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Apartment hunting is challenging enough on its own—but when you throw a four-legged friend (or two) into the mix, it can make it all the more difficult. 

In addition to the plethora of requirements and policies that landlords have in place, pet owners have many other factors to consider. Rules around where your pet can go, proximity to pet services like veterinarians and groomers, and access to pet relief areas are just a few things you need to think about. 

Finding the right apartment can feel like a feat, but if you prepare in advance with your pet top of mind, the hunt can go much smoother.

Keep these apartment hunting dos and don’ts in mind before you sign that lease, and you and your furry friend are sure to find the perfect pet-friendly pad.

Apartment hunting dos

Do: Research and confirm pet policies & fees

Most, if not all, apartment complexes have pet policies. While some are more restrictive than others, it’s vital that you understand the guidelines that management has outlined.

Many pet policies include breed and size restrictions, limits on the number of pets you can have, and required pet deposits and fees. Some get more granular and dive into topics like quiet hours, pet etiquette, and more. 

Knowing this information upfront can save you a lot of trouble. If you don’t read the fine print, you could end up in an apartment that doesn’t cater to—or even accept—your pet. 

It’s also important to make sure you have a budget set aside for costs associated with pet fees and deposits. Deposits are typically a one-time occurrence, but pet fees are often charged yearly, so make sure you keep your pet piggy bank stocked for when it’s time to renew your lease.

Do: Create a pet resume

Having a resume for your pet may sound silly, but when you’re apartment hunting, it can come in handy. 

A solid pet resume will include a photo, breed and size information, spay/neuter status, vaccination history, and training certifications.

For example, if you create an account with PetScreening, you’ll have access to a “pet passport”, a digital profile that includes all of the relevant information about your furry friend for your leasing office to access. 

Do: Prioritize pet-friendly amenities

Not all pet-friendly apartments are created equal. Some simply allow pets while others genuinely cater to them. 

Depending on your needs, you can look for pet amenities like grooming stations, dog runs, pet-friendly common areas, on-site dog walking services, treat stations, and more.

While you may not find something with all of these pet-friendly amenities, plenty of apartments offer at least one of them.

Apartment hunting don’ts

Don’t: Hide your pet

Keeping your pet a secret from your leasing office is a big no-no. This likely violates the terms of your lease and breaks trust with your management team. On top of that, an unknown pet in an apartment complex can pose safety issues to other residents and may even subject you to financial and legal liabilities.

Ultimately, it’s extremely important to openly communicate with the complex about your pet and be honest about their breed, size, and behavior. 

Don’t: Sign a lease sight unseen 

Especially in competitive markets, prospective tenants may be tempted to sign a lease without seeing the apartment first—but this can be dangerous. Pictures from an online listing may not be accurate or show the entire space. 

Visit the space in person to ensure it meets your expectations and doesn’t pose any hazards to your pet — is the flooring going to be slippery? Are there busy roads nearby? Things like wide balcony gates, steep or unsteady stairs, and exposed electrical can all put you and your pet at risk. Getting a firsthand visual of the unit you’d move into—along with the entire complex—will help eliminate any unknowns going in.

Don’t: Ignore your pet’s needs

Outside of having pet-friendly amenities in your apartment complex, consider your building’s proximity to other important pet-related services and facilities. Is there an emergency vet nearby? Are there safe areas for dog walking and playing? Will you be able to easily access a veterinarian and groomer?

It can be helpful to look at the surrounding area on a map or even walk around yourself to see what’s nearby. 

Don’t: Casually glance over the lease

Reading the fine print might sound like a bore, but it can save you a lot of hassle down the road. In addition to outlining the pet policy, a lease typically includes information about tenant responsibilities, rent increases, lease duration and renewal, guest and subletting policies, legal protections, and much more. 

Make sure you’re clear on the terms and conditions of your tenancy and email your leasing office if there’s anything you don’t understand. 

Don’t: Assume pet-friendly means all tenants like pets

Just because an apartment complex is pet-friendly does not mean all residents will be comfortable with pets. 

Be a responsible neighbor and keep your pet at a distance when around other tenants (unless they’ve made it clear they’re okay with greeting your fur-baby). Taking the time to slowly socialize them with their new environment and doing a refresher on basic training increases the chances that they’ll be well-behaved in common areas like elevators, lobbies, and hallways. The last thing you want is one of your new neighbors complaining to management about your pet.

No matter which apartment you choose, if you put in the necessary prep beforehand, you and your four-legged friend are sure to create a safe and fun environment in your new digs.