So, you've decided it's time for you and your dog to move. You do your research, choose your preferred neighborhood and take the time to come up with several options for apartments you'd like to see. You set up viewings, find the perfect place and send in an application. But if you'll be renting with a dog, did you remember to check for breed restrictions? Some apartment communities have a list of restricted dog breeds — and may exercise restraint when it comes to aggressive dog breeds in particular.
If your dog is not accepted in your target apartment community, your application may get rejected even if you have good credit and income to cover the rent.
Before you begin the process of finding a new home — it's important to understand what breed restrictions are and how they can impact your ability to rent with a dog.
What are breed restrictions?
Breed restrictions are just what they sound like: Certain dog breeds and their mixes are not permitted to live in living in certain buildings, houses and apartments. That means that even if Fido is a mutt — he may not make the cut, depending on the various dog breeds in his mix.
Breed restrictions came about to protect people from what some consider “dangerous" or aggressive dog breeds — especially pit bulls. In other words, if aggressive dogs aren't allowed in, there's likely less chance of attacks or dog bites within the apartment community.
If you're unsure of your dog's breed, get a DNA test done! It is tough to identify a breed or breed mix visually. Your sweet pup may look like a pit bull without having any pit in them at all.
Dog breed restrictions by weight or age
Another common factor in breed restrictions is the weight and age of your dog. Because apartments are usually smaller than homes and condos, property managers may not want a large dog on-site. Often, renters are only allowed to have smaller breeds.
Age is another factor because puppies often are hyper and destructive, making landlords wary that they'll tear up the apartment.
Why do apartments have breed restrictions?
There are three reasons dogs may face restrictions living in an apartment building:
- Legislation: Some cities and counties have enacted breed-specific legislation that can ban breeds from even entering the city or county limits
- Insurance companies: Many insurance companies have blacklists that the buildings or apartments they insure must abide by
- Landlord's choice: Breed restrictions are the decision of the building's landlord or management company
A list of aggressive dog breeds
Each apartment community will probably maintain its own list of breed restrictions, but here's a look at the most common aggressive dog breeds:
- Alaskan Malamutes
- Cane Corso
- Doberman Pinschers
- German Shepherds
- Great Danes
- Pit bulls
- Siberian Huskies
- Wolf Hybrids
Mixes of these breeds may also be restricted in some communities. Check with the property manager or leasing agent if you have any questions.
Are breed restrictions legal?
Many activists, as well as some high-level animal organizations (including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), are completely against breed restrictions for several reasons.
Consider this: Has Fido ever attacked another animal or human or acted aggressively above and beyond what's normal for dogs? If not, why should he be restricted just because other dogs of the same breed have shown aggression?
Basically, many animal organizations agree that aggressive behavior in a dog is much more about nurture than nature — it all depends on how the animal grows up and how it responds to training. Plus, many believe that breed restrictions simply don't work to lessen the chances of dog attacks or bites.
Unfortunately, breed restrictions have increased the number of homeless dogs — sometimes, owners simply set the dog loose or bring it to an animal shelter rather than trying to find an apartment that accepts all breeds.
What can I do if my dog is banned from an apartment complex?
Breed-specific legislation has been slowly decreasing — great for loving dog owners like you! However, that doesn't necessarily mean that insurance companies or landlords are going to change their minds.
If Fido is not welcome off the bat, there are a couple of things you still might be able to do to persuade your landlord into giving your beloved fur baby a chance.
1. Request a pet interview
If the breed restrictions are in place by a landlord (not an insurance company), there's still hope! Ask the landlord if he or she is willing to do a doggie interview during which he or she can meet and interact with Fido.
If the building has an area for dogs to roam, ask if you can hold the interview there. That way, the landlord will be able to see Fido has no aggressive tendencies toward dogs or people. Create some talking points to guide the interview in the right direction.
Talk about your pet being part of the family — especially the role they play as a family member. Discuss your understanding and good track record of keeping your past properties clean and well-maintained, despite your dog(s). Offer additional money on your non-refundable pet deposit.
2. Create dog resumes
Next time you apply for an apartment, come prepared. Put together a pet resume for Fido with pictures, vet records and any other information you have. You can even bring along a video to show the landlord. Who will be able to resist those puppy dog eyes?
Apartment Guide has a simple tool that will let you build a printable pet resume for your animals.
3. Provide references
Your future landlord might not always want to meet your pet right off the bat, especially if they have a fear related to aggressive dog breeds. If this is the case, ask your vet, groomer, pet sitter/boarding facility or friends and family to write letters of reference for your furry friend.
4. Gather vet records
Gather up and provide proof of your pet's medical records (i.e. vaccinations, Rabies shots, tag registration, etc.)
5. Create a video
Make a video of your pet showing it as a part of your family. If possible, try to include shots of interactions with children, other pets and elderly people. This might build trust between your potential landlord and your pet.
6. Offer to pay pet rent
We've all heard the expression that “money talks." You might be able to offer your landlord a little more security with the promise of extra monthly rent for Fido.
7. Secure renters insurance
Many landlords will want you to have your own kind of Renters' Insurance regardless of your pets, but in this case, try taking it a step further. Offer to secure a policy that covers your pets and has a liability policy that covers them of $300,000 — listing the landlord as an additional insured member.
Additional animal restrictions
Thinking about becoming the next Tiger King? Great! Just check with your landlord or state first.
Often, pets other than the dogs face restrictions, too. Any animal from hedgehogs and ferrets to zebras or certain snakes may not find itself welcome.
Take breed restrictions seriously
It might be tempting to lie on your application about your pets, but lying is the worst thing you can do. If a landlord discovers you've been dishonest about your pet(s), they can potentially evict you — and living on the street is not an option.