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Pet Policies for a Rental: Here’s What You Need to Know

By the Mercury Team

Whether you have a feline friend or a canine companion, owning pets can pose a few challenges when renting an apartment, condo, or house. Most landlords and property managers have pet policies in place, and it’s important to follow these rules to ensure a smooth, stress-free living experience for you and your furry pal. Let’s dive deeper into pet policies and what you can expect when renting a property as a pet owner.

Common Elements of a Pet Policy

Whenever you’re renting with pets, some common elements that you’ll often see in a pet policy include pet deposits, breed and size restrictions, and the number of pets allowed.

Pet Deposits

Pet deposits are standard among rental agreements, as they’re designed to cover possible damages caused by pets during your tenancy. They can either be refundable or non-refundable.

  • Refundable deposits: You can get the money back at the end of your lease if your pet doesn't cause any damage.
  • Non-refundable deposits: Your landlord doesn’t return your money, regardless of whether your pet causes damage or not.

Before signing a lease, understand the terms related to pet deposits and fees, and always clarify with your landlord whether the pet deposit is refundable or non-refundable.

Pet Rent

Pet rent is a monthly, recurring payment added to your leasing agreement to allow your pet to live on the property. It’s important to note that pet rent differs from a pet deposit, which is an upfront, one-time payment. Your pay can vary depending on your location, local market conditions, and your pet’s size and breed. Pet rent can significantly increase your monthly expenses, so make sure to factor in this recurring payment, pet deposit, and any other associated fees. This will give you a more accurate picture of the total cost of renting your apartment.

Size and Breed Restrictions

Many rental properties have pet size and breed restrictions, often based on insurance requirements or local ordinances. For example, some properties may not allow dogs over a certain weight, or prohibit certain breeds that they deem to be “aggressive.”

If your pet falls into a restricted category, it's worth talking with the landlord. Providing proof of your pet's good behavior, such as obedience school certificates or references from previous landlords, can sometimes help sway their decision.

Number of Pets Allowed

Rental properties often limit the number of pets allowed to prevent excessive wear and tear on the property. If you have multiple pets, discuss the situation with your landlord. Some may be willing to negotiate terms, especially if your pets are small or well-behaved. Always be upfront about the number of pets you have to avoid potential issues in the future.

Liability Insurance and Pet Interviews

Some landlords or property managers may require pet liability insurance, which covers damages or injuries caused by your pet to other tenants or the property itself. Renters insurance usually has personal liability coverage to help protect you if your pet causes bodily injury or property damage. Talk with a local agent to learn more about what renters insurance does and does not cover.

Additionally, some landlords or property managers may conduct a pet interview to assess your pet’s behavior and temperament. This is to ensure that they will be a good fit for the property and won’t cause problems for other tenants. When preparing for a pet interview, practice some basic commands and reward good behavior. Also, be honest about your pet’s behavior and any potential issues, as this can lead to a more positive relationship with your landlord or property manager.

Documentation and Pet Records

When applying for a rental property, landlords or property managers often require certain documentation for your pet, including vaccination records and proof of spaying or neutering. It’s a good idea to keep a pet portfolio ready for rental applications, which can include your pet’s medical records, license information, and any other relevant documents. Having this information at hand can streamline the application process and show potential landlords that you’re a responsible pet owner.

Understanding Lease Agreements

Lease agreements are your go-to source for learning everything you need to know about your rental property's policies, including pet policies. Before signing the dotted line, thoroughly review any pet-related clauses, including restrictions and required fees or deposits. Understanding these terms can help prevent any misunderstandings or disputes down the road.

If anything is unclear in the agreement, don't hesitate to get clarification from your landlord or property manager. It's better to ask questions upfront than to make assumptions that could lead to issues. There also may be room for negotiation, so if you find specific pet-related terms unfavorable, discuss these conditions with the landlord or property owner.

Consequences of Violating Pet Policies

Violating the pet policies outlined in your lease agreement can have consequences, ranging from financial penalties like additional fees or losing your pet deposit to more severe outcomes like eviction. In some cases, you may even be required to rehome your pet.

If you violate your lease’s pet policies, avoid legal implications and address the issue promptly. This may be by paying an outstanding pet fee or managing a property damage complaint. If you believe you've been mistreated or a dispute arises over the pet policies, seek legal help, as they can guide you on the next steps. Keep thorough records of all interactions and transactions related to your pet and the rental property, as these can be crucial in resolving disputes.

Renting Tips for Pet Owners

Navigating the rental process as a pet owner can present a few challenges and obstacles. But with the right approach, you and your furry companion can enjoy your new home with no issues. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Research: Research properties online and exclude all the pet-free apartments to save time and energy. Also, see if your prospective properties include pet-friendly amenities like dog parks or pet-washing stations.
  • Come prepared with questions: When touring the property, be sure to bring questions to ask when renting, including queries about the pet policies, amenities, rent, etc.
  • Communicate openly with your landlord or property manager: Being transparent about your pet’s behavior, size, and breed can establish a positive relationship with your landlord or property manager and avoid potential disputes.
  • Develop a resume for your pet: To help demonstrate your responsibility as a pet owner, create a pet resume with essential information, such as vaccination records, training certifications, and references from previous landlords or neighbors.
  • Get everything in writing: If your landlord or property manager makes an exception for your pet, update that condition in your lease before signing. Doing this helps protect you if any issues arise in the future.


As a pet owner and renter, the key to a successful living situation is to be a responsible, honest tenant. By being transparent and following your landlord or property manager’s pet policies, you and your furry friend can enjoy your tenancy to the fullest. It’s also important to get renters insurance, as many rental properties require it to live there. Talk with a local agent from Mercury. They can discuss the benefits of renters insurance with you and help you get best-in-class coverage at an affordable rate.

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Mercury Team

The Mercury Marketing Team is made up of professionals in the fields of Content Creation, Public Relations and Social Media. The team works together to deliver professionally written and researched content to provide information for consumers.

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