that says you keep your dog healthy.

Once you think you have found the right rental, make sure you go over the pet policy in detail. Before you sign that lease, you need to be sure there isn't anything in the fine print that could be a problem.

The biggest things to ask about are deposits/fees and size restrictions. However, be sure to familiarize yourself with all details of the policy. I once tried to rent an apartment in a building that had no size restrictions on pets. The catch was that all pets needed to be carried through the lobby and common areas of the building.

That simply won't work if you have a large dog!

For the Renter Who Wants a Dog

So, you have decided you are ready for a dog. Congratulations! Before you get your hopes up, make sure you are allowed to have a dog in your rental home or apartment. The first step is to pull out your lease agreement and have a look. What is the pet policy? If the lease states "no pets," it may worth a try to approach your landlord or landlady about the matter.

If your landlord says yes to the dog, there are more questions to ask about the pet policy. Is there a weight or size limit? Are puppies allowed, or only adult dogs? How much for the pet deposit? Is there an additional monthly fee? What are the rules for keeping a dog on this property (where can the dog be walked, etc)? Make sure you know all the details and can agree to comply with the policy before you choose your new dog. If you want to keep your lease, you will need to be a good renter/pet owner.

If your landlord says that a dog is absolutely not allowed, then you only have two options: don't get a dog or move to a pet-friendly rental.

Don't take the risk of getting a dog and trying to hide it as this is likely to backfire. The worst thing you can do is violate your lease and end up with a dog but no home.