Dogs & Home Lease Agreements

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Navigating the rental home market is a challenge, but when you have a furry roommate, it can feel like an Olympic trial. Many landlords and rental agencies are hesitant to rent to pet owners. When you find a pet-friendly rental, it's important for both the landlord and you the renter to have a firm lease agreement stating what is expected.


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Size, Type and Number of Dogs

Your lease agreement should clearly state whether there are any restrictions as to the size and breed of dog allowed in the rental. Although your landlord may not have a breed bias, his insurance company may deem certain dog breeds dangerous and restrict them from an insured rental property. The number of dogs you are permitted also needs to be clearly stated in the lease agreement. The number allowed may vary to conform with local laws and other covenants, as well as lessor prerogative.



Expectations regarding cleanup and proper disposal of waste should be detailed in the agreement. This is especially important if you will share a common outdoor area with other residents. Your landlord should state any requirements for cleaning the rental when you move out in the lease. For instance, one agreement might call for steam-cleaning of carpets while another might call for replacing the carpet upon vacating the unit.

Confinement and Common Areas

Your landlord may require that your dog be crated or otherwise confined when you aren't home. You also may be required to leash your dog anytime he isn't in your rental, and if he is restricted from any common areas, that too should be in the lease agreement. Failure to heed the property rules will put you in breach of your contract, which can become grounds for eviction.


Noise and Complaints

The lease agreement should address barking and other noise limitations. The document should also explain how complaints are handled.

Medical Requirements

If your landlord requires that your dog be spayed or neutered, or if certain vaccinations are required, the lease agreement should clearly explain these facts.


Deposit, Fees and Emergency Contacts

Your lease agreement should state the amount of a pet deposit, if there is one; it should detail any additional monthly or cleaning fees and due dates. It should note whether the deposit is refundable and, if so, what conditions allow for a refund. Your landlord should have the contact information for your veterinarian and an emergency contact who can care for your pet in case of
an emergency.

Get It in Writing


Make sure all of these issues are in writing in both the landlord's and your copies of the lease agreement, and that both are signed. A verbal agreement is not enough protection.

By Jodi L. Hartley


San Francisco SPCA: Guidelines for Landlords
The Humane Society of the United States: Renting With Pets
Dog Law: Negotiating a Fair Lease


About the Author
Jodi L. Hartley has been a writer and public relations professional since 1992. Her experience includes public relations and marketing for a pet service/retail business, as well as volunteer work with animal rescue organizations. Hartley holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and an M.B.A.