At the Austin apartment complex that I just moved into, rarely a day goes by that I don’t spot a neighbor walking Spot (or Buster or Bella). Does everyone there own a dog except me? And what about all the cats I’m not seeing?
As it turns out, dogs and cats and other pets are almost as commonplace as apartment residents themselves. A new survey by our friends at Apartments.com shows three-fourths of apartment renters own pets. So, what are the most popular apartment pets? The survey, which let people make more than one selection, indicates they are:
- Cat: 45 percent.
- Small dog: 38 percent.
- Midsize dog: 21 percent.
- Large dog: 19 percent.
- Fish: 6 percent.
For the millions of apartment renters who own a Golden Retriever, Chihuahua, Siamese or Ragdoll, what do you do when you’re searching for or moving to a new apartment? Courtesy of Apartments.com, the Humane Society of the United States and the ASPCA, here are 10 tips that can help keep you out of the tenant doghouse.
1. Learn the rules. Nearly three-fourths of renters surveyed by Apartments.com said they live someplace that restricts the types of pets they’re allowed to have. In San Francisco, where I recently lived for a year, a lot of apartments prohibit dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly read the landlord’s pet policy before signing on the dotted line.
2. Be honest. If you’ve got a pet, don’t break the rules by sneaking your dog or cat in. If you do skirt the rules, you could be booted from your apartment or even sued.
3. Be ready to pay the price. According to the Apartments.com survey, 63 percent of apartment dwellers who own pets paid a pet deposit. Most spend more than $150 a year on pet-related deposits and fees.
4. Give it time. If possible, start combing through rental ads and contacting rental agencies at least six weeks before you plan to move. In the Apartments.com survey, more than 60 percent of renters said they faced problems finding pet-friendly apartments. Visit the Humane Society’s website for help with this task.
5. Ask around. If you know any real estate agents, rental agents or resident managers who own pets themselves or who share your love of animals, ask them for apartment leads.
6. Check it out. Before you pick a new apartment, make sure your pet will like it just as much as you do. For instance, walk around the neighborhood to figure out whether the area seems safe for your pet.
7. Be your own cheerleader. Tell your prospective apartment landlord or manager that you realize living with a pet is a privilege, not a right. Also, remind the landlord or manager that responsible pet owners make great residents because they’re more likely to stay put after hunting so hard for a place to live.
8. Watch the stairs. Older dogs, puppies and dogs with house-training issues need to go outside often, which might be hard in an apartment building with lots of stairs.
9. Ease the transition. Help nervous kitties and skittish dogs make the move smooth by keeping your pets in a familiar room that you plan to pack up last. On moving day, keep your pets in a quiet room with the door shut or at a friend’s or relative’s house. (We’re all about self-storage here, so I’d be falling down on the job if I didn’t suggest that you could rent a self-storage unit to make more room for your furry friend.)
10. Make them feel at home. A strange space can be overwhelming to your dog or cat. Make your pets feel welcome by filling one room with favorite toys, treats, water bowls and food bowls. Once they’ve successfully graduated from that phase, slowly introduce them to other rooms in your new pad.