One of the hardest things to do in rental land is find a place that will accept you and your canine best friend. While more and more places are opening up to pets, there are still tips and tricks to landing your next apartment. You can take your dog to most bars, coffee shops, parks, and work! Why is it so difficult to find a rental home that accepts fido they way the rest of the city does?
Pets are not a protected class and landlords often think of the worst case scenario when it comes to letting a pet live in their property. They worry about holes in walls, scratched and broken windows, destroyed floors etc. You and I know that it’s a rare case that a pet will damage your home, but the landlord is looking for the easiest tenant with the lowest amount of risk. It is important to convey how awesome your dog is quickly and politely. Here are my tips for winning over a landlord when it comes to pets.
TOP 5 TIPS FOR RENTING WITH A DOG
Identify the Right Apartment - Most listings will say right away if they allow dogs or not and they will often have restrictions on breed or size.. Look for listings that have been on for more than 7 days; after a week landlords start to get antsy that they haven’t filled a vacancy and might be willing to rethink their pet policies.
Pet Biography Sheet - If you are like me, you have hundreds of photos of your dog on your phone. Now is your chance to put them to use. Make up an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper with pictures of your dog and fun personality traits or quotes.
“Biscuit likes to sleep all day.”
“Fido comes to work with me most days.”
“Deloris’ favorite bartender is Steven at the Redwood.”
“I borrow Sven to go on walks to pick up girls” - Dog Owner’s Best Friend
You want to give your dog the appearance of a great personality who receives love from the community. This sheet is also important because it’s something you can leave with a landlord so they will better remember you as they are looking at rental applications. You can also send it in an email before you meet the landlord to warm them up to the idea of your dog.
Deposit Reality - Sometimes people offer to pay a bigger deposit. This gets a little tricky in the City of Seattle. Pet Deposits are capped at 25% of one month’s rent. Landlords are not allowed to charge more than this if they want to accept you and your dog. Note: some of these deposits are not fully refundable - read the fine print! Which leads to the next option…
Offer to Pay More in Rent - Since you brought your dog home, life has been more fulfilling...and more expensive. It’s going to be the same when renting a home. Sometimes landlords charge more money for apartments that are pet friendly, and sometimes you can set yourself apart from the pack by offering an extra $25 - $50 per month. In Seattle, landlords are still allowed to accept a tenant who is willing to pay above the stated price per month.
Face-to-Face Meeting - I always suggest my clients (Landlords and Tenants) have a face-to-face meeting with their new landlord/tenant before making any decisions about potential pets. Do what it takes to make sure your dog is the most well-behaved they have ever been for this meeting. Take them to the dog park so they are good and tired beforehand. (Make sure to give them a bath if it’s a muddy day). If your dog gets agitated when it’s hungry, make sure they have eaten beforehand - no one likes a hangry dog! Don’t let your dog jump on your potential landlord - It isn’t the end of the world, but it’s not a good start….
DO NOT FAKE A SERVICE ANIMAL - I don’t use all caps often, but this is extremely important. NEVER FAKE A SERVICE ANIMAL. Service animals are not pets; they are dogs who work for a living helping those in need.. A landlord cannot turn away a tenant who has a service animal and providing proof is not very clear. As more and more people bend these rules or flat out lie about their pet’s status, there is more chance of regulation that could limit how service animals will be treated in the future. It sounds very tempting to just say that your dog is a service animal, but if they are not please do not lie about it.
These are the top tips I have for helping renters find great homes with their pets. Another option is to consider buying a home. It’s tough to purchase in this market, but in some ways it’s much easier than finding the perfect apartment. Give me a call and we can talk through everything.