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Renting with Dogs

Apartment Living for Dog Owners

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Great Dane Dog and Owner in Front of Apartment

Is this dog allowed in your apartment building?

Photo by Ryan McVay/Getty Images
Renting apartments and other homes with dogs can pose a challenge, but it's not impossible. Property owners are wary about letting pets live in their rental units - especially dogs. 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 up front 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 up front. The last thing you need is to fall in love with a place only to learn that your beloved dog is not allowed.

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 permitted 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? Even if the lease states "no pets," it's 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 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 - this is bound to backfire. The worst thing you can do is violate your lease and end up with a dog but no home.

Living With Your Dog in a Rental

First and foremost: no matter where you live, it is essential that you act as a responsible dog owner. Your neighbors don't enjoy hearing your dog bark constantly, and they certainly do not want to step in his waste. Always pick up after your dog - not doing so is that fastest way to make enemies of your neighbors. Don't leave your dog alone for long periods of time so he becomes bored and, in turn, vocal and destructive. You should only let your dog run loose in designated off-leash areas, and be sure he is supervise at all times. Bottom line - if the word on the street is that your dog is a nuisance, it's bound to get back to your landlord. This could mean lots of fees and even termination of your lease.

If your dog has even the slightest tendency towards destruction, your best bet is crate training. It's one thing for your dog to chew up your personal belongings. It's an entirely different issue if your dog rips up hundreds (or thousands) of dollars worth of carpeting. Someone has to pay to replace it, and that someone is you. If your dog cannot stay in the crate while you are gone, consider doggie day care or hiring a pet sitter to check in and walk your dog periodically.

Another reason to be a good pet-owning tenant: references. If your landlord has a good experience with you as a renter and pet owner, he is likely to pass on a good reference to your next landlord. This can make renting with a dog an easier experience for you the next time around.

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