We all know how challenging it can be to find the perfect rental that not only suits our lifestyle but also welcomes our soulful sidekicks. You've been scrolling through listings for days, and you finally found your dream apartment – but there's one little hiccup: it has a no-pet policy.
Fear not, pet parents! We've got your back with some helpful tips on approaching your landlord and a ready-to-use letter to appeal that policy. Let's get started.
A growing issue
Pet restrictions in rental properties can create a variety of challenges for renters, especially for those who are pet parents or considering becoming one.
Despite the fact that over 78% of rentals claim to be pet-friendly, according to the Humane Society, these often include major restrictions and fees which can result in dire situations for renters who love their pets but face homelessness if they keep them. Not only is this wrong and inhumane, it's also something that disproportionally impacts low-income pet parents.
Some potential negative impacts of pet restrictions include:
Limited housing options: Pet restrictions can significantly reduce the number of available rental properties for pet owners. This can make finding a suitable home more difficult and time-consuming, especially in urban areas where pet-friendly rentals might be scarce.
Higher rental costs: Due to the limited availability of pet-friendly rentals, pet owners might face higher rental costs as they compete for these properties. Additionally, pet-friendly rentals may charge additional fees or deposits, which can further increase housing expenses.
Reluctance to adopt pets: Pet restrictions can discourage people from adopting pets, even if they are passionate about animal welfare and would provide a loving home. Potential pet parents might be concerned about the challenges of finding pet-friendly housing or the potential for future relocation difficulties.
Emotional distress: Pets provide emotional support and companionship to many people, and being forced to give up a pet due to housing restrictions can cause significant emotional distress. In some cases, pet owners might have to make the heartbreaking decision to rehome their pets or surrender them to shelters.
Pet abandonment: In extreme cases, pet restrictions can lead to pet abandonment when pet parents are unable to find suitable housing or unwilling to surrender their pets to shelters. This not only causes emotional distress for both the pets and their owners but also contributes to the problem of homeless animals.
Reduced quality of life: Pets can greatly enhance people's quality of life by providing companionship, emotional support, and opportunities for exercise and socialization. Pet restrictions can deprive renters of these benefits, ultimately impacting their overall well-being.
To mitigate these negative impacts, it's essential for pet parents to be proactive in advocating for pet-friendly housing and working with landlords to establish clear and fair pet policies.
1. Do your homework
Before you reach out to the landlord, make sure you know the rules and regulations about pets in your area. Research local pet ordinances, breed restrictions, and requirements for registration or vaccinations. Being well-informed will show your landlord that you're responsible and proactive.
2. Gather references
Got a friend who can vouch for how well-behaved your dog or cat is? Ask them to write a reference! If you have previous rental experience with your pet, ask your former landlord or property manager for a letter of recommendation. These endorsements can help put your current landlord's mind at ease.
3. Create a pet resume
Yes, you read that right! Put together a pet resume that showcases your pet's best qualities, including breed, age, size, vaccination records, and training certifications. Include a cute photo, too! This document will demonstrate that you're a dedicated pet parent who takes their responsibilities seriously.
4. Offer a pet deposit
One of the primary concerns landlords have about pets is potential damage. Ease their worries by offering a refundable pet deposit. This shows that you're willing to take financial responsibility for any damages caused by your pet.
Pet-restriction exception letter template
Now that you're armed with these tips, it's time to craft the perfect letter to your landlord. We've got a template ready for you to personalize:
Dear [Landlord's Name],
I hope this letter finds you well. My name is [Your Name], and I am a current tenant at [Rental Property Address]. I am writing to respectfully request a reconsideration of the no-pet policy at our property.I understand that there might be concerns about property damage, noise, or cleanliness. However, I am committed to being a responsible pet parent and addressing these issues head-on. To demonstrate my commitment, I have taken the following steps:
1. Researched local pet ordinances and ensured that my pet complies with all requirements.
2. Gathered references from previous landlords and friends attesting to my pet's good behavior and my responsible pet ownership.
3. Created a pet resume highlighting my pet's breed, age, size, vaccination records, and training certifications. (Please find the resume attached.)
4. Offered to pay a refundable pet deposit to cover any potential damages caused by my pet.
My pet, [Pet's Name], is a well-behaved [Breed/Species] who has been a part of my family for [Number of Years/Months]. [Pet's Name] is house-trained, socialized, and up to date on all vaccinations. As a responsible pet parent, I am dedicated to ensuring that [Pet's Name] is a positive addition to our community. I understand that allowing pets in a rental property is a significant decision, and I appreciate your time and consideration. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at [phone number or email address].
Can a landlord abruptly change their mind about allowing pets?
Landlord-tenant laws and regulations regarding pet policies vary depending on the jurisdiction, so it is essential to be familiar with the local laws in your area. Generally speaking, landlords cannot randomly declare a no-pet policy if a lease or rental agreement already allows pets, as doing so would be a breach of contract.
If the lease or rental agreement does not specifically address pets, the landlord may have more flexibility to implement a no-pet policy. However, they typically must provide tenants with proper notice before the new policy takes effect. The notice period may be defined by local laws or the terms of the rental agreement.
When a lease or rental agreement expires and is up for renewal, a landlord might be able to change the pet policy as part of the new lease terms. In this situation, the tenant would have the option to either accept the new terms or look for alternative housing.
It is crucial to note that there are exceptions for service animals and emotional support animals under the Fair Housing Act in the United States. Landlords are generally required to make reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities who rely on such animals, regardless of the property's pet policy.
In summary, while landlords have some discretion to implement or change pet policies, they must usually follow legal procedures and abide by the terms of existing rental agreements. To better understand your rights and obligations as a tenant or landlord, consult local landlord-tenant laws and consider seeking legal advice if necessary.
Resources for renters facing eviction with pets
If you are facing eviction or being forced to leave your rental property due to your pet, it's essential to know your rights and seek support. Here are some helpful resources for renters in this situation:
Local Legal Aid: Legal aid organizations provide free or low-cost legal assistance to individuals who cannot afford a private attorney. They can help you understand your rights, review your rental agreement, and provide guidance on how to proceed. You can find local legal aid offices by searching online or contacting your state's bar association.
Tenants' Rights Organizations: Many cities and states have tenants' rights organizations that provide resources, support, and advocacy for renters facing housing issues, including pet-related disputes. Search online or reach out to your local government's housing department to find organizations in your area.
Humane Society of the United States (HSUS): The HSUS provides information about pet-friendly housing and offers resources for renters facing eviction due to their pets. Visit their website (https://www.humanesociety.org) for more information on pet-related housing issues.
Fair Housing Agencies: If you believe you are being discriminated against due to a service animal or emotional support animal, contact your local fair housing agency. They can help you understand your rights under the Fair Housing Act and provide assistance in filing a complaint if necessary.
Online Forums and Social Media Groups: Connect with other renters and pet owners who have faced similar challenges through online forums and social media groups. These communities can offer advice, support, and recommendations for pet-friendly housing.
Local Animal Shelters and Rescue Organizations: Reach out to local animal shelters and rescue organizations, as they may have resources or suggestions for pet-friendly housing options. They might also be able to connect you with other pet owners who have experienced similar challenges.
Lizz Caputo is a Content Strategist at Figo, animal enthusiast, and owner of a rescued senior American Bully. Her hobbies include checking out new restaurants in her area, boxing, and petting dogs of all shapes and sizes.