One of the biggest challenges for pet owners is finding an apartment that allows them to rent. Even in cities that have great dog parks such as Boston and New York, it can still be a challenge to find an apartment that will allow your beloved pooch.
If you’re lucky enough to find an apartment that allows dogs, you might still run into another hurdle: breed restrictions!
Breed restrictions are any rental policies that disqualify pet owners from renting if they own a specific breed. Typically these breeds are seen as high risk due to size or perceived aggressive behavior, making landlords wary to rent. Often, it won’t matter if you have a well-behaved dog; just the simple fact that they are of a certain breed is enough for your lease application to get rejected.
The worst part is that it’s not illegal to discriminate against someone for having a certain breed of dog. You won’t be able to cite any tenant’s rights to help your case. However, there are some ways by which you can get around breed restrictions when applying for a lease.
Let’s check them out!
Before we get into how you can get around breed restrictions, let’s take a quick glance at which breeds are typically rejected by landlords:
Of course, this list is not comprehensive. Most landlords will restrict large dogs even if they are other breeds as long as they “look scary”. This idea is problematic because it reinforces negative breed stereotypes and can even cause owners to abandon their dogs.
As a pet owner, you might have even heard one of the most disheartening things from potential landlords: “Well, it’s just a dog, why don’t you find it another home if you really want to rent here?”
You would rightly be horrified at this suggestion since pets are beloved members of your family! You shouldn’t give them up just because it’s more convenient. So, if you’re worried about running into breed restrictions when you rent an apartment, here are six things you can try to get around them.
The most common reason that people with dogs get rejected when applying for a lease is that their dog “looks” like a restricted breed. If you have a mixed breed dog whose breed is difficult to determine, it can be difficult to argue against these claims.
To avoid this problem, you can get a canine DNA test for your dog. Canine DNA tests are cheap, easy, and fast. You can get them done at a local vet or get the test from a canine DNA testing company such as Embark Breed. A canine DNA test will give you a complete lineage of your dog’s ancestry.
Once you have the results, you can use them as documentation to prove that your dog is not a restricted breed. However, keep in mind that this method is not a guarantee that you’ll get approved since landlords can still reject pet owners for any reason. At least this way, you’ll have documentation ready in case breed restriction is the only reason for being rejected.
Another reason that landlords may reject your application if you have a dog is that they are afraid of getting complaints from other tenants. Noisy neighbors are already a pain, and adding a barking dog to the mix is just adding fuel to the fire.
Getting professional obedience training for your dog is a great idea all around. You’ll have a well-behaved pet who won’t scratch up the furniture, floor, and walls, and who won’t bother the neighbors! Professional training schools give certificates for dogs who have completed their program, and you can use this as proof that your dog will be a model tenant (like you!)
It is generally easier to rent from a private owner instead of a rental company since the latter usually have stricter policies with pets. However, private owners or landlords can bend their rules if you play your cards right.
If your dog has undergone obedience training, you can show the certificate to prove that your pet is trained. You can even bring your dog to meet your potential landlord and show them that there is nothing to be afraid of with your pet. If you can prove that your pet does not pose a danger to their property or to other tenants, they will be more likely to approve your application.
You can also try applying for apartment types that are more conducive to pet ownership. Garden apartments might be a better choice for you because of the access to outdoor space compared to walk-up apartments.
Landlords are hesitant to rent to owners with restricted breeds because they want to avoid any financial responsibility, whether it’s due to property damage or litigation. You can mitigate this by getting pet insurance so that you will responsible for any damage caused by your pet.
However, before getting pet insurance, make sure that the policy covers your breed. Some insurance companies have breed restrictions when it comes to dogs. Read all the fine print on your policy thoroughly to ensure that your dog’s breed is covered.
Offering a pet deposit can be a good way to convince a landlord to accept your pet. Keep in mind, however, that a pet deposit is not the same as pet insurance. A pet deposit will only cover any damages in your apartment, but it might not cover damages around the building. What’s more, it also will not act as insurance in case something unfortunate happens between your pets and your neighbors.
Some landlords might accept your lease if you pay “pet rent” -- an extra amount per month on top of your regular monthly rent. Generally, this can range from $10 to $60 per month.
Should you choose the deposit route, make sure that the pet deposit is part of your “refundable deposit”. Get it in writing so that you will be sure that you will get the money back once your lease is over.
When you apply for an apartment, you typically get references from previous landlords to increase your chances of getting approved, right? So, why not use the same method for your dog?
Yes, we’re talking about getting references for your dog!
You can get character references for your dog from either past roommates or from past landlords. While references from people who have lived with your dog before are good, getting a commendation from a past landlord is even better.
Include a testimonial from your old landlord about their experience with you as a tenant, as well as a contact number in case your new landlord has any questions.
According to the Fair Housing Act, landlords cannot deny tenants who have service dogs, including emotional support dogs. Since service dogs do not have any breed restrictions, you can register your dog as an emotional support dog. All you need is a doctor’s note and recommendation to register your pet.
However, there is one HUGE caveat here: before you register your pet as an emotional support dog, make sure that they have the training and temperament that is expected of all service animals. Sadly, many unscrupulous people have tried to register their poorly-behaved animals as emotional support dogs to try and get the perks. This has caused incidents where the animal then acts up in public and caused damage or harm to people or property.
As a responsible pet owner, it is your duty to make sure that your dog will behave well around before you register your dog as an emotional support dog.
Getting around breed restrictions can be tricky, especially if you do have a dog that falls under the restricted breeds. However, as any dog lover would attest, it’s not the breed of the dog that matters, but the training and care that you give it as the owner. While you won’t always succeed in getting around breed restrictions, with some luck, you’ll be able to find an apartment that will approve your application.