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Must Love Dogs: Finding A Pet-Friendly Home

By Shawna Kenney

It can be difficult to find the apartment of your dreams — even more so when home-shopping with a pet. As many of us know, not everyone loves our furry companions. Some buildings have strict a no-pet policy, some discriminate against certain breeds, and others require steep security deposits when a pet is part of the family.

One building owner in North Hollywood, California has made headlines for renting only to pet owners, giving new meaning to the phrase “pet friendly.” It’s not a preference but a requirement, which landlord Judy Gunth has successfully enforced since buying the building 40 years ago.

But most dog-owners aren’t so lucky to have such an option. Ocean Priselac of North Carolina says she had pit bulls before all of the breed-specific bans came about but knows that some people tell landlords their pits are ‘mixed breed.’

“I know that’s shady,” she says, “but a person has to do what they have to do to get a place to live. I’ve never had to pay for any damages.”

Susan Brown Smith, who lives in rural Maryland, chose a direct approach when apartment-hunting. “I told the realtor that I had two small dogs. When I filled out my application, I included a picture of my dogs along with rabies and tag information.” She also took her dogs to meet the landlord beforehand, which she believes helped them all to land in a safe place.

The Humane Society recommends such honesty and resourcefulness in their Renting with Pets tips. Real estate companies ask that pet owners empathize with their concerns, as well. Landlords have differing reasons for their policies, which may range from allergies to protection of personal property or past experiences with irresponsible pet owners.

Anthony Onley, a former landlord in Baltimore, Maryland said that although he is a dog lover, he never rented to pet owners. “Even big fish tanks can be a problem, causing water damage and stuff,” he says. “Renting to people and pets you’re unfamiliar with is asking for problems.”

He says that some landlords ask for veterinary records. “The idea is if that if the potential tenant is willing to present them that means that they’re worthy. If they’re delinquent in the care of their pets, they’ll be delinquent in caring for an apartment.”

Personal references can go a long way, as can an extra deposit. (One study shows that the worst damage to apartments with pets usually maxed at $430). You can also offer to buy renter’s insurance. Overall, just being the “best in show” when it comes to pack leadership makes for happy house-hunting.

Do you and your pack live in a rental place? How were you able to get the green light for your dog? Tell us all about it in the comments.

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