Your Guide to Finding the Perfect Pet-Friendly Apartment

Pets are family and they need a comfortable home, too.

Pets are wonderful companions that can complete any home. They're our best friends we can't imagine our lives without. If you have pets and are looking for a new place, we know that parting with them isn't an option!

Pet-friendly apartments abound and this renter's guide will empower you to make the best choice for you and your furry (or scaly) friend.

In this guide:

The differences between pet deposits, pet fees and pet rent

The first thing to understand is that a pet-friendly apartment comes with a price – your regular rent alone is not enough to cover costs related to having pets on the property. Due to the challenges that come with renting to pet owners that don't apply to other tenants, a landlord or property manager normally has a pet policy that prospective tenants must agree to, outlining requirements unique to pet owners, including extra costs, many of which are non-refundable.

Landlords may collect pet deposits, pet fees and pet rent (although this does not apply to a service animal or emotional support animal, which we'll cover later). We'll break down pet deposits, pet fees and pet rent into further detail, so you know the differences between them and the price ranges to expect.

Pet deposit

A pet deposit is a one-time payment, separate from general security deposits, designed to help cover pet damages to the apartment. This includes soiled or torn carpet, scratches and chew marks. Similar to a security deposit, a pet deposit is usually partially, if not fully, refundable.

Pet deposits are usually a percentage of the rent cost, with the average pet deposit being between 40-85 percent of a month's rent payment. However, there's no standard price when it comes to pet deposits and fees, so make sure to ask for details when looking at a potential rental.

Pet deposit vs security deposit

The reasons for a separate pet deposit, not just larger security deposits, is that landlords have discretion with how to use your pet deposit, with some using it as a cleaning fee in addition to pet-related repairs. To avoid losing all or some of your pet deposit, make sure your pet is well-behaved, potty-trained and has plenty of toys or scratching posts. Depending on rental laws in your area, exemptions for "normal wear and tear" may not apply to your pet.

Pet fee

A pet fee is usually a non-refundable fee, usually just a one-time charge. In some cases, it's a recurring monthly fee. Sometimes, non-refundable pet fees can be as expensive as a security deposit. Like pet deposits, landlords have the ability to make the rules.

However, the typical pet fee may fall somewhere between $200 and $500, with the amount being less if it's a monthly fee rather than one-time. Similar to a pet deposit, the landlord has significant discretion over how to charge pet fees and use them to cover pet related damages.

Pet rent

Pet rent is also non-refundable, but it's different than a pet fee. Your landlord cant treat your pet like another tenant, charging a monthly pet rent in addition to your regular rent cost. How much you pay for pet rent varies, but the additional rent is usually a flat charge somewhere between $50 and $100 per month.

Renters insurance

There are options for types of renters insurance to cover costs of pet-related damages and liabilities (such as your pet biting someone). This isn't necessarily required for having a pet (thought many landlords require it for all tenants), but it can be useful and help if you want to try to negotiate a better deal on the usual pet costs.

Other costs

There may be other costs that come up, whether charged by your landlord or required by local and state law. Some of the latter are pet registrations, while your landlord may have other costs, such as a cleaning fee when you move out. Make sure to thoroughly read through any pet policies for hidden costs.

Taking these pet-related expenses together, the pet deposits and fees, along with the monthly pet rent, can add up to a lot of money.

Tenant pet agreements

Budgeting for your pet deposit, pet fees and pet rent is essential. Otherwise, these unexpected costs may pile up. You can always inquire about these charges ahead of time when considering various apartments. They're also spelled out in detail in the tenant pet agreement or pet-related clauses in your lease agreement.

Read the agreements

The tenant pet agreement serves as a contract for your pet and includes the terms you and the landlord agree on. Besides pet fees, it will usually include the size, type and number of pets you can have and the rules and regulations you must abide by. Overall, tenant pet agreements can vary widely, so pay close attention to the pet policy you're signing up for.

Research local laws

Also, keep in mind that state and local laws can affect a lot of this. For example, state laws ban pet deposits in certain states but not in others. You should research local and state laws and regulations ahead of time to make it easier to have these conversations with the many landlords and property managers you'll deal with in your apartment search.

Knowing local laws in your area will benefit you as you interact with your landlord. They may even help you negotiate better lease terms.

dog wash

Amenities at pet-friendly apartments

When searching for an apartment, you want to make sure your pet just as comfortable in your new location as you are! There's a big difference between a rental property allowing pets and truly being friendly to pets. Pet amenities vary greatly from place to place, but they make having pets all the merrier. Here are several must-have pet amenities:

Pet parks

Many pet-friendly apartments have on-site pet parks or are next to one. Renting with pets is easy when you don't have to go very far to let them be out and about. Pets often don't like being cooped up any more than humans do, and dogs, in particular, are quite sociable.

