I am an animal lover, and my pets are my family. So if I go, they go. Leaving my pets behind is never an option or a thought in my mind. That being said, finding a pet friendly place isn't the easiest thing to do. It does take a bit more time, organization, persuading skills and also limits your options. So for all you animal people out there I have put together a few tips to make sure you and your pets are well prepared and have the upper hand when searching for your next home.
Stick with Pet-Friendly Places. This is by and large the best way to move with pets. Search out pet friendly apartments in your new area and then the rest of this list will be null and void for you. Working with like-minded animal lovers is gonna be your least stressful and best option.
Contact Humane Societies. Humane societies, vets and animal control are all great references for finding out what places in your area are pet-friendly.
Even though finding a pet-friendly place would be the most ideal situation it's not always available or realistic. So the rest of this list focuses on what to do everywhere else.
Stay Away from Large Rental Communities. It's much easier to persuade an individual home or condo owner into allowing pets than a big corporate community, when they say "no pets" they mean "no pets".
Ask First. If you're playing around with the idea of getting an animal or you have a friend or significant other with a pet who might move in with you in the future, make sure to ask about the pet rules straight away so you know options are available to you in the future.
Be Honest. The landlord will find out if you have a pet, or that you have more than you told them, so just come out with it right away. That way you will not be faced with an eviction notice, bad referral or any other legal ramifications for trying to keep it hush-hush.
Gather References. Yes, you read that right. I have actually been asked a number of times to supply written references for my cats from previous landlords and neighbors. You should also get a letter from your vet showing that your pet's shots are up to date. And if your dog has been to training classes bring that documentation as well. If you have a prior landlord that says your animal didn't cause any property damage and the neighbors gave them the thumbs up, nine times out of ten you'll be good as gold.
Introduce Your Pet. This tip I would take with a grain of salt. Not all animals are well behaved 100% of the time and some animals need a bit of courting time before showing their true colors. But if you have a great pet that will melt the landlords heart than use it to your advantage.
Show That You Are Responsible. Because pet owners have a harder time finding a place to live, they often make great tenants and stay put longer. Don't be afraid to discuss that with your potential landlord.
Propose a Trial Period. If the landlord is on the fence about it you might be able to push them over the edge by suggesting a short term trial period where they can observe how the animal is getting along in the space and then you can re-negotaite your contract.
Get it in Writing. You often will have to pay a bit extra and throw down a pet security deposit when signing your lease. Just make sure all the terms that were discussed and agreed upon concerning your pet have been written up clearly before signing.
Check out the Humane Society for resources to pet friendly places around the country.
Image: Alysha Findley (my baby kitten, Piper)