If you don't own your own home, pet ownership can seem a little risky. What happens if and when you have to move? Just because your current landlord is okay with pets doesn't mean your next one will be as accepting. Moving is one of the most common reasons why pets are surrendered to shelters. Pet owners often think they have no choice but to give their animal up for adoption. It might be unavoidable in some cases, but for many people, there are ways to find housing that will allow both you and your pet to take up residence.
Scour the Internet!
The Internet makes the search for housing much easier than it ever was. Now you can compare apartments side-by-side. My favorite tool is Craigslist. There are far more listings there than anywhere else, because it doesn't cost a thing to create a listing. When you search, you can select 'cat friendly' or 'dog friendly'. If you have a pet other than a cat or a dog, you should ask first if they allow small pets like rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas, or hamsters. When a landlord says 'no pets', they almost always are referring to cats and dogs, and they may be willing to consider smaller pets that are caged.
Ask About Pet Policies
My boyfriend and I had some difficulties in finding an apartment that would accept our three cats. When we first moved in together, I had two kitties and he had one. Of course, we didn't want to give any of them up, so we were willing to squish into his studio apartment until we could find a larger place that was within our price range and would allow our cats. Lo and behold, we did it! Still, it wasn't easy. While many places allow cats, they might have a limit as to how many. If you have more than two, it may be a challenge to find a landlord willing to take you in. It's NOT impossible, though! There are landlords out there who love cats just as much as you do, and they would be more than willing to make some sort of accommodation for you.
So, when you do find a listing that says they allow pets, make sure to ask them the specifics. Do they require extra pet rent or a pet deposit? What are their limits as far as how many or what types of pets? Are there restrictions on certain dog breeds? Know the specifics first.
Spay and Neuter!
A great way to show your future-landlord that you are a responsible pet owner is to let them know that your pets are spayed or neutered. Sometimes, they want documentation of this, but if they don't ask for it, let them know up front.
One thing cat owners should be wary of is that some landlords require a cat to be declawed. If you your cat isn't declawed, and you aren't comfortable with that, either look elsewhere or explain that while you are very interested in renting from them, that you aren't comfortable with declawing. If they insist, offer to pay an extra deposit if that's an option for you. There are no laws against making deals.
Keep it Clean and Quiet
If you are already living in an apartment but are interested in moving, you will find it much easier to do so if your current landlord likes you. If your pets are quiet and you keep things clean and damage-free, your landlord will be more than willing to give you a recommendation if you find a new apartment that seems a little skeptical of allowing pets. Hearing good things from a potential renter's current landlord can make all the difference when they choose who to rent to.
Give a Little, Keep a Little
When looking for a pet-friendly apartment, you may have to sacrifice a little in order to bring your furry friend with you. The only options available might be smaller or have fewer amenities than another apartment that doesn't allow pets. You might have to spend a little more on rent or security deposits. These are sacrifices you may have to make, but they are well worth it, if that means you can keep your pet.
Think about it―would you rather have a few hundred extra square feet and a dishwasher, or would you rather have a smaller place where you have to do your own dishes but get you keep your cat/dog/rabbit/hedgehog/fish? If you truly love and care for your animals like I do, I think that decision is a no-brainer.
Our lives are obviously more complicated than those of our furry companions. While you're trying to find a new place to live, they might be trying to find their favorite toy that fell underneath the couch or the perfect spot on your bed to lie down for a nap. When it is time to move, though, knowing they'll be there with you will make moving a lot easier.