Dogs | Cats | June 4, 2018

Pets and Rental Properties

Many years ago, before I was lucky enough to own my own home, I was a renter. A renter who had dogs. It was a problem! I lived and worked in the city, and having 3 golden retrievers meant I really needed a single family home with a yard. In those days before social media and the internet, the only resources available were word of mouth, rental agencies and answering newspaper ads. Eventually, I found the best method of finding a new home was to place an ad myself. This brought a surprising number of responses and was the key to finding my next home.

Nowadays, with the wide reach of the internet and the networking social media provides, it’s easier to search and let the world know you are looking for a rental home. But the problem is still that so many landlords have ‘no pets’ policies. Sadly, this sometimes means that beloved pets end up in shelters because their owners are forced to take what they can get.

A landlord’s priority is to have income from the rent you pay him.  Many have been the victim of a pet-owning tenant whose pet has done some damage to his property and not had it repaired or paid the damages before leaving. We all want pets to be welcome everywhere but if a bad experience has occurred or the landlord wants to avoid that scenario, then who can blame them for not allowing pets in their rental property?

Landlords and Property Managers

There are arguments for both sides of the issue. If you’re a landlord trying to decide if you want to allow pets in your properties, consider these points:

  • Almost 50% of renters have pets. If you allow pets in your property, you will have so many more tenants to choose from. And since you know there are pets in the picture at the outset, you can set rules for them without having to deal with tenants who ‘sneak in’ pets without your knowledge.
  • Pet owners generally make more money, according to Practical Apartment Management, by Edward N Kelly, so they have more funds to go towards rent.
  • Less tenant rotation. Once pet owners find a place that allows pets, they tend to stay longer and pay attention to the rules set by the landlord.
  • Responsible pet owners make responsible tenants. I once had a landlord call me in response to an ad I placed offering me my choice of four locations. Why? Nothing against children, but in his experience tenants with pets were less trouble, more responsible and caused less damage.
  • Generally speaking, pets promote happy and relaxed tenants. Reducing stress means your tenant is more content and likely to stay longer.
  • Collecting a damage deposit is something renters with pets are quite used to.

Tenants with Pets

Maybe you are on the other side of the dilemma. Perhaps you are the pet owning tenant and are despairing of ever being able to find a rental property that accepts them. There are things you can do to improve your chances.

  • Write a resumé for your pet. Include his photo. Explain where your pet came from, how old he is and how long you have had him. Does he have proper vaccinations? Has he had any type of training and is he used to being in a crate or loose at home when you are not there? Talk about his life and what he does with you and for you. Maybe he is a therapy animal who visits the elderly. Perhaps a sport, obedience or show dog. Or maybe he is just your best buddy who completes your life. All these things point to you as being a stable person and a responsible pet owner and tenant, which can go a long way to convincing the landlord to offer you the property.
  • Along with your pets’ resumé, write a cover letter explaining who will be responsible for caring for your pet. When you are not home, where will your pet be? Will he be at daycare? Perhaps he will be sleeping in his crate. Or perhaps he can be trusted to be left loose in the house, or restricted to one room. If this is the case, make 100% sure he will not cause damage to the property, or just as importantly, will not disturb the neighbours. What steps are you willing to take to ensure your pet is not causing damage or disturbing the peace?
  • Along with your letter and pet resumé, have a friend write you a letter of reference. A dear friend of mine with two small dogs once asked me to write her a reference letter when she found a place to rent which suited her, but they had a no pets policy. A carefully worded letter expounding the virtues of my friend and her dogs was enough to convince the landlord to make an exception. Reference letters from former landlords are also extremely powerful tools to have.
  • It’s important to understand the local rules and bylaws for pets in rental housing, from the municipal bylaws down to the strata council rules if you are renting an apartment or condo. Do your research before you apply.
  • In some cases, you might even be able to invite your potential landlord to your current home so he/she can see it and meet your pet as well.

Finally, once you have found that great place for you and your furry family members, be a good tenant. Follow the rules, pick up after your pets, wipe their wet feet before bringing them through common areas, and don’t allow them to disturb the neighbours or damage the property. Keep kitty litter boxes clean and if you are in an apartment with tenants below you, consider a rug to muffle the sound of little nails on the hardwood in the middle of the night. All these things will help you stay in your chosen new home and ensure that other pet owners enjoy the same privileges as you.