Everything you need to know about renting with pets

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Susan Meyer

Senior Editorial Manager

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Susan is a licensed insurance agent and has worked as a writer and editor for over 10 years across a number of industries. She has worked at The Zebr…

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Ross Martin

Insurance Writer

  • 4+ years in the Insurance Industry

Ross joined The Zebra as a writer and researcher in 2019. He specializes in writing insurance content to help shoppers make informed decisions.

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Everything you need to know about renting with pets

When looking for your new home, pet owners should consider a variety of factors to ensure their new home is suitable for their furry friends. While some cities are more pet-friendly than others, studies have shown 31 percent of pet owners have had trouble finding an apartment that allows pets at all, let alone an apartment that allows a larger animals or more “aggressive” breeds.

To help pet owners find a great place faster and prepare for potential issues with their pet, we’ve created the ultimate pet guide for apartments and rental homes. Learn what to look for when house hunting, how to negotiate with your landlord, and what you need to know about renting with dogs vs. cats!


What to look for when shopping for a rental property with pets

When shopping for a rental home or apartment with a pet, there are a variety of factors that need to be considered to keep them happy and avoid losing your deposit come move-out time.

  • Look for trails, dog parks or other walkable activities so that you can take your pup out for adventures. This is especially important if you are looking to move into an apartment where there isn’t much space for your dog to get much-needed exercise.
  • Consider the proximity to the vet and boarding house in case of an emergency.
  • A carpet-free rental will eliminate the chance of staining and make clean up a breeze.
  • A large backyard (or an open floor plan in an apartment) can help give your pet plenty of space to stretch out.
  • A doggie door leading to the backyard is perfect for adult dogs who can be trusted going in and out on their own.
  • A removable showerhead can make bath time easier and can help keep the entire space cleaner.


Landlord negotiation tips

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Once you’ve found a few potential new homes, the next step is to make sure the landlord is okay with your pet. While most applications will list breed and/or weight restrictions, there is always room to negotiate the additional monthly pet rent or deposit. You could also consider adding your pet to your insurance, which can further your negotiation efforts. But we aware that certain breeds or sizes might not be covered under some insurance plans. Below are tips to help you negotiate with your landlord:

  • Be honest with your future landlord about your pet and their size, weight, and behavior. This will help your relationship get off on the right foot and make them far more likely to trust you than if you tried to sneak a pet in.
  • Create a resume for your pet. Include reference letters from previous landlords about the pet's behavior and make sure to list its height, weight, vaccinations and any training he or she has received. This may ease your landlord's mind and aid your negotiation efforts if the pet deposit requirement is particularly high.
  • Introduce your pet to your future landlord. A well-behaved cat or dog may change the landlord’s mind if discussions fall short.
  • Consider extending the length of your lease up front, to show your landlord you are serious about staying and decrease their worry about rental turnover.
  • Don’t sign anything until your furry friend gets approval — in writing — to move in, and make sure you understand the terms of the pet deposit so you can avoid potential issues when you do decide to move out.


Dogs vs. cats: what you need to know

If you are planning to get a dog, or have one already and are shopping for a rental, some easy tricks may make your dog — and your landlord — more comfortable come move-in time. Dogs pose a higher threat in the eyes of your landlord, in terms of sound, damage to the property, and liability issues. To help dispel your landlord's fears, approach the situation with empathy and describe your dog's usual noise level and behavior.

If you end up moving into a smaller space, managing your dog's energy and anxiety levels is key to maintaining a happy home. Take your dog on daily walks to get him or her out of the cramped space, or hire a dog walker to keep your pup fit and happy. Regular trips to the outside world and interaction with other animals will stimulate your dog and reduce its anxiety. Consider rearranging the furniture to allow your pet more room to move around so that they don’t feel crowded. A space of their own will also anchor your pet to your new home: consider a corner with a big bed and their favorite toys.




Cats are easier in many aspects when a rental is involved, as landlords don’t often see them as much of a liability and they require less work to keep happy. However, if your cat isn’t declawed, there’s a possibility for an increase in pet rent or deposit because of the damage their claws can have on the property. And while many pet owners consider declawing an inhumane procedure, landlords don’t always have the same priorities. Outdoor cats are also a red flag for landlords because they can bring fleas and other animals indoors. Vaccination and spay/neuter records may help to ease your landlord's fears and increase your negotiation leverage.

To help increase your pet's happiness in their new space, bring in familiar toys and furniture to help them feel at ease. A variety of high surfaces and cubbies for exploration and hiding can be beneficial — especially as your cat gets used to its new environment. To help goad your kitty out into the open, spread catnip over furniture or toys within reach to encourage relaxing play.




Pet-friendly moving tips

Moving is a stressful time for everyone involved — and that includes pets! The uncertainty of what’s to come coupled with a new environment and transport time spent in a cage can lead to stress and anxiety, and it’s important to take steps to keep your pet calm and happy. This will ensure an easy moving experience for everyone and greatly reduce the risk of your animal acting out. Below are easy steps you can take before, during and after your move into a new rental space to ease your pet's anxiety and prevent potential damage to your new home.

Before the move

As soon as you sign the lease, it’s important to get your new home ready for your pet. While they may not understand what is happening yet, there are steps you can take to reduce their anxiety levels early on so that they stay calm throughout the moving process:

  • Pet-proof your rental. This will help prevent issues when you first move in when pets are most likely to act out by running away or eating things they shouldn’t.
  • Install air filters that catch pet hair.
  • Patch holes in fences to prevent escapes.
  • Take note of any potentially harmful plants in the area that your animal could access.
  • Let your pet visit the new place before move-in to get familiarize them with the space.
  • Spread a recognizable scent throughout your new home, such as your perfume or a familiar air freshener.


During the move

With everything getting boxed up and moved out, it’s likely that your pet will already be showing some signs of stress and anxiety before they’ve even been taken to their new home. But once you reach your new home, confusion can skyrocket, so make sure to set them up with everything they need.

  • Let your pet stay in their old home as long as possible, as this is where they are most comfortable.
  • Pick up some new toys and have plenty of treats on hand to occupy them during the process.
  • Keep your pet in their crate while moving to prevent anxiety, even if your pet is older and well-behaved.
  • Surround them with familiar objects like a bed and toys. Covering their crate with a blanket can also help calm anxious animals and keep them from acting out when traveling.
  • Show the pet where they will eat, sleep, and use the restroom so they have a sense of the layout, then let them explore on their own.


After the move

Post-move, keeping your pet happy is crucial to avoiding long-term issues or potential damages to your new rental. Here are some tips to make sure they stay happy and healthy, no matter how small their new home may be:

  • Spend plenty of time with them in every room. This will help associate good memories with the new house and assure them that even though the house has changed, everything else is still the same.
  • Help them get excited about their new home by playing with them and offering fun treats.
  • Integrate daily walks or trips to the dog park to socialize your dog and get out energy — which is especially important if you live in a small apartment where they don’t have a lot of room to run.
  • Establish routines in your new home to reducing anxiety levels. If your pet is accustomed to morning walks and early bedtimes, continue that schedule in their new place. This will keep a sense of normalcy in your pet’s life until they get used to the new home and an adjusted schedule.




No matter how many precautions you take, renting with pets is always a gamble as they may damage something you are liable for. To help keep costs down and ensure that you are able to leave your rental better than you found it, invest in renters insurance to help keep you and your pet happy throughout your lease.

Sources: Avail | Apartments.com | Moving Insider