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Pets in Rental Housing

Approximately 6 million animals end up in shelters each year and moving-related issues are among the most common reasons for pet relinquishment. An extensive analysis based on 1.1 million classifiable U.S. cat and dog owner surrenders from 24PetWatch, with data spanning January 2018 through September 2020 showed that “housing” accounted for 13.7 percent of owner surrenders.

FIREPAW, Inc. conducted a nationwide empirical research study to determine the factors influencing the availability of pet-friendly rental units. According to the information reported in the landlords’ surveys, approximately one half of the housing is pet-friendly. However, only 9 percent of housing allowed companion animals without any significant limitations on size or type. Approximately one half of rental housing allowed cats, the easiest type of animal to get housing for. Large dogs were the most difficult, with only 11 percent of housing allowing these animals. Most tenants (82 percent) with animals reported having trouble finding a rental unit that would take their pet(s).

Many pet owners are heartbroken at the thought of giving up a family member, but they often don’t know how to make moving with their pet possible. We have put together the following tips to help you and your pet stay together, even when faced with downsizing to an apartment or searching for another rental property.


  • With internet sites like www.apartments.com, you can select search criteria based on the types of pets you have — cats, small dogs and large dogs. With a few clicks of your mouse, you can find dozens of apartments in your area that will accept your pet.
  • Contact your local animal shelter for assistance. Many shelters maintain lists of pet-friendly rental properties and have staff that will assist you with your search.
  • Consider renting from a private landlord instead of a professionally managed property. With internet sites like Zillow, Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist, it is quick and easy to find hundreds of rental properties in your area. Private landlords are often willing to be flexible with pet policies. Below are some tips for negotiating with private landlords.


  • Be completely honest about the number, size and types of pets you have.
  • Tell potential landlords about your good credit and/or good rental history at your initial introduction and provide references from previous landlords if possible. Your credit and rental history are usually the most important factors considered by private landlords. Knowing that you are a good tenant will make most landlords feel much more comfortable about accepting your pets and will often help you negotiate a lower pet deposit — or avoid it altogether.
  • Be sure that your pets are spayed/neutered and fully vaccinated before you begin searching for a rental. Unneutered pets are much more likely to bite, urine mark and stray from the property, and these behaviors can be very costly for landlords.
  • Get a letter of recommendation from your pets’ veterinarian if possible. A good history of caring for your pets will demonstrate that you are a responsible owner.
  • Don’t hesitate to point out other attributes that make you and your pets attractive tenants. Do you have a long-term employment history? Are you quiet and clean? Has your dog had obedience training? Are your cats kept indoors all the time? All of these factors will make you much more appealing to potential landlords.
  • If you do not have a prior rental history or your credit is less than perfect, offer to negotiate an additional pet deposit.
  • Offer to have the carpets cleaned prior to vacating the property and agree to incorporate those terms into your lease.
  • If your pet is going to be traveling by airplane, use airlines that have protections in place for your pet. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the airline’s requirements and prepare several weeks in advance. You may need to get a health certificate from your veterinarian and a certain size and type of pet carrier.
  • When you arrive at your new home, keep your pets secured in a crate or a closed room until you are finished unloading your moving van. Be sure to provide your pet with his/her bed, litter box, food/water bowls and familiar toys as quickly as possible after arriving at your new home.

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