Finding a New Home for You and Your Dog
Finding dog-friendly housing can be tough, especially if your best friend is a “pit bull” or “pit bull mix”. Rejection hurts, but don’t panic! Instead, be proactive and ready to prove to landlords why you and your dog are the perfect tenants.
- Give yourself time! It can take several weeks to find a home that will allow your dog, so plan ahead and be resourceful and persistent. Craigslist is a great resource for dog friendly housing ads. You may want to consider placing a ‘Housing Wanted’ ad on Craigslist while you're there. View our list of landlords who don’t discriminate against breeds.
- Understand the landlords' situation. Many deny certain breeds due to insurance restrictions, especially in the larger multi-unit buildings. Property managers' hands are usually tied, which is why pit bull owners tend to have better luck working directly with owners of smaller properties. Don't get angry - Your calm, can-do attitude can make all the difference in helping a property owner decide if he wants to work with you on these obstacles.
- First Impressions Count. When viewing a pet friendly apartment, it can help to bring your well trained dog with you to meet the landlord. It’s easy to decline dog owners on the phone, but harder when they meet a great applicant and lovely dog in person. Hear them out and be polite no matter how they respond. Many a landlord has been moved to give applicants a try when they demonstrate a willingness to work to address all of their concerns.
- Obedience train your spayed or neutered dog and create an eye-catching pet resume that includes appealing photos and letters of recommendation from your vet, neighbors and trainer to show how well liked your dog is and responsible you are. Describe any arrangements you make for your pet while you’re at work or away on vacation. If your dog isn’t spayed/neutered, microchipped, or rabies vaccinated yet check out our free and low-cost vet services.
- Better than your average dog! - Better than the average dog owner! Many landlords have experienced big problems including property damage from former tenants with dogs - a huge turn off to allowing them in again. How can you prove that you're different? A letter of recommendation from former landlords and/or a Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certificate is golden. The ARL offers quarterly CGC testing and a 10-step video series to help you prepare your dog for the test.
From “pit bull” owner Vuthy Thorn, "Whenever I move from a place, I draft up a letter of recommendation stating that my dogs have never caused any problems, have been quiet, great tenants, etc., and have had no problems getting my current-soon-to-be-former apartment manager/landlord to sign it. It really does help."
To build a pet friendly community, pet owners of every type of dog really do have commit to being awesome tenants. Lay rugs down to avoid scratching the hardwoods. Use a dog crate to prevent unexpected damage, like chewed door frames or urine marking while you're away at work. Pick up after your dog. Don’t let him bark non-stop or annoy others. Don’t let him run loose. Let willing neighbors meet your well behaved pet so they can support you in your ownership: Consider inviting them over to a BBQ for some enjoyable ‘get to know’ time. Wear a thick skin and be polite to those that are rude or afraid. Make it your mission to help them realize you’re a thoughtful, responsible dog owner with a well loved pet and your landlord will happily give you a great reference for your next rental.
- Renter's Insurance. Since liability is every property owner’s biggest concern, buy a renter’s policy that will cover your dog and let prospective landlords know that when you apply. How much? Many will sell a $100,000 liability policy for around $100 a year and for many people it’s already included in their existing coverage! This is a small price to pay to help your landlord feel good about renting to you. View a list of dog-friendly insurance agents for a quote.
- Money Talks. Consider offering an additional pet deposit to cover any damages - or offer to pay any extra costs to help a landlord buy a new insurance policy from a non-discriminatory company. Dog friendly companies and agents listed.
- Stay Honest. Never try to hide your dog or sign a lease that doesn’t allow dogs. You’re much safer if you stay honest and if you have the landlord add your dog’s name and breed to the lease. If you decide to hide your dog, you’re at the mercy of ill-informed neighbors who might turn you in! Landlords are more likely to evict dogs when they’re pressured by neighbors or if they’re caught off guard.
- Let science help you! Someone told you your dog is a pit bull, but the truth is, many dogs identified as pit bulls are actually mixed breed dogs who have been incorrectly labeled. The ARL sells Wisdom Panel DNA tests in our Animal House retail store at ARL Main.
“It was very reassuring to both landlord and potential dog owner...I remember the landlord doing a complete 180 once he had a piece of paper in front of him (the DNA results). Having a printed document was much more official, and if the landlord was worried about being sued if anything happened, it could puts the onus of dog breed identification back on the dog owner.”
- Foreclosures - Know Your Rights! If you learn that your landlord has foreclosed, federal legislation signed by President Obama in 2009 protects your lease. Provided a new owner of the property isn't moving in, you can stay put until the end of your lease, and if you have a month-to-month lease or if the owner is moving in, you are entitled to 90 day's notice before having to move. Ninety days isn't a lot, but it does buy you time to search for pet friendly home. Learn more: Renters in Foreclosure.
- Need more time? If you still haven't found a place to live with your dog, consider boarding him at your vet's office or boarding kennel while you search. Short on cash? Some businesses will allow a work exchange to help pay kenneling costs.
We know how stressful this can be on everyone and wish you the very best luck with securing what you need for your pets and family.
Adapted from BADRAP to link to Iowa resources. www.badrap.org.