Get rates for your pet:

See My Rates »
Retrieve a Saved Quote

A Dog Lover’s Guide to Apartment Renting

By Colleen Williams
published: April 13, 2017 - updated: June 1, 2021 • 3 min. read

As any pet parent will tell you, choosing a home that’s right for you and your four-legged friend(s) can be a stressful process. Renting a property as a dog owner is particularly difficult, since many landlords will refuse to rent to people with animals, and the ones who do will have some restrictions at the very least. If your pet-friendly apartment search is stressing you out, there are some things you can do to help alleviate your worries.

Narrow your search

At the beginning of the apartment renting process, it is essential that you understand some properties will be off-limits to you as a dog owner.

  • Look for properties where pets are specifically allowed—preferably this will be written clearly and explicitly on the property’s real estate listing. Landlords from properties that advertise themselves as pro-pets will typically be more understanding about any pet-related issues you may have down the line.
  • If a property’s website or listing is unclear about their pet policies, don’t be afraid to ask for specifics during the search process.

Read the fine print

When you find a landlord who is willing to take you on as a dog-owning tenant, be sure to read the fine print of any and all paperwork. In addition to the regular red tape and signatures, a pet-friendly tenancy agreement will most likely list specifics about pets in their property, fines in the case of damages, and size or breed restrictions for your pet. Landlords in pet-friendly properties will occasionally impose a “pet tax” or additional fee (sometimes non-refundable) for incidental damage, extra cleaning, or other potential issues. While any agreement is ultimately between you and your landlord, make sure you have everything in writing to prevent complications (or even lawsuits) in the future.

Consider your dog’s needs

Finding a pet-friendly property is partially about building relationships with landlords and obeying tenancy agreements, but your decision should also include the needs of your furry friend. Before signing any paperwork, think about how you and your dog will live in your new apartment.

  • Are there lots of steep stairs leading to the apartment? How will your dog handle them now, and as they age?
  • Is there a bathtub or dog-friendly shower for bath time?
  • Is the area safe and clean for walks at any time of day?
  • Are there parks or other green spaces nearby for your pet to relieve themselves or play with other pups?

If your apartment can’t accommodate the basic requirements, perhaps you should consider finding somewhere more pup-friendly.

Be a responsible renter

Whether you have a pet or not, a landlord-tenant relationship should be based on honesty and trust. Lying about having a dog at move-in and being caught with your pup later will bring you nothing but problems—and a potential eviction notice.

That said, landlords who have previously agreed to allowing pets in their properties will have any remaining worries calmed by several thoughtful gestures on your end: meeting with you and your dog in an informal setting, talking openly about your pet, and receiving a letter of reference from a previous landlord stating that you are a responsible pet parent can all help ease the situation if need be.

Once you’ve moved in, make sure your dog can move around easily without disturbing neighbors or destroying parts of the property; we recommend putting down rugs on hardwood floors, covering or blocking chewable corners, and limiting access to dangerous or off-limits areas with gates or by closing doors. Scheduling some much-needed playtime with other pups or taking long walks will do wonders for the state of your apartment too – dogs just aren’t as destructive if they’re wiped out!

And don’t forget —a responsible dog owner is one who keeps up to date with microchipping, tagging, health checkups, flea/worm/tick treatments, training, leash laws, and socialization.

Kaitlin Krull is a writer and mom of two girls living the expat life in the UK. She enjoys writing for Modernize with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on home projects with confidence.

colleen williams
By Colleen Williams

Over the past decade, Colleen has written about health, wellness, beauty, and even pets for The New York Times, The Cut, Refinery29, xoVain, Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, and Seattle Met Magazine, as well as many beauty brands. She has a BFA in Art History from the University of New Mexico and an AAS in Fashion Design from Parsons School of Design in New York.

Show more