It’s a common dilemma for pet owners. You find the perfect property, but the landlord doesn’t allow pets. Do you keep looking for a new place to rent, or can you negotiate with the landlord?
If you choose to negotiate with the landlord, how do you convince them to change their mind? Here are eight pointers on persuading your landlord to let you live with your beloved pets.
Prove Your Worth
Landlords value tenants who pay their bills on time, don’t damage property, and are not a nuisance to neighbors. So, use your reputation as a responsible tenant as leverage. Prove to the landlord that you’re the kind of tenant who pays their rent on time. If you have no prior relationship with the landlord, ask your previous landlord to provide a written testimonial. You can also provide the new landlord with your details to run a background check.
In negotiation class, you discover that transparency builds trust and aligns common interests. As a tenant, be open to the landlord checking your credit rating. Prove that apart from rent, you always pay your amenities and other bills in full and on time. Let your new landlord know that your past landlord can vouch for you always keeping the property clean and noise levels at a minimum.
Put Together Your Pet Resume
Your pet is under scrutiny just as much as you are. While there are very few options for a prospective landlord to do a background check on your pet, you can make negotiations easy by putting together a pet resume.
Start with the obvious, like listing the pet’s breed and weight. Go further and include pictures of the pet in nonthreatening situations. For example, photos of dogs or cats playing with kids show that your pet is friendly and won’t bite or scratch the neighbors.
Include vet references and documents showing your pet is fully vaccinated. Show that the pet is spayed or neutered. If it’s a legal requirement in your area, provide copies of your pet’s license.
Also, provide details of any special training your pet may have. These may include obedience classes or service training.
Offer Extra Security
You can sweeten the deal for your potential landlord by offering an extra security deposit or supplemental rent. The deposit may be anywhere from an extra one to a few months of rent. Supplemental rent could be $25 to $200 extra, depending on the location and rent pricing in the area. Research the averages for your area and negotiate a price that’s right for the neighborhood.
The supplemental rent could cover the landlord in case they have to spend more on cleaning common areas such as corridors and elevators. In some locations, the landlord may have to pay extra insurance to allow pets to live on the property. You may also add pet insurance as part of your renter’s insurance to provide against any pet damage.
Introduce Your Pet in Person
Physical contact with an adorable pet could melt even the hardest of hearts, or at least make it easier to negotiate your case. Arrange to meet your landlord in a public pet-friendly place such as a park or restaurant. Bring along your pet on a leash or in a carrier.
The landlord may waive the no-pets rule if they connect with the pet and see that it’s harmless. Bringing along your pet also shows the landlord that you are serious about the property and about moving with your pet into your home.
Do you have a touching story that shows why your pet is so special? People react to stories, and animals doing kind deeds can make acceptance easier.
For instance, your pet may have been a neighborhood favorite after stopping a break-in and even appeared on TV. Maybe your dog was born on the same day as your daughter, and they’re now inseparable and even attend obedience classes together. Stories can push your landlord towards acceptance, and showing that all members of the family are responsible for your pet can go a long way to convincing a skeptic.
Avoid telling the story like you’re begging. Instead, express the love your household and neighborhood have for the pet. Ease your landlord’s fears of a nuisance pet that may cause havoc for neighbors.
Quote the Law and Building Policies
Does the proprietary lease categorically disallow your kind of pet? If the building policies are silent about your kind of pet, then politely point out that the landlord has the power to make a positive gesture.
For instance, many buildings will mention dogs but remain silent on cats. Yet during negotiations, the landlord might tell you they don’t allow all kinds of pets. If the other tactics mentioned above don’t persuade your landlord to allow your cat, it may be time to resort to the building policies.
Take Advantage of the Three-Month Law
In New York, if you get a pet and the building board fails to begin a court proceeding against you within three months, then you’re entitled to keep the pet. This is the three-month law, or the “open and notorious” law.
For this law to apply, the board or building supervisors should have seen the pet and known of its residential status for the three months. This means you must be open about living with a pet. Sneaking the pet in and out of the building won’t work. Keep detailed notes on when and where the building board or employees saw the pet and who else saw these encounters. Your landlord will likely not want to fight you if you have records.
The Law Can Be on Your Side
The law protects tenants against all classes of discrimination. If you have physical, emotional, or psychiatric disabilities, the law allows you to keep an assistive animal. If you have an emotional support animal (ESA), then the law requires the landlord to make reasonable accommodations for you and your pet. The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 protect assistive pets even where the landlord prohibits pets. You may have to provide documentation showing that your animal is an assistive pet. Most psychologists, psychiatrists, licensed therapists, and other health professionals can provide an Emotional Support Animal letter stating that you need its services.