Access to a pet park is a must-have since they need exercise just like we do! This area allows your pets to indulge their senses and run off energy, as well as giving you an excuse to go outside and get some exercise with your pet.

Pet walking

A pet-friendly apartment may have pet-walking services so that your precious pet can get the exercise they need if you're too busy or don't feel up to going out. This must-have amenity allows your pet to stretch their legs, use the bathroom and get a change of scenery. The best apartment pets are the ones who get the exercise they need and come back to you refreshed and happy.

Pet sitting

Pet sitting is a wonderful amenity for unexpected occasions, like personal emergencies or late-night crunch sessions at work. Though it's not an amenity that tenants request daily, it's a must-have to ensure your pet isn't alone at crucial times.

Pet amenities like pet parks, pet walking and pet sitting provide valuable services for tenants. These three basic amenities assist you in taking care of your pet's daily needs when you need them.

Pet washes

Pet washes are the perfect way to clean your pet without flooding your apartment's bathroom floor. While not all pet-friendly apartments have them, they're great amenities to consider. Pet washes consist of a room where you can bathe your pet in peace and not worry about the mess. A tub or basin is present and a more luxurious pet-friendly apartment may also offer pet shampoo and grooming tools for a complete pet washing experience.

Pet amenities help make the pet deposit, pet fees and pet rent worth it. They also have other benefits, like giving you the opportunity to interact with other pet owners and feel like a real part of a community of other pet lovers.

Best dog breeds for apartments

Dogs are great companions that accompany us on life's journey. However, some dog breeds make better apartment pets than others:

  • Boston Terriers
  • Bichon Frises
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
  • Pugs
  • Shih Tzus

These breeds tend to have a somewhat jolly disposition and don't mind lounging around during the day, though like any other pet, they still need daily exercise.


Breed restrictions

Breed restrictions refer to certain pets that landlords don't allow. Generally, apartment communities may not allow pets that are stereotypically aggressive — regardless of the temperament of your pet. Breed restrictions limit the landlord's liability in case there's an injury or attack, or they're the result of the landlord's insurance policy.

Other times, state and local law may make the decision for landlords. For example, cities and counties might ban specific breeds. Because many factors come into play, it's best to understand your state, city and county laws beforehand.

Common breed restrictions

Here's a list of breeds that are frequently restricted, but keep in mind that local and state laws vary greatly.

  • Bulldogs
  • Pit bulls
  • German Shepherds
  • Rottweilers
  • Mastiffs
  • Boxers
  • Great Danes
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • Akitas
  • Huskies

While breed restrictions typically target larger or more aggressive breeds, the landlord can also have a level of discretion concerning which breeds they do and don't allow.

Service animals, emotional support animals and housing rights

Breed restrictions don't apply to service animals or emotional support animals and a landlord can't deny housing on this basis under the Americans with Disabilities Act and fair housing law.

These animals are different from pets and exempt from a landlord's usual pet policies. Here, we'll cover the differences between a service animal and an emotional support animal before describing a tenant's legal rights.

Service Animal

A service animal is thoroughly trained to assist individuals with disabilities, for example, helping a vision-impaired person to find their way. They usually wear something to identify them, though it's not required. Their training is specific to the service they're providing their owners.

Emotional Support Animal

An emotional support animal, or ESA, provides a therapeutic function for their owners. They're beneficial to those with mental and emotional disorders like anxiety and depression. Their calming presence helps the person to function more normally. Unlike a service animal, an emotional support animal doesn't receive specific training. An animal is an ESA when an individual receives a letter from their mental health provider stating that the animal is beneficial for the person and helps alleviate symptoms of their disorder.

Pets vs. service/emotional support animals

It's important to remember that a service or emotional support animal is not the same as a pet. Therefore, their housing rights are entirely different. The Fair Housing Act prohibits landlords from charging tenants pet deposits, pet fees or pet rent for their service animals. Service animals are also not subject to breed restrictions.

Service animal rights

Fair housing law requires that apartments that don't accept pets can't turn away service animals because they're not pets, and that turning them away is discriminatory. There are only minimal instances where a landlord can do this and they must prove their claim. They also can't require a separate pet deposit or the usual pet rent/pet fees. However, if your service animal damages the apartment, you'll still need to pay for those damages and repair costs will usually come out of your security deposit.

