Young people and urban dwellers embrace apartment life, and progressive cities across the country have made that mode of living more palatable than ever. Apartments feature community living with amenities typically unavailable to many house renters and often at a fraction of the cost.
Swimming pools. Club houses. Basketball or tennis courts.
While apartment living has plenty to offer us humans, our four-legged family members aren’t always as lucky. Many apartment leases prohibit dogs above a certain size; others have noise restrictions. Some apartment leases require hefty deposits for dogs and cats or add requirements such as declawing your furbaby feline.
So, as a pet owner, you have choices to make.
The Humane Society of the United States offers many tips for pet owners to find pet-friendly apartments such as allowing for plenty of time and gathering proof that you’re a responsible pet owner. If you’re an awesome pet owner with an attraction to a particular apartment, there is no reason you can’t make your case to the landlord.
It’s just as the Humane Society says, “Responsible pet owners make excellent residents.“
Well, I live in Norman, Okla., a growing, progressive city on the outskirts of Oklahoma City, a booming metro area in the southern Plains. To describe Norman as a dog-friendly city would be an understatement. Norman is also a college town to boot, meaning campus life and apartments are the norm.
To help the cause, I’ve put together a few tips that could help you make the case for your pet to a willing-to-listen landlord.
Many apartment complexes are corporately held, and their rules are insititutional in nature, meaning they weren’t created by the folks working in the front office. The likelihood is that apartment complex employees are dog and cat lovers, too.
They’re merely following policy.
Express an understanding of the situation and inquire about who could be contacted for a deeper discussion of those rules. Get a name and phone number, perhaps an e-mail address, too.
Draw up a contract addendum
You’ve got a lease to sign, and that’s a contract. But there is nothing keeping you from offering an additional agreement specific to your pet. Assure your landlord that you will be responsible for any damage caused by your pet and any behavior that affects neighbors.
Offer to pay a separate, substantial pet deposit
When it comes to my cat, money is no object. Sure, I am on a limited budget, but I would most certainly offer up an extra $200 to $400 as a pet deposit, over an above what lease would require. Given that your pet is well-behaved, of course, getting that money back won’t be an issue.
Write a personal letter
If your heart is set on an apartment, and you know who the ultimate decision-maker is on such things, write him or her a personal letter. Talk about your pet. Include photos. Make your appeal emotional but succinct and extraordinarily polite.
Reinforce your willingness to sign a separate pet contract or pay an additional pet deposit.
If you’re a responsible pet owner, you almost certainly have a relationship with a local veterinarian. Perhaps he or she would be willing to give you a pet reference.
Better yet, consider asking for references from previous landlords and even neighbors citing how quiet your pet is. Include that information with contacts in your personal letter.
Last but definitely not least, be completely up front about your situation. Honesty is always the best policy, and sprinkle it with empathy and a willingness to go the extra mile to prove your worth as a pet owner.