This publication explains how to get around both pet and breed restrictions when renting. Finding an apartment that permits certain pets or breeds can be a big problem for pet owners. And even if you manage to locate an apartment without no-pet policies, breed restrictions might still be a setback.
Pet & breed restrictions: what these mean
Pet restrictions and breed restrictions are two different terms. While pet restrictions prohibit certain pets in an apartment, breed restriction narrows down to specific breeds and their hybrids. For example, more than 30 cities in Arkansas have banned pit bulls—KKYR.
a. Breed restriction
Breed restriction policies in a rental prevent you from bringing a particular pet breed to the apartment. Typically, the restricted breeds are considered high-risk—it could be due to their size or reported violent nature, making landlords hesitant to accommodate them. Thus, if your pet dog is of a particular banned breed, your lease application will be disapproved, regardless of how well-behaved it is.
It’s not a crime to discriminate against owning a certain pet breed (just for a pet) if they’ve been restricted. If the apartment is not well prepared for certain breeds, the property manager or landlord may decide to ban them depending on certain size and weight—HG.org. Apart from landlords, breed restrictions policies could be set up by property management companies, insurance companies, or even the city or county.
Breed restrictions are put in place to protect neighbors against harmful or aggressive breeds, particularly pit bulls, in terms of dogs. As such, when you apply for an apartment, the manager or landlord will take measures to verify the breed of your dog. The belief is that probably only fewer attacks or dog bites will be recorded within the apartment community. If you don’t know your pet’s breed, get a DNA test done. Visual breed or breed-mix recognition can be tough.
b. Pet restrictions
As mentioned earlier, some apartments prohibit certain pets. But this does not stop people from hiding their pets in the apartment, unfortunately, it’s a lease violation. Nonetheless, we’ve discussed how you can hide the following pets from your landlord (if restricted):
Again, smuggling in a restricted pet is a violation and can get you a bad rental history. Nevertheless, you could risk faking your rental history to potential landlords.
How to get around pet restrictions
In this section, you’ll get tips on what landlords might consider to allow your restricted pet. If your problem is a breed restriction, scroll to the next section.
In the meantime, do the following to get around pet restrictions:
1. Ask the landlord or manager politely
An apartment may have no pet policies on their rental advertisement but they may be willing to make an exception if you can prove that your pet is different. And if your previous rental history with the pet is decent, then the landlord may be willing to consider your request.
2. Have a pet resume
A pet resume showing their best qualities can convince a landlord to accept your request to bring in a restricted pet. Don’t wait for the apartment to ask for one. Your pet resume can include a concise introduction of your pet (name and age), breed information, (and any positive attributes of the breed), weight and size, quietness, health summary (detailing regular flea treatment), and additional training documents, including classes and other extracurriculars.
3. Provide a reference
Consider obtaining a reference from a previous landlord describing how your pet is well-behaved and won’t contribute to wear and tear.
A photo of your pet looking its best self will go a long way. It’ll also help if you work remotely from home, meaning you’re available to care for the pet and prevent damage.
4. Present current vet records
Submit up-to-date vet records showing your pet’s good health and properly cared for. Generally, veterinary medical records are considered privileged and confidential and are released by your consent alone. That said, a landlord can’t obtain copies or summaries from the veterinarian unless you request them.
5. Offer to pay an additional pet deposit
Paying an extra pet deposit means you’re willing to fix any potential property damage caused by your pet. This makes you responsible for your pets and convinces the landlord to make an exception.
Some states don’t allow additional pet deposits though. If you’re renting in such a state, the landlord may only recuperate any losses by charging pet rent. In this case, you have to pay a little bit of extra pet rent to exclude your pet from the restriction.
6. Offer to make an additional pet fee payment
Meet your potential landlord and offer to pay an extra pet fee, which is different from a pet deposit. A pet fee is a one-time and non-refundable fee paid for services like professional cleaning and pest control service.
How to get around breed restrictions
There are several ways you can circumvent breed restrictions when making an application for a lease. Below are ways to get around breed restrictions when renting an apartment:
1. Verify your pet’s DNA
When applying for a lease with your pet, a common reason for disapproval is that your pet is a restricted breed. You can’t refute the accusations, even if you have a mixed breed. However, you can begin by having your dog’s DNA test to help you prevent this problem.
A DNA test is simple and quick—you can get the test from a DNA testing company or have it performed by a vet. You can then get to know your pet’s ancestry by taking a DNA test.
