So you're moving, and you have a four-legged friend in tow and aren't sure whether or not he or she is allowed to live with you in your new apartment. Hopefully, you've done some research and chose an apartment that is pet friendly prior to signing your lease. If you are just beginning your research, take a look at the following guide for a glimpse at some common apartment regulations regarding pets.
No Pets Allowed
Obviously, if you have a pet, you would want to avoid renting an apartment building that is not pet friendly unless you plan on making other arrangements for your animal for the duration of your lease. It is not a good idea to sneak pets into buildings with no-pet policies, as this could lead to disciplinary measures and even eviction.
If you are a pet owner, you should ask if the building is pet friendly prior to even looking at any available units if you plan on keeping your animals with you. There are exceptions, of course, for individuals who need animal assistance for disabilities (a seeing-eye dog, for example).
No Pets Over 20 Pounds
Some apartment complexes allow you to have animals, but with weight limitations. Dogs over 20 pounds, for instance, generally require a large amount of open space to run and if your apartment complex cannot accommodate bigger breeds, weight restrictions will be enforced. This is also because apartment units can be small, and the bigger the animal, the more likely it is that the pet may cause damage.
In addition to a weight limit, some landlords may enforce breed restrictions on dogs (or other animals, too) that may or may not be deemed “dangerous.” This type of restriction isn't as common, however, due to the ambiguity on the issue – but be sure to check with your landlord and get a list of breeds in question if such a restriction exists. Similarly, you may be limited to caged animals only.
Number of Pet Limitations
Some landlords or apartment associations will enforce a maximum amount of pets allowed in a unit to keep tenants from multiple animals in a small space. Often times, a tenant is allowed one or two pets, and can be subject to disciplinary action if he or she is caught housing more than this.
Leash Rules, Caring for Pets and Documentation
Most of the time, when you sign a lease with a pet friendly establishment, you will also need to fill out a Pet Agreement form, which goes into specific detail about the rules and regulations for your pet. You will need to describe your pet in detail on this form and attach a recent picture for the landlord's records. You will also need to give your landlord copies of your pet's vaccination records, ensuring that they are up to date. Your pets will need to be licensed, collared with ID tags, and micro chipped in some cases, too.
If you have a dog that needs to be walked, many apartment buildings or landlords will request that your dog always be on a leash. In addition, you should never leave your pet tied up outdoors for long periods of time unsupervised. Your landlord will most likely have rules about cleaning up after your dog once it is walked, so as to not inconvenience any other tenants. You will be responsible for the behavior of your pet, and your landlord has the right to revoke privileges as he or she sees fit. Your pet must not disturb other tenants in any way.
In regards to caged pets, your landlord will probably request that these animals stay in their designated containment unless supervised. Do not leave your rabbit or bird out of its cage while you are not home, for example.
A majority of apartment buildings will require a pet deposit, similar to the security deposit you pay upon moving in. This may be a one-time fee, or your landlord may allow you to break up the payments. Many times, you will pay a flat amount, with only half of that amount refundable at the end of your lease. Be sure to ask your landlord if you have any questions regarding the deposit. In some cases, you may pay a deposit per pet, or you may pay a higher amount based on the size or breed of the animal.
The pet deposit is generally put in place for any minor damage the unit may receive due to your pet living there. The landlord will probably steam clean the carpets, or may need to replace them once you move out. Any other extensive damage caused by your pet may result in extra charges or money taken out of your security deposit.
Many apartment complexes limit pet ownership to domestic animals like dogs and cats, but if they don't, you'll need to get the specifics. The exotic pet spectrum can be rather broad, so you will need to ask your landlord if you will be allowed to move in with an exotic animal, and more importantly, what type. These animals can be anything from a ferret or a chinchilla to a snake or a specific species of fish.
You also want to keep in mind that each state may or may not have specific rules and regulations regarding exotic animals. You may need to obtain a permit, or there may be animals that are off-limits in terms of private ownership depending on the state. For example, California does now allow private ownership of wild animals, including but not limited to bats, zebras, coral snakes and snapping turtles.