5 tips for worry-free renting with pets

Tenants can mix pet ownership and home rental successfully

Landlords and leases need not spell losses for pet lovers interested in renting with pets. Sure, some rental housing managers forbid the presence of animals. Still, many apartments and leased homes are open to well-managed pets.

What can pet owners do to accommodate both their animal friends and their building management personnel? Here are five strategies for successful rental arrangements for animal lovers.

1. Find out if pets are allowed before moving into rented housing.

This is the most important step. Few animal owners can recount success with secret pets in no-pet eviction from the property.

Smarter folks ask upfront if renting with pets is allowed.

Frequently, landlords require pet deposits before renters move into apartments or rental homes. These funds may be returned to renters upon departure, if their animals have not damaged property. Additional paperwork often comes into play for pet owners as well.

The most savvy pet owner will photograph or videotape every part of the premises to document the property's before-and-after condition and eliminate and possible accusations or misunderstandings of pet damage in the future.

2. Pick a home-friendly pet, if possible.

Well-mannered cats or dogs may make suitable pets for renters. Fish, birds, and small rodents tend to do well too, particularly if they are contained. Alligators, giant geckos, and pot-bellied pegs may raise building supervisors' eyebrows and tempers.

3. Pet-proof the entire rental unit.

To protect pets and the premises, a responsible pet lover will look for ways to minimize potential hazards and dangers throughout the dwelling.

Depending upon the species of pet, an owner might tie up drapery or blind cords and electrical wiring. The animal lover may remove fragile items on low shelves, replace rugs with washable mats, and install latches on cupboards.

In a furnished unit, an individual renting with pets may put rugged slipcovers over upholstered items.

Child safety gates are useful, allowing pet owners to block pets from entire areas of rental housing.

4. Train animals properly before renting with pets.

A polite pet tends to be warmly welcomed, while a rowdy and rambunctious one may bother even the most devoted animal lovers. Before moving a pet into rented housing, the owner will want to teach the animal how to behave at home and about. Biting, nipping, chewing, growling, jumping up, and excessive barking are no-no's in shared spaces.

Potty training is a must as well. Cats must be litter-trained, and dogs should be housebroken. Some tenants choose to train canines to potty indoors as well.

5. Keep the pet under control on and around the rental property.

Renters' pets need to be kept under wraps, rather than running free on the grounds, unless a fenced area is provided specifically for pet use. Leashed dogs and harnessed or held cats are less likely to threaten or harm anyone than their untethered counterparts.

New pets need to be introduced cautiously to animals already living on the premises. Elevator meetings require extra caution.

Certainly, tenant pet owners will want to pick up after their own pets, leaving neither toys nor droppings lying around.

Pets should never be left behind for long stretches, as when owners are away or at work. Such animals are most likely to damage property or disturb neighbors.

Added precautions for pet owners in rental housing apply. Pets should be up-to-date on all immunizations, with owners holding written documentation. Animals need to have identification tags for safety purposes.

Renting with pets is possible and practical, if facilities allow animals. By taking a few simple steps, caring, smart pet lovers can make the experience more positive for all.

More from this contributor:

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5 tips for choosing the perfect pet for your family

Seven Key Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Veterinarian for Your Pets