A renter looking for a new place to live gets excited to see listings that boast “Pet-friendly!” only to find out it’s not as friendly as it sounds. Size limits can ruin a relocation search. A big dog is not always a good fit in small apartments and that can lead to noise issues or destructive behavior, according to rental research. There’s also the issue of insurance the rental companies pay and larger dogs can come with a higher premium.
Let’s break down the different speed bumps a pet owner might face when looking for a new place to rent and some creative ways to negotiate.
The Size Controversy
Pet owners like dogs of all sizes, and the most recent research shows an even spread of sizes. Dogs 40 pounds and heavier are owned by 42% of Americans.
On top of that, the Humane Society says 72% of renters own pets. So being pet-friendly is a big selling point for people. Many apartments don’t accept dogs that weigh more than 50 pounds.
The specifics of the dog don’t always matter, it’s just based on size alone, even if you have a 130-pound “Gentle Giant” in your Great Dane.
Larger dogs are thought to be more likely to get cabin fever in small apartments without a big backyard to run in. That could lead to noise complaints or apartment damage. Even if you do get into an apartment with a large dog, you should look for places that have a dog run, dog park, or park nearby so the pup can run off some energy.
Most Blacklisted Dog Breeds
Larger dogs also weed out most of the so-called “aggressive breeds.” These are the dogs that get a bad name whether it’s through media reports of animal attacks, bad owners, or assumptions. The Organization of Responsible Dog Owners lists 75 breeds that are either banned or restricted across the country. They include:
- Pit Bull Terriers
- Staffordshire Terriers
- German Shepherds
- Presa Canarios
- Chows Chows
- Doberman Pinschers
- Cane Corsos
- Great Danes
- Alaskan Malamutes
- Siberian Huskies
Breed-specific legislation (BSL) is when a state or city makes a law that bans certain dogs from rental properties, neighborhoods, or even ownership. As of April 2020, the tide is turning on BSL with 21 states banning this type of legislation, opening the door for more dog ownership.
“There is no evidence to support the notion that some breeds of dogs are more inherently dangerous than others or that banning ownership of certain breeds lowers the bite rate.”
– American Kennel Club
That’s just one step in the “pet-friendly” battle.
Landlords have to ensure their properties
When you rent from a landlord, the person or company needs to have insurance for any liabilities that exist. This is when the landlord decides if the property is going to be pet-friendly. Then the landlord must look at insurance pricing for the various animals and sizes. If the insurance for larger pets, which can include some of the “blacklisted breeds”, is too expensive, they can choose to limit pet size.
Even if the BSL law prevents them from banning breeds, they can still limit the size based on insurance. If the insurance provider won’t give a policy for those breeds, the landlord is stuck between limiting their pet-friendliness or choosing another provider.
The States of Pet Love
Some of these “pet-friendly” battles include consideration of the overall dog ownership in the city or state. Here’s a list of the most and least friendly states according to Safewise.
The top 5 most pet-friendly states
The top 5 least pet-friendly states
- New Hampshire
Can I Negotiate My Dog Into My Lease?
Everything is negotiable, as the saying goes, but you’re probably going to have better luck with a smaller or single property landlord than a big corporation.
The AKC recommends putting together a resume for your pet, discussing all the fine qualities including training and references. In some rental markets, landlords are asking for this.
Here’s a list of what to put on the resume:
- Vaccination History
- Reports of any incidents
- Current photo
You can also ask the landlord for a one-on-one meeting with the dog to show the dog’s temperament. Another option is to offer to pay more of a pet deposit to put at ease any unpaid damage concerns.
What’s With Pet Rent?
Even if you do get into an apartment with your large dog, there’s a good chance you’re going to be paying pet rent. This can be $10-$30 per pet per month. That can add up to several hundred dollars a year fast.
It might seem pet rent is an easy way for landlords to make some quick cash but look around at the property. If they provide potty bags and disposal stations, that’s a cost the landlord incurs and pet rent offsets those costs. The landlord also has to tend to grassy areas frequented by dogs who need a potty break, which adds up the landscaping costs.
You can ask to pay a higher fee upfront and offset the costs of pet rent, but that’s a landlord’s decision. You can expect to pay a $200-$500 fee just for the pet. Sometimes it’s refundable, but many times it isn’t.
The Right Fit Matters
One more word of caution from the AKC—don’t sign a lease that says pets are banned but the landlord verbally says it’s okay. Ask for it in writing. Demand it in writing. If they won’t, you could soon be looking for another place to live because contractually you are obligated to not have a pet.
When it comes down to it, do you really want to haggle about dog size and defend your best buddy with a landlord? The rentals that do accept all dog sizes and breeds are going to be the best home for you and the dog. You’ll also be happy knowing your pal is going to have a lot of dog friends to play with within the rental.
Pet resume: https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/advice/write-dog-resume-landlords/
Pet fees: https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/should-you-pay-pet-rent/
Pet-friendly states: https://www.safewise.com/blog/safest-states-pets/
Renters with pets: https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/increasing-housing-options-renters-pets
banned breeds: http://forums.ukcdogs.com/printthread.php?s=055ae66bb1af1446dc2cb8111e48b9b9&threadid=164936