Pitching a Dog to Your Landlord

People examining papers with a dog

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Do you rent your home and want to get a dog? Congratulations on deciding that you are ready to become a dog owner. Before you can go out and choose the right dog for you, you must find out if you are allowed to have a dog in your rental home.

Are Pets Allowed in Your Rental?

One of the potential drawbacks of renting a house or an apartment is having to accept pet restrictions. Your lease may not state that pets are prohibited, but it may have been implied when you first moved in. Or, your lease may specifically state "no pets" or "no dogs." If this is the case, you likely won't be able to get a dog until you move elsewhere. Do not attempt to sneak in a dog or you could end up facing fines or even eviction.

When you first signed your lease, your landlord will likely have made it clear whether the "no pets" restriction was negotiable or not. However, if you have lived there for a while, it may be worth asking again. Unfortunately, it may be difficult to change your landlord's mind.

Property owners have good reasons for not wanting dogs on rental properties. Irresponsible dog owners are notorious for damaging floors, irritating neighbors, having smelly apartments, leaving messes everywhere, and being obnoxious in general about their dogs. From your landlord's perspective, it may not be worth taking the risk.

How to Ask Your Landlord if You Can Have a Dog

Many landlords may have initially allowed pets in their rental units, but one or two bad experiences likely soured them on the idea. If a previous tenant allowed their dog to destroy a room or barked all night causing numerous complaints, you are going to have a hard time convincing him that you will be different.

You may be able to sway your landlord in your favor if you are willing to sign and abide by a written agreement stating your intentions and obligations as a pet owner. Your landlord may already have such an agreement for you to sign. If not, you may wish to present your landlord with an agreement to show you are committed to being a responsible pet owner.

Sample Pet Agreement for Tenant

I, [name], tenant of [address], agree to abide by the following rules while any dog is in my residence and under my care:

  • Clean up any and all messes my dog leaves anywhere on the property
  • Ensure that my dog is friendly and approachable through training and socialization
  • Prevent my dog from becoming a nuisance through training; this includes barking, jumping up on people, and all other disruptive behaviors
  • Keep my dog secure, supervised and under control at all times; not allow my dog to roam loose off-leash
  • Pay for, repair, or replace any goods or property that have been damaged or destroyed by my dog

I agree that I will take care of my dog's needs, including keeping my dog:

  • Free of parasites (worms, fleas, etc.)
  • Well-trained in basic manners (or will attend obedience classes)
  • Properly socialized
  • Groomed regularly according to the dog's needs (either professionally or done at home)
  • Fully vaccinated as recommended by my veterinarian

Failure to abide by these rules will result in the dog's relocation and re-homing, or the tenant's relocation. The tenant understands that failure to adhere to this agreement is considered a violation of the lease/rental agreement.

Negotiating With Your Landlord

Consider asking your landlord if he has any specific concerns he wants to address and add them to your contract. He may want you to adhere to certain size restrictions, or even have certain breeds he doesn't want in his building. He may ask that you avoid puppies or high-energy dog breeds.

Because your landlord has the ultimate say, it's in your best interest to agree to his terms. It is ultimately his property, and he has the right to set force any rules and regulations that he wants. Your willingness to comply may make him more likely to soften up his demands.

In addition to signing a contract, you should offer to pay a pet deposit. Your landlord may require this even if you do not offer. Offering one before he requires one is a gesture of good faith (or a preemptive strike).

Living With a Dog in Your Rental

If you are able to convince your landlord you let you get a dog, that's great news! If you've agreed to certain terms, be sure to honor them when searching for your new dog. Once you have found your new canine companion, it's essential to follow the terms of your agreement while living in your rental home with your dog. This will not only make life easier while you live in the rental; it can also help you get a good reference from your landlord if you eventually move out and need to rent another property.