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5 Tips for Finding the Best Dog-Friendly Rental Properties

If you have dogs, finding a quality home or apartment can be a frustrating task.

 |  Feb 19th 2013  |   10 Contributions


Over the years, I have rented home after home for myself and the two Boston Terriers in my life. These experiences have taught me not only how to find the best dog-friendly rentals available but also how to secure a lease amid serious competition. To help you do the same, I put together the following tips.

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My pups, Spot and Dolly, factor into what I look for in a rental home as well as how I approach the search and application process.

1. Be social

When I decided to move from Phoenix back to our home city of Houston, I posted my plans on Facebook and asked for help finding a nice dog-friendly place to live. A friend immediately texted me contact information of a property owner with dozens of rentals in a much-desired neighborhood near downtown. As it turned out, the landlord was remodeling a house he recently purchased and would consider us as tenants.

Do: Enlist the help of friends and other contacts via social media as soon as you set a move date. Many of the best dog-friendly rentals -- those with a pristine interior, despite being home to pet after pet, and a yard in which your pups can play -- never make it to the online listing stage, as owners have potential tenants lining up through word of mouth. Facebook got the job done for me, but Twitter can work well, too, if you have a following in the area where you want to live.

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We ended up moving much earlier, thanks to the help of a Facebook friend.

2. Use Craigslist

If you like living in large complexes, by all means use one of the many online apartment-finder websites as part of your search. I find Craigslist to be the best resource for finding the type of rental I prefer: a small house, duplex, or building owned by an individual rather than a large corporation. In my opinion, the personalized management and yard (if present) make such properties the best dog-friendly rentals. Larger dog-friendly complexes have higher turnover, so managers often don't push to resolve issues such as nuisance barking or piles of poop in common areas. They know complaining or problem tenants will eventually move, solving the problem for them.

Do: Search Craigslist smartly. Click the "dogs" box, of course, and skip over listings that mention move-in specials or resort-style amenities. Both indicate a larger complex, and wouldn't you prefer to pay for a yard rather than a fitness room or coffee bar you will never use? Also, be wary of listings in all caps or mixed case, which are favorites of apartment finders who push the larger, commission-paying complexes.

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I don't need a concierge? Do you? Give me a grassy backyard instead.

3. Have references handy

Any time I plan to move, I ask my current landlord to provide a letter -- usually in email form -- that attests to Spot and Dolly's quiet and nondestructive nature and to my responsibility as a pet owner. We make excellent tenants, and I have the references to prove it. For the Houston rental, I had the letters ready to send, but the landlord said the glowing recommendation from my friend would suffice.

Do: Have both paper and electronic versions of your references ready to provide. When you meet a landlord to view a rental property, attach paper copies to the application if filled out on-site. Include them with the application if sending via email. Competition for rental properties can be fierce, and you do not want to lose a great house or apartment to someone better organized.

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My sweet, well-behaved (most of the time) pups.

4. Suggest a pet interview

During the application process, I always ask the landlord if he or she would like to meet Spot and Dolly. It shows I have nothing to hide about my dogs and their behavior.

Do: Take your pups to the park or for a long walk before any interviews. That way, they arrived pooped and "pooped." Even the most polite pups will get excited when checking out a new place, especially a dog-friendly one with smells left in the yard by previous tenants. While picking up after your dog shows responsibility as a pet owner, it does make for an awkward moment with a landlord you just met.

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Tired pups make the best impression on a landlord.

5. Don't try to negotiate deposits or rents

In most states, owners of pet-friendly rentals can ask whatever they want for a pet deposit. A housing study by FIREPAW found that the average pet deposit ranged from 40 to 85 percent of the monthly rent. Results also showed that only about half of rental properties accept pets, and those that do charge higher rent. Simply put: If you want the best dog-friendly rental available, plan to pay whatever asked.

Don't: Offer less than the stated rent or deposit, as doing so may eliminate you from the running for one of these much-desired properties. In especially competitive markets, you may want to offer slightly higher rent if you know the landlord has a long list of qualified applicants. Houston ranks as one such market, but thankfully I was able to secure our current home using just the first tip on this list.

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Be ready to write a check for the requested amount or risk losing out on the pet-friendly rental you want.

If you are in the market for the dog-friendly rental of your dreams, I wish you the best of luck in your search. So do Spot and Dolly, who are napping outside in our big, fenced-in backyard as I write this.

Please share any tips you have for finding the best dog-friendly rentals in the comments! If you own dog-friendly rental properties, let us know what you look for in tenants.

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