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Should You Ask Your Landlord for a Pet?

Renters Warehouse Blog

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For tenants far and wide, there’s one question that comes up every so often: “Should I ask my landlord for a pet?” Sure, when you moved into the place, you signed a lease stating that you agree to the no-pets policy for the rental. And if that’s the case, you’ll need to abide by the terms of the lease. But in some cases, it may be worth asking your landlord anyway, as there’s a chance that they might, just might, say yes.

Of course, asking your landlord if you can have a pet could have unpredictable results. The response that you get will depend on your landlord, your property in question and how suitable it is for pets in the first place, and often, the pet in question as well. 

Still, if you love the idea of adopting a furry friend, then no doubt you’ll want to raise the question to your landlord. In this article, we’ll take a look at some situations where it might make sense to ask your landlord for a pet and highlight how you can go about doing it.

Landlords: See What You Should Know When Renting to Pet Owners

Is Having a  Pet in a Rental a Good Idea?

First of all, is a pet a good idea in the first place? This will depend largely on the property in question, your landlord, and the type of pet that you’d like to get. Of course, the type of job that you work and how much time you have to spend with your pet matter too, since a pet that’s left alone all day, especially a dog, is going to end up stressed and cause damage, having accidents, and barking all day long. If you’re working long hours away from home, you may want to consider asking about a smaller caged pet, like a bird or hamster. 

Consider also that getting a pet when you’re renting can be a challenge. According to Zillow, some 46% of renters live with pets, and 48% list ‘allowing pets’ as a requirement for their next rental, but the supply of pet-friendly accommodation is falling short. Many landlords don’t allow pets. Keep in mind that even if your current landlord does agree to you getting a pet, it could make it more difficult for you to find accommodation when you move out. 

Check the Lease

Next up, you’ll want to check your lease to see what, exactly, the pet policy states. In some cases, it will be explicit that it is a no-pets rental. Often, apartments or multifamily accommodations will have strict rules in place as there is limited space for pets, and closer living means that it’ll be easier for pets (barking dogs, for instance) to annoy the neighbors. Then there’s the issue of equality. If your landlord approves one tenant’s request for a pet, they will be expected to agree to all of the other requests as well. In some cases, you might find that your lease specifically bans dogs, or certain breeds of dogs like Pitbulls but doesn’t mention cats. In this case, you may have a better chance of getting your pet request approved if you decide to ask for a cat instead of a dog.

Service Animals

Service animals, of course, are not classified as pets and therefore do not fall under the same policies. The Federal Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act require landlords to provide “reasonable accommodations” for tenants with disabilities, and service animals are one such reasonable accommodation. If you have a support animal, then you do not need to pay a pet rent for them either. Learn more about service animals in rentals.

Asking Your Landlord for a Pet

Okay, so you’re ready to pose the question to your landlord. Now it’s time to think about how you’ll word your request. In most cases, it’s best to be polite and keep it short and to the point. There’s no need to over-complicate the situation, spelling out why exactly you love dogs and how having animals would soothe your soul. Likewise, don’t guilt-trip them. Messages like, “My family is unable to care for our dog any longer, and I need to bring him in so that he doesn’t get put down,” are unlikely to go down very well and only put unnecessary pressure on your landlord. Instead, stick to the basics with your requests. A polite and simple request is almost always your best strategy. 

Consider wording your request something like this:

Hello *Landlord’s Name*

I hope you’re doing well? Everything is going well over at the rental. I booked in the furnace service that you requested, etc., etc., etc.

How would you feel about me getting a cat? I know the lease says “no dogs,” but I’d like to have a cat again, and thought I’d check to see if this is something you’d be open to. Of course, I’d be happy to comply with any requests for microchipping/vaccinations/spaying-neutering and would make sure the cat is a fully-housetrained adult, not a kitten! I’d like to hear your thoughts on this. 

All the best,

*Your Name*

Your landlord may come back with a blunt reminder of the no-pets policy. Or, they just might surprise you and come back with a “Yes.” Or, they may ask you if you’d be willing to pay a pet deposit and pet rent. Before you send out your request, it’s a good idea to consider how much you’d be willing to pay in pet rent for the pet. If you don’t have any room in your budget for pet rent, then you’ll want to let your landlord know early on in the exchange so that they don’t waste any time on lease amendments, only to find out that you wouldn’t be able to pay the required fees in the end.

