As a pet owner, looking for an apartment can be frustrating. Finding the right apartment is hard enough; you have to consider neighborhood, size, cost, amenities and more. But throw a pet into the mix? Fugged about it. It can often seem like landlords have a personal vendetta against all of our furry friends.  So what is a pet owner to do?

Risk of Damage

Whether or not it is the truth, many landlords believe that pets cause damage. I would argue it is negligent owners that cause damage, but that is a discussion for another day.

Dogs can:

  • Scratch floors, molding and woodwork

  • Have accidents in the house

  • Bring in fleas, ticks, and dirt from outside

Cats can:

  • Scratch furniture, curtains, walls and floors

  • Spray urine with a smell that never really goes away

  • Cause damage to household items

Yes, I can report many of these things from experience: see my plant that my elderly cat turned into a litter box or the aluminum siding eaten off my cousin’s house by her dog. Some types of damage may end up costing the landlord, either directly for repair or by lowering the value of the unit. No matter how responsible of a pet owner you might be, it only takes one irresponsible owner to turn a landlord off of allowing pets forever.

Fear of Liability

Although it is unlikely, under Illinois law there is a possibility that the owner or landlord of a property can be sued if a tenant’s animal attacks another person. Also, many landlords can have trouble getting insurance for their property if they allow pets, especially certain breeds or weights of dogs. Even if a landlord is personally pet-friendly, their insurance choices may be to blame for policies. These risks can lead many landlords to just forgo the trouble altogether and not allow pets.

Keeping the Neighbors Happy

You know you love your dog, and when he wakes up at 3:00 am and decides to bark out the window at a sadistic squirrel for an hour you write it off as a cute character flaw. Running across hardwood floors at full speed to greet you? Sure makes you feel loved! But your downstairs neighbor may not be so forgiving. Many people have:

Animal allergies

  • A fear of animals (dogs usually take the heat on this one)

  • Don’t like the mess or smell animals can create

  • Don’t appreciate any extra noise from the neighbors

Many landlords will put keeping the peace over keeping pets, and it’s fairly understandable.

So What Can You Do?

It does seem like the odds are stacked against us pet owners, but there is hope. There are several steps pet owners can take to find a wonderful, pet-friendly apartment.

  • Look for pet-friendly options from the start. When searching online, only consider pet-friendly buildings or use a realtor (like this one) or rental agent who can find pet-friendly rentals for you.

  • Find someone willing to compromise. Individual owners might be willing to make an exception for you and your pet if they find you to be an excellent rental candidate. Be upfront with them at the start and offer to let them meet your pet.

  • Offer to get insurance. If your landlord is still on the fence, you can offer to buy your own liability insurance for your pet. Many renters’ insurance policies offer pet options, just make sure you do your research when choosing a policy. There are also pet liability plans available (like this one) for so-called “dangerous breed” dogs that could help put a landlord’s mind at ease.

  • Pay a pet deposit. If all else fails, money talks. Offer your landlord an extra “pet deposit” if they will allow your pet to stay. This shows responsibility on your part and helps cover the cost of any damage that may occur.

More and more rentals are allowing pets as many pet owners tend to be more responsible and stay put longer. Landlords that do not allow pets are also missing out on almost half of their possible rental pool.   We Chicago pet owners need to keep it awesome by being responsible, thus making us amazing and irresistible tenants. Soon we will have landlords fighting over who gets the privilege of renting to a pet owner!

Any advice on how to rent with a pet? Share with us!