Apartment Hunting with Your Pup: Tips for Scoring a Great Rental

​If you’ve been a dog owner for a while, you know there are places you simply can’t go with your canine companion. This includes many apartment complexes, where, even if they do accept pets, they don’t always accept dogs or certain breeds of dog. That might be a pain for your apartment hunting process, but there’s often good reason for it. Animals can do their share of damage when they want to (just ask that shoe that paid the price when you left your dog with your mom for a week to go on vacation), and once landlords have had bad experiences with dogs in their rental properties, it can make them gun-shy about renting to a dog-owner again.

That’s why apartment hunting with a dog can prove challenging, certainly more challenging than renting without a pet of any sort. But that doesn’t mean your choice of living spaces has to be reduced as drastically as you may think. If you’re looking for a space that feels like home for both you and your fur kid, here are a few tips to get you started in your search for that perfect apartment.

​1. Put a big ‘X’ through large apartment complexes that don’t have pet-friendly policies.

​No matter what the rules say, there is often some room to negotiate when it comes to renting an apartment. That’s less true, however, at larger, corporate-owned apartment complexes. And even if, by some stroke of amazing luck, a pet-free apartment complex does let you move in with your dog, the place won’t have the amenities that a pet-friendly complex will have. So, start your apartment search by marking off all big complexes that don’t allow pets, and circling the dog-friendly complexes in the neighborhood of your choice instead. They’ll be welcoming AND accommodating.

​2. Better yet, go indie.

​Single-unit rentals and smaller apartment buildings are more likely to have flexible rules than larger apartment complexes. This is especially true if the unit has been on the market for a while and they need to get it rented. So, if you find a loft over a downtown retail store with exposed brick walls in the exact location you desire, don’t write it off entirely just because it says they don’t accept dogs.  Indie owners might be more willing to meet with your dog before making up their minds.

Just remember, when you’re asking an apartment owner for the favor of allowing your dog in when they have a no-pet policy, you are essentially asking them to change the rules for everyone. So, be reasonable. Some people will simply say no, and that’s their right. But it doesn’t hurt to ask.

​3. Go through a property management or apartment location company.

​Property management and apartment locators can speed up your apartment hunt considerably. If you’re looking for dog-friendly apartments in Las Colinas or other Dallas neighborhoods, for instance, free apartment location service UMoveFree will pair you with a licensed real estate agent who can do the leg work on your behalf, contacting property owners and seeing if they accept dogs, or are willing to negotiate on the matter. Other cities have similar services available to renters.

The best thing about an apartment locator or property management company is that they’ll ask all the questions and do any negotiating for you, and you’ll only have to look at properties where you already know your dog can live.

​4. Pay for the privilege.

​Single units and apartment complexes that do allow pets almost always do so with a catch in the form of an additional deposit. So, if you decide to try negotiating your way into a pet-free rental, a pet deposit is a good thing to offer. The more substantial the deposit, the more secure your landlord is likely to feel, and if you’re willing to make part of the deposit nonrefundable, the incentive is even higher fora landlord to take you and your dog in.

A work-around to a large deposit is to list the cleaning methods you will employ when you leave the premises. Professional carpet cleaning will get rid of most of the signs (and scents) that your pet was there, and repairing/repainting baseboards might be a necessity if your dog’s a chewer. Once you pay the bill for the promised clean-up, you can provide your landlord a receipt to show you kept up your end of the bargain and to get your deposit back.

​5. Make sure your pet is covered.

​More and more apartment complexes and landlords require renters to obtain renters insurance these days before moving in, and that’s not a bad thing. You probably know renter’s insurance protects your personal belongings in the case of a fire or other devastating occurrence, but, for pet owners, there’s an added bonus. Many renter’s insurance policies also cover mishaps caused by a pet. If yours doesn’t cover your dog, you should look into getting a different policy.

Pet liability insurance is another type of insurance available for some (not all) dog breeds that can give a landlord a far greater sense of security than renter’s insurance alone. It is often tacked on as a rider to renter’s insurance policies or to umbrella policies, and provides a safety net, should your dog bite, or otherwise injure, someone on the property.

Looking for new digs with a dog is never going to be as simple as looking for new digs by yourself, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for whatever you can find. By taking the extra steps to get your dog apartment-ready, and being flexible on how you search and how much you’re willing to pay, you and your four-legged best friend might be able to land the apartment of your dreams.