Renting with a pet

One of the biggest challenges facing apartment hunters is finding a place that allows pets. There are numerous restrictions on animals, sizes and breeds in every apartment complex, so it can be tough to settle on an apartment in your price range that will also accept your pet. Cats usually aren't a big deal because they are self-reliant and aren't much of an insurance risk because they typically don't bite. Dogs, on the other hand, can be a large liability for landlords to overcome since there are so many things that can go wrong by allowing dogs in a building, including health concerns, property damage and potential lawsuits resulting from attacks.

If you're looking to rent an apartment and have a pet, then your housing search may be a bit more difficult but not impossible. Here are a few tips to help you secure a place that's perfect for you and your pet.

1. Get all the details
The first step to scoring your next pad is to find out all the specifics ahead of time. Look at all the available listings and weed out the ones that explicitly don't allow pets. This will save you time and make your search more fruitful.

Call in advance to confirm that the details in the listing are correct and schedule a date to meet with the landlord so you can make sure that pets are, in fact, allowed. Then, if you're confident in your decision, ensure the agreement is stated in writing in your lease so that there aren't any holdups later on. Further, by having everything documented, your landlord won't be able to change his or her mind down the road.

2. Don't go big
It's true that having a pet will severely limit the apartments that are available to you, especially large condos or complexes. Because landlords and building owners have so many units in one location, they usually adopt a one-size-fits-all policy and ban pets of all kinds. This makes things easier for them because it draws a sharp line in the sand.

Avoiding these types of places is key because it's highly unlikely that your pet will be accepted. That's why it's better to look at smaller, family units or three-story walkups that are more welcoming to pets. The landlords of these buildings are much more likely to work with you because they have fewer units to maintain and worry about.

3. Work out a deal
If there's any flexibility at all with a landlord, do what you can to ensure that you are a responsible tenant and have full control over your pet. Give references if necessary and agree to additional conditions if warranted. You may be required to pay a one-time pet fee or have a higher security deposit in advance of moving in simply because landlords want to make sure they are receiving compensation in the event a problem occurs.

4. Be prepared to pay more
On top of fees, you'll likely have to pay a higher monthly rent altogether. Places that allow pets are typically accompanied with longer leases or more expensive rent. This is because landlords will go ahead and factor in additional expenses from the start and charge more monthly because you're essentially caring for another living being rather than just yourself, which means you should be charged accordingly.

Don't be discouraged by higher prices, however, and make sure you have the proper renters insurance plan to go along with your new apartment. Though many tenants forgo insurance, it can be purchased for as little as $10 a month in many places.

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