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Norwich Bulletin - 2/14/2011

Rent With Pets

Stop calling and telling me that you are moving and need to get rid of your cat within two days. I am not going to help you. However, if you call me months before you are ready to move, I will help you find a rental that will allow pets and/or tell you how to move cross-country with your old cat so there is no stress for either of you. If you wait until the last minute to consider your pet, my first question will be, did you forget you have a cat or dog (or both), and my second will be why didn't you find a place to move to with your pet?

There are steps to take when looking for pet friendly housing. The first and very important step, being to give yourself enough time to find an apartment or house to rent that will allow you to keep you cat or dog. You need to start checking ads, contacting real estate agents and rental agencies at least two months before your lease expires.

There are also pet rental websites such as www.rentwithpet.org that will provide information all across the United States.

Of course you need to understand that many landlords have had bad experiences with irresponsible pet owners and their property has been damaged, so you have to be able to sell yourself as a person committed to providing responsible pet care and of being a considerate pet owning neighbor.

If you are not internet savy, then start your search by calling resources that can help you find what you are looking for. Contact the humane society or animal care and control agencies serving the area into which you are moving and see if they can provide you with a list of apartment communities that allow pets. If you know a rental agent that has pets of his or her own, perhaps you can find a sympathetic ear and have a better chance of them finding you a pet friendly rental.

You can also check the community apartment guidebook that is put out locally in the area you are moving to and they may have something that indicates which apartment complexes allow animals, as well as any restrictions that may apply. Large apartment complexes with definite no pet policies are probably not a good place to start looking. You are more likely to be successful if you focus on places that allow some pets or smaller complexes where the landlord has the ability to be flexible.

Then you need to sell yourself. Gather documentation to share with any potential apartment owners, including, a letter of reference from your current landlord or condominium association verifying that you have always been a responsible pet owner; written proof that your dog has completed or is enrolled in a training class and a letter from your veterinarian stating you have kept up your pet's vaccinations and that your pet is spayed or neutered (which makes for a calmer pet and one less likely to pee all over the aparment).

Go straight to the top when making your request. Find out who has the ultimate authority to say yes or no and try to find out what previous experiences have made the landlord negative when it comes to considering pets. If you understand why someone feels the way they do, it gives you more power on how to possibly change their mind.

Promote yourself and your pet. Let the landlord know you will be an excellent tenant and long term because you had to work extra hard to find a place to rent that would allow you to keep your cat or dog. Offer to bring your pet to meet the owner or property manager or even invite the landlord to visit you and your pet in your current home.

Make it clear that you keep your cat inside or your dog under control and all times and that you understand the health and safety benefits of doing so. Also, tell your prospective landlord that you are willing to pay an extra security deposit in order to be allowed to have your cat or dog. Once you get an okay the most important thing to do is get it in writing!

Have a pet addendum added to your rental agreement. Rental agreements protect not only the landlord, but also the tenant and the pet! The no-pets clause should be removed from the lease, or crossed out and initialed BEFORE you sign it. Above all be honest. Don't try to sneak your pet in because it only angers the landlords and ends up in messy eviction processes or other legal action.

I know it isn't easy finding a new place to live with a pet. It will take diligence and some good persuasive powers. But didn't you make a commitment to the pet that is presently living with you and offering you unconditional love? Isn't that extra time and effort worth it? If you don't think it is, my advice is not to call me.

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