On the fence about what pet to get? You could always pose the question to your landlord. You could mention that you’d like to get a small dog or a cat and wondered if they would be okay with this, and if so, which animal they would prefer. Some landlords are more open to cats; for example, others are not. Sometimes landlords will put rules into place banning dogs that are over a certain size or breed. But not always. Asking for their input will show you exactly where they stand and what your options are.

Make Sure You’re Happy to Comply With the Requirements

If your landlord agrees to a pet, be prepared to comply with their requirements. You may need to obtain the following when you adopt a pet: 

  • Up-to-date vaccinations
  • Microchipping
  • Spaying/Neutering
  • Obedience training

While not every landlord will require these things, there’s a chance that your landlord will, especially if you are in an apartment. If you do have these things done then make sure you obtain documentation for them. Keep your documents in a safe place so that you can easily find them if you’re asked for them again at some point in the future. 

Don’t Feel Tempted to Break the Lease

Even if there’s no pet policy included in your lease, you’ll want to avoid adopting an animal without your landlord’s express permission. Sneaking an animal in will only cause problems. And if you do have a lease that includes a no-pet policy, then you could face fines for breaking it. Worse, you may be asked to return or rehome your pet or may even have to leave with short notice. Always make sure you have your landlord’s permission, in writing, before you bring a pet home. 

Living With Pets in Your Rental

If your landlord has agreed for you to get a pet, then congratulations! Now it’s time to find an animal that meets their outlined criteria. Make sure you get the pet agreement in writing and ensure that you only look for pets that meet their criteria. So if your landlord has agreed to one cat, two cats are a bad idea. If your landlord’s agreed to one dog, don’t then get a dog and a cat. This would be a violation of the agreement.

Next up, you’ll want to make sure you follow the terms that you’ve agreed to. When you bring your new furry friend home, ensure that you follow the guidelines set. For a dog, this usually includes walking them on a leash at all times when on the premises (if you’re in an apartment), keeping them under control, avoiding allowing them to bark excessively, cleaning up after them, and making sure they do not cause damage to the house. Likewise, it’s usually best to skip the puppy phases when renting, especially if you’re in an apartment. An adult dog will have less energy than a puppy and is usually a better choice if you don’t have much space. 

Do your research before adopting to make sure you’re getting a breed that’s a good fit for you. In addition to your landlord’s criteria, consider practical logistics as well, like your location, preferences, and space. For example, adopting a 120-pound Great Dane would be a bad idea if you live in a small place, and bringing home a Husky would be a bad idea if you live in an area with a warm climate. Likewise, make sure you have enough time to devote to walking the dog or playing catch with him at the park. If you’re going to be gone during the day, you may want to look into pet sitting or dog walking options so that your dog can get out and get some much-needed exercise. A walked dog is less likely to misbehave and cause damage to the home.

For cats, scratching posts are a good way to help preserve the furniture. Or, consider getting some heavy-duty mats to keep by the door, some cats love to scratch these, and it’ll save the furniture and doorposts as well. Make sure the cat is fully housebroken and trained to use a litter box.

Follow the Rules

At the end of the day, remember: it’s your landlord’s property, their policies, and their rules. A ‘no pets’ policy might seem unfair, but remember, they’re the terms that you agreed to at the start of the tenancy, so it would be unfair to expect your landlord to change their mind midway through. Still, there’s nothing wrong with posing the question and asking anyway. Who knows? You might find that your landlord surprises you and comes back with a positive response. The worst that they could do is say no, so you don’t have much to lose. They’ll probably appreciate you asking anyway, as it highlights that you’re respectful of the rules and will ask for permission before moving on to any big changes. And even if your landlord does say no, then at least you’ll know where they stand on the issue and will be able to come up with a plan of action to find a solution that will work for you. You may want to consider moving into a new, pet-friendly place when your lease is up. It’s up to you, but you do have options, and if pet ownership is important to you, you’ll want to keep the issue of pet-friendliness in mind when looking for future accommodation.

Remember to always follow the rental agreement, get permission before you bring an animal home, and if you do get the green light to go ahead with pet adoption, then be sure to follow the terms that your landlord outlines for you. With this approach, you’ll be able to operate with integrity and will be much more likely to secure a glowing reference from your landlord when you do decide to move on.

Looking for more tips for tenants? Be sure to check out the Renters Warehouse blog. Our Resident Resources section is packed with tips and advice to help make renting as straightforward and hassle-free as possible. Or, looking for your next place? View available rental homes to see a list of rentals in YOUR area today.

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