When you obtain the results, use them as proof to show that your dog is not a restricted breed. Note that this approach does not ensure that you will be accepted, since landlords can disapprove applicants with pets for any reason.
2. Get a pet professional training
Due to worries about receiving complaints from other tenants, a landlord may reject your application if you have a pet. A barking dog, for instance, just makes things worse for neighbors who would go through the stress of shutting them up.
Your pet will benefit from receiving professional obedience training—they become well-mannered and may not destroy the furniture, flooring, or walls or annoy neighbors. When a pet completes a training program, they are awarded a certificate, which you provide as evidence that they are well-behaved.
3. Rent an apartment from private owners
Don’t rent from a company, rent from a private owner instead. Rental agencies typically have tougher pet regulations whereas some private property owners or landlords might be willing to relax their rules to accommodate the pet.
You should take your pet with you when meeting your potential landlords to reassure them that your pet is harmless. They’re more likely to approve your application if you can demonstrate that your pet poses no threat to the property or the safety of other tenants.
Alternatively, you could try applying for an apartment that allows pets. Garden apartments may be a better option for you than walk-up apartments due to additional outdoor space.
4. Get pet insurance
Due to their desire to absolve themselves of any financial liability, including that incurred as a result of property damage or legal action, landlords are reluctant to rent to individuals with restricted breeds. Thus, with pet insurance, you can mitigate risks while being responsible for your pet’s damages.
Be sure that the policy you purchase covers your breed. There are breed restrictions for pets with some insurance companies. To make sure your pet’s breed is covered, carefully read the specifics of the policy.
5. Offer a pet deposit
Another way to get around breed restrictions is to offer to make a pet deposit. Pet deposit covers damages to the apartment caused by your pet—it’s required before signing the lease. A pet deposit is also similar to a security deposit, thus, the property manager returns it once the lease ends, just like a security deposit.
6. Offer more for the pet rent
Pet rent is an add-on fee to your monthly rent that covers the cost of having pets on the property. Note that pet rent is not refundable and is charged anywhere between $50 to $200 a month.
To get around the breed restriction, you want to offer more money if you want your pet to move in with you.
7. Get your pet a resume
Get your pet a resume summarizing their:
- best qualities
- medical history and
A pet resume proves to your potential landlord that you would be a responsible pet owner. Apart from showing your pet’s best qualities, a resume also validates that your pet won’t be a problem for other tenants and pets.
8. Obtain references from previous landlords
Obtain references from previous landlords when applying for an apartment to try getting around the breed restrictions for your pet. Get your previous landlord, neighbors, or roommates to provide character references for your pet.
You should also include a reference letter from your previous landlord outlining their experiences with you as a renter, along with a phone number in case your potential landlord has any inquiries.
9. Register your pet as an ESA or service animal
Fortunately, there are no breed restrictions under ADA and FHA. Thus, let’s say you’re disabled with a restricted dog breed like pitbull, rottweiler, or husky, as your emotional support or service dog, the landlord must still accommodate you and the service dog.
You must also note that a service animal is a working animal, not a pet. The work of the animal provides must be directly related to the disability of the owner. If your pet’s sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support, they do not qualify as service animals under the ADA—University of Washington.
Reasons apartments have breed and pet restrictions
Most apartments have pet or breed restrictions due to the following reasons:
Breed restriction laws in some cities and counties prohibit housing certain breeds. As such, a landlord needs to follow the law.
b. Insurance companies
Apartments have to follow their insurer’s list of restricted breeds or pets.
c. Landlord’s decision
Your potential landlord or management firm may decide to impose breeds or pet restrictions, typically due to past experiences with other renters.
d. Other neighbors
A next-door neighbor may be the reason a landlord or property prohibits certain pets or breeds of pets.
Lease violations: what a landlord can do
The landlord or property manager overseeing tenants and contracts can prohibit pets or breeds in the apartment following the law.
Moreover, the contract generally explains if your pet or a particular breed is allowed on the property. If you go ahead and house the prohibited pet or breed of pet, you violate the lease contract or agreement and can be evicted by the landlord.
The landlord may need a lawyer and litigate against the renter for keeping a restricted pet on the property or causing damage.
If a landlord must litigate against the tenant for keeping a pet or specific pet breed against the contract or agreement, they can use the situation to collect damages for the lease violation. In some cases, a landlord may acquire additional compensation above the security deposit.