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Finding an apartment that you love can be a challenge on its own, but having a dog can make the process extra complicated. With landlords worried about everything from liability to allergies, they can often rhyme off more than one reason why their building doesn’t allow pets—leaving you and your pup on an apartment search the never seems to end.

However, by looking at the right rentals and learning to enhance your application, you can fast track your apartment hunt. Here are some essential tips to finding the perfect apartment for you and your furry friend.

Look for Key Terms & Ask Questions

Pet-friendly and dog-friendly are two terms that you want to be on the lookout for. These terms not only help you search for apartments more efficiently, but they can also save you headaches down the road. Generally, a dog-friendly apartment that actively promotes furry friends are welcome is less likely to give you issues—especially compared to a complex that begrudgingly lets your pup in.

Nevertheless, it is important to note that pet-friendly and dog-friendly aren’t all-inclusive terms. If a listing doesn’t detail what their pet policy covers, don’t be afraid to ask. It isn’t uncommon to find restrictions in the fine print about breed, size, and number of pets. Some contracts may even ban pets from common parts of the building, like the elevator or patio. It is always best to inquire about the specific policy of a building to get the best feel for whether it will be a good fit for you and your dog.

Know Where to Start

Where do you find dog-friendly apartments? Starting your search in one of these areas can get the ball rolling. And remember, the more time you give yourself for your search, the less stressful—and more successful—your apartment hunt will be.

Contact the Humane Society. Often, they can give you a list of apartment buildings in your area that allow pets.

Talk to Pet Owners. Whether this is friends, family, or owners at the dog park, they may have advice on which buildings are best for dogs—as well as which ones to avoid.

Check the Local Newspaper. While the classifieds in the newspaper are less popular, they do still come in handy! As a bonus, not as many people look here so you could end up with less competition if you put in an application.

Search Online. Sites like Facebook, Craigslist, and rental websites are all great places to start your search. Plus, many online options allow you to filter listings by “pet-friendly” or even “dog-friendly”.

Show Landlords You’re Responsible

Landlords are often worried about the liability and damage that can come with a dog, especially larger breeds. To nip this in the bud, you want to show from the get-go that you are a responsible owner and that your dog is well-behaved. A few ways to showcase this include:

A Reference Letter. Tried and true, this classic may be all you need to secure an apartment. A letter from a past landlord that can vouch for you and your dog will often go a long way.

A Dog Resume. A pet resume is a tool that helps persuade a landlord that your dog is the best possible candidate for an apartment. This document often includes training and vaccinations, but may also contain a photo, a tidbit about their personality, and even a blurb about you as a pet owner.

A Meet and Greet. Great for sociable dogs that take well to strangers. If a potential landlord agrees to this, it can give you a chance to show off your dog’s training and personality. Think of it as an interview for your dog, meaning top-notch grooming for the occasion is highly recommended.

Pet Fees. It isn’t uncommon for pet-friendly apartments to charge a bit extra, so showing you are aware of these fees and willing to pay can prove you’re serious about your application. These extra fees may come in the form of:

– A one-time, non-refundable fee.

– A refundable damage deposit.

– An additional fee tacked onto your monthly rent.

Be advised that many states and cities have placed a limit on these fees, so know your rights.

Get It in Writing

While we hope that you and your pooch get to live peacefully in your new home, the reality is pet-related tenant issues are common. Unfortunately, a verbal agreement and handshake won’t protect you if you have problems that arise down the road, so get your agreement in writing.

A Pet Addendum. A pet addendum is an additional page of a rental contract that deals explicitly with pets. It states that your landlord agrees that you can have a dog, outlines your responsibilities as a pet owner, and lays out any pet fees.

The Rental Contract. Scan through to ensure that no clause states you can’t have pets. If there is one, request a new copy with the clause removed or get your landlord to cross it out and initial. However, a new copy is always best.

Be Honest

And finally, don’t try to sneak your dog into a building with a no-pets policy. If you absolutely love an apartment that doesn’t allow pets, you can always try to persuade the landlord with some of our tips under ‘Show Landlords You’re Responsible’. However, if their answer is still no, move on. Moving into an apartment that doesn’t allow pets will only lead to stress for both you and your dog. Not to mention, this act can have some rather hefty legal implications if you get caught. All-in-all, it isn’t worth it.

Knowing where to look and how to put your best foot forward—or should we say paw—will go a long way in helping you score the perfect dog-friendly apartment. Before you know it, you and your dog will be moved in and living your best life. Plus, by doing so legally, you can have complete peace of mind.

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