Millennials are increasingly forgoing home ownership and instead choosing the flexibility of renting. And while renting an apartment comes with a number of benefits, there also the disadvantages – such as owning a dog. While you can own a dog – and millions of renters do – there are some challenges in play.
Here’s what you need to know in order to ensure you’re both a responsible pet owner and renter.
1. Choose the Right Breed
Landlords know that a lot of renters own dogs, so it’s becoming more and more common to see pet policies. But you can make it easier on yourself when searching for apartments by choosing the right breed.
“People have breeds they love, but if you know you’re going to be in a rental situation over the long term, consider looking into the breeds that don’t shed and are hypoallergenic,” property management firm Green Residential explains. “One of the problems with pets in apartment spaces is that they shed and their hair can get just about everywhere.”
See, the Fair Housing Act doesn’t apply to your furry four-legged friend. A landlord can reasonably deny you based on the type of dog you have. If you’re able to tell a landlord that your dog is small, doesn’t shed much, and is hypoallergenic, you stand a much better chance.
2. Understand the Possible Expenses
Very rarely will you run across a landlord who lets you own a dog with no questions asked. In order to protect themselves, landlords may require any or all of the following: additional security deposit, pet fees, pet rent, property damage clauses, identification tags, vaccination records, and proof of spay or neuter. If you can’t afford these additional expenses, then owning a dog probably isn’t right for you.
3. Openly Communicate With Your Landlord
It’s amazing how much more leeway renters can get on certain issues if they develop and maintain healthy and open relationships with their landlords. Not only should you openly discuss your pet situation on the front end, but it’s a good idea to maintain an open dialogue throughout your tenancy.
If the dog tears something up, go ahead and mention it to the landlord and offer to cover the cost. This is better than the landlord discovering it during a routine walk-through months later. Along these same lines, be a good responsible renter and clean your unit regularly and thoroughly. This will make both you and the landlord feel better about the situation.
4. Never Sneak a Dog In
Under absolutely no circumstances should you ever sneak a pet or buy a dog without telling your landlord.
“If your lease has a no-pet clause and you get a pet, your landlord will have the legal right to ask you to remove the animal from the property,” real estate expert Angela Colley says. “If you want to keep your pet, you’ll have to move. To move during your lease, you’ll have to break the lease and pay hefty penalties, sublet your rental, or work out an arrangement with your landlord to end the agreement early.”
Depending on local rules and the wording in your contract, it’s possible that a landlord could even evict you and then sue you for the remainder of your lease. This may seem excessive, but remember that you would have knowingly broken a rule.
It’s not easy to find an apartment for dog owners, especially if you have a strict landlord. If you’re going to be a responsible renter and dog owner, make sure you’re dotting all of your I’s and crossing every last T. A healthy relationship with your landlord will go a long way towards a positive situation.
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