The Complete Guide to Finding Dog-Friendly Housing

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In the United States today, 66 percent of U.S. households currently have an animal companion or plan to get one in the future. Another 46 percent would be willing to move to a new home in order to better accommodate their pet. When it comes to enjoying a home sweet home, animals play a big part. Knowing what makes a home dog-friendly is important.

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Ensure your dog's home is safe and comfortable

If you have a dog and you're considering buying or renting a home, there are many important factors to consider. When you're touring the inside of an apartment or house, check to see if the interior areas are easy to clean. Tile, linoleum, hardwood flooring, and other stain-resistant materials are far easier to clean than carpet should your dog get sick or have a little accident.

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You should also compare the total of square feet listed for each housing option to be sure there's enough space for your dog to be comfortable while inside. If you have an older dog, see if there are any features that are particularly helpful for geriatric animals. Consider a ramp, as opposed to housing with lots of stairs.

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Rental home pet policies and fees

If you're thinking of a rental home, you should also make sure the "pet policy" is clear and fair. You should ask the landlord, property manager, or realty what type of pet fees they have. Some landlords and property managers will be stricter than others with pets.

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The rental laws related to pets and fees are different in every state. Do your research into what your state's laws are in terms of the average costs of having a pet in a rental home. Always make sure that your potential landlord and property management are clear about their policies and rates.

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If you have more than one pet, you will typically not be charged per pet. However, some landlords or property managers charge and cater their fees depending on the pet. Be sure to also do your research on deposits and fees related to pets, as every state is different.

What are pet deposits?

A pet deposit refers to a one-time charge that is also refundable. Similar to a security deposit, a pet deposit will cover any potential damages a pet may cause to a rental during your lease. You should also check if your state charges a certain percentage of the overall rent cost to cover the pet deposit.

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Does a pet deposit apply to service animals?

Service dogs are different than pets in terms of legality. Any fees and restrictions should be waived. However, if a service animal causes damage to the home or is a nuisance — a landlord or property manager is within their right to file for legal action. You will be required to have a written letter from a doctor or therapist detailing the disability and the necessity of your service dog. It is required by law that landlords and property owners make every attempt to accommodate individuals with disabilities.

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What is a pet fee?

A pet fee is a one-time but also non-refundable fee. This fee is to fully allow and acknowledge that the pet will be allowed to stay in the rental for the duration of the lease.

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What is pet rent?

Pet rent is a monthly rental fee for pets. The rent is charged in addition to the standard rental fee. An additional pet rent can help cover any wear and tear to the apartment as a result of having a pet in the home. If your rental has carpeting, painting, flooring, or any other damage due to a pet — this fee covers the cost for your landlord or property manager.

What is the cost range for having a pet in a rental?

The cost of having a pet in your rented apartment or home is different from state to state and property owner. The typical fee ranges from around $200 to $500 in cost. For a pet's rent, a landlord may charge $25 to $100 per month. However, this will also be different from state to state.

Sometimes, you can even negotiate the cost of having your pet with you in the rental. If you have enrolled your dog in a training course (or even better, your dog has completed the course), you can try showing your landlord or management the documentation. Showing that your dog is well trained, might influence their decision.

A landlord might request a pet screening interview and resume

Your landlord or property manager may request a pet screen interview and resume. To help your dog prepare you can try the following in advance:

  • Ensure they are properly trained
  • Teach them basic cues and use positive reinforcement training techniques
  • Use management training techniques for undesired behaviors and habits
  • Provide your dog with socialization exposure to people of all ages and other dogs
  • Go for a walk with them right before the interview to release energy (good for both of you!)

Doing a pet interview and creating a pet resume can help make a positive case for your potential landlord or property manager. An interview can help them get to know your pet better and allow them to ask you any questions. Demonstrate all of the positive aspects of your dog. Highlight their personality and temperament

Unfortunately, certain dogs are sometimes discriminated against by landlords

Unfortunately, there are landlords that often discriminate against certain dog breeds. Sometimes, certain states have what is called Breed Specific Legislation, which this website and staff do not support. Animal organizations such as the ASPCA and the Humane Society are also against this.

Depending on the age of your pet, a landlord may also not be comfortable. Due to their age and naturally playful and messy behaviors, puppies tend to not be allowed by a lot of landlords. If you can demonstrate through training and certificates that your puppy is well-behaved and trained, perhaps your potential landlord will consider them.

However, the banning of breeds does not apply to service dogs or emotional support dogs. This is legal protection under the Fair Housing Act.

Dog-friendly considerations outside of the home

If you're considering housing with a yard, make sure the landscaping doesn't have plants that are toxic to dogs. There are also many plants that are non-toxic to dogs. To keep your dog free from harm, you should also make sure there's a safe outdoor area that's fully enclosed.

When your dog is in a yard, the outdoor area should offer both sunshine and shade. The yard should be comfortable in the area. You should also assess if there would be room for you to build some form of shelter — if needed.

Home buyers and renters with dogs should also look beyond the house or apartment — to make sure their companion animals will be happy and healthy. Be sure to ask if there are nearby hiking trails, dog parks, good veterinarians, and dog groomers nearby. The proximity of these can impact one's decision-making when it comes to buying or renting a dog-friendly home.

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Dog-friendly home search engine options

Whether you're searching for short-term housing, senior housing, a studio apartment, a townhouse, a condo, or a big house, there are plenty of websites that allow you to narrow your search to only include pet-friendly home options.

Here are a few helpful websites to get you started:

ApartmentAdvisor

ApartmentAdvisor lets you filter far beyond one-bedroom apartments versus two-bedroom apartments. You can filter results to list options based on your animal companion, too. Simply select the "pets" category after searching your desired location.

Apartments.com

To find pet-friendly apartment options, search the location where you'd like to live and then click "more" on filter options to view apartments that allow animals.

Hotpads.com

Hotpads has easy-access "pet-friendly" filters. You can also sign up for email alerts so you'll be notified every time an apartment that features your specific needs becomes available.

ForRent.com

Once you select the area you'd like to live in, you'll find a tab at the top of the page to select "pet-friendly" filter options. If available, you'll find both short-term and long-term housing options.

People With Pets

People With Pets is a national directory that helps you find animal-friendly housing. It also lists veterinary care and "pet supply" stores in the area, too.

Rentable

Simply select the area you'd like to live in, and pre-select "Dogs-OK" in your search and you'll be able to pull up available housing options.

Zillow

Zillow provides search results with filters that can narrow your search down to options based on the type and size of your companion animal. Simply select the area you'd like to live in, then select the "more" category. This will allow you to select dog-friendly apartments and houses.

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The bottom line

If you're searching for a new home and you have a dog, knowing what makes a home dog-friendly is important. You should ensure there's enough room inside to keep your dog comfortable. Make sure there's access to important necessities in the yard — and the surrounding community. You can facilitate your search by using helpful websites that allow you to view dog-friendly apartments and houses. That way, you can ensure your home will fit all of your specific needs — and your dog's, too.

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