Guide to finding a pet friendly apartment

Apartment hunting is tough - and can be even tougher if you are embarking on your search with a cat or dog as a roommate. While it is not legal in many parts of Canada for landlords to forbid pets, the fact is, landlords can choose to rent to someone else who is less forthcoming about being a pet owner.

Lying about pet ownership is a bad idea, and will start you off on the wrong foot when seeking a new home. What can you do to maximize your chances of landing a great apartment along with your pets?

Don’t leave it until the last minute. Finding an apartment that is appropriate for both you and your pet will be much easier if you have time on your side. In addition to finding an apartment that accepts your pet, make sure you find somewhere with the appropriate amenities – for instance, a park within walking distance if you own a dog. We recommend giving yourself minimum 2 months to find an apartment with a pet when possible.

Be honest. Mentioning your pet doesn’t have to be the first thing out of your mouth (or in your Kijiji reply), but if you view an apartment, tell the landlord or property manager about your pet. Be sure to mention their good points (quiet, house trained, etc.).

Understand their reservations. Did they have a terrible prior tenant that trashed the place and had dogs? Are they concerned about people who don’t stop and scoop? Is noise the main sticking point? Talk to the owner about what it is that makes them hesitate. Don’t dismiss their concerns – from the perspective of a landlord, these are all legitimate issues that can be a huge pain for them to deal with. Let them know details about your pets and lifestyle that will help to alleviate their concerns. Do you work from home? Do you have a dog walker? Is your cat content to stick with their scratching post? All of these points can help dispel concerns and reassure them that you take getting along with management and neighbours, as well as being a responsible pet owner, seriously.

Talk up yourself, and your pet. If you can provide proof that you are a responsible pet owner, they may be willing to make an exception for you. Documents that prove your pet has been fixed (and thus calmer and less likely to spray or otherwise annoy neighbours), that you take your pets to the vet regularly (your vet likely has a form letter on file for this purpose), proof that you have taken your dog to a training class, reference letters from your current landlord that you are a responsible tenant and pet owner, and any other documents you might have can help paint a picture of you and your pet being a contributing community member. Make it clear that you will be responsible for your pet at all times – list behavhiours that you as a pet owner find unacceptable from other pet owners, and let them know you understand that not everyone wants to deal with another person’s animals. If possible, introduce them to your pet. Your prospective landlord might have a no dogs policy because they have a life long fear of German shepherds or dobermans. If you have a cuddly, unassuming Pomeranian, their reluctance might wane. Invite them to your current home to meet your pet and showcase how clean you keep your current unit. Take your dog for a professional groom and vacuum up any stray pet hair before hand. A well cared for and well behaved pet in a well cared for home will speak volumes.

Be prepared to get creative. If you are having trouble finding options using the pet friendly filter on Kijiji, consider asking your local humane society if they have a list of apartment buildings which are pet friendly, or reaching out to local real estate agents or property managers for suggestions on where to find an apartment in your budget.

While finding rentals that allow pets can be tough, the hard work pays off in the form of a happy home for ALL family members. Happy hunting!

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