Emotional support animal rights

Exceptions also apply to an emotional support animal. The Americans with Disabilities Act exempts your ESA from breed restrictions. As long as the landlord can't prove that your animal is a public threat, causes excessive damage or concern to the rental property, enormous financial burden or alters the rental unit, they must not refuse you housing rights. Concerning housing rights, an emotional support animal is more like a service animal. This is because the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development labels both as “assistance animals."

Have your service animal or emotional support animal documentation ready and on hand. This preemptive and preparatory action shows landlords you know your rights. Any attempt on behalf of the landlord to charge pet deposits, pet fees and pet rent is illegal.

Tree frogs

Renting with uncommon pets

While most renters stick to dogs and cats, they are far from the only pet options, with some apartments making room for other pets.


Rodents include rats, mice, gerbils, guinea pigs and hamsters. These furry little creatures are brilliant, friendly and make fine companions. However, some landlords may not like the idea of rodents in their rental units. When looking for a pet-friendly apartment, be sure to ask about what kinds of uncommon or exotic pets the landlord allows, if any.

Cage cleaning and maintenance

It's best to confine rodents to a specific area since they're messy. As long as your furry friend isn't scurrying across the apartment unattended, any mess or pet damages are minimal. However, since rodents like to fling their shavings (among other things) out of their cage, you can help contain any mess by placing spread-out newspaper under their cage. This way, you can gather it up and toss it, minimizing mess and stains.

Keeping their cage clean will also help odors from building up. In fact, many enclosures are becoming increasingly easier to clean. One helpful tip is to opt for an open-air, wired cage with a removable bottom. Plastic tubes are fun, but they quickly collect foul odors and are challenging to take apart, clean and put back together again. Explaining what steps you will take to ensure the rental unit stays nice and neat may help convince your landlord to let your small companion stay.


Pet reptiles include snakes, lizards, turtles and more. Landlords may not view reptiles as the best apartment pets and need some persuasion. This is due to their own fears or a less than favorable perception of these animals. However, you may try talking to your landlord, introducing your pets, showing a picture of what its housing will look like, how you take care of it and so forth.

Moving with reptiles can also require extra consideration, like ensuring they have the ventilation they need and that the temperature and lighting are as optimal as possible. Reptiles can become agitated when they're out of their comfort zone.

Health risks

Landlords may also be more open to your reptilian pet if you diligently keep their habitat clean and disinfected. This eliminates odors and helps keep your reptile healthy since reptiles are prone to skin and bacterial infections. Therefore, a clean environment promotes their well-being.

Reptile droppings may contain bacteria like Salmonella, making regular disinfecting a must. Once your landlord realizes that you understand how to properly care for your reptile and keep everything nice and clean, they might be more open to the idea of having one in their rental unit.


Amphibians like frogs, toads, salamanders and newts can make fascinating pets. The great news is that they don't take up much space and are happy in a smaller-sized habitat. Some amphibians may not even require lighting or basking areas.

Health risks

Amphibians, like reptiles, are linked to Salmonella outbreaks. Salmonella is found in their digestive tracts and can cause unfortunate sickness in humans. Humans can contract it from either handling the pet or coming into contact with its environment

Some landlords are hesitant to allow reptiles and amphibians in their rental units because of this but demonstrating that you know how to clean and disinfect their habitats may go a long way. It's also important to never keep their habitats near the kitchen and food items.

Documenting uncommon pets

It's equally essential that you obtain it in writing if your landlord makes a concession concerning uncommon or exotic pets. If it's not usually allowed, but they permit it, it's safer to include this in the lease or tenant pet agreement than have a verbal understanding alone. This can help prevent problems later on.

Also, remember that renting with unusual pets is more than making sure they're allowed in your pet-friendly apartment. It's also a matter of ensuring they're allowed in your state. For example, hedgehogs and ferrets are legal in many areas of the United States but illegal in California. Different regions have varying rules and regulations and it's essential to make sure your pet is legal before attempting to convince your landlord to let it into your new pet-friendly apartment.

Pet registration and pet licensing

Pet registration and licensing are an essential part of being a responsible pet owner. After you move to your new pet-friendly apartment, you'll need to update your pet information. If you're in the same city, you'll need to update your address. If you've moved to another city or state, you'll need to relicense your pet.

Registration and licensing requirements vary according to region. This includes when you must license a pet and the fine amount for having an unlicensed animal. This information is typically accessible on the city or county website and the process is affordable and completed online.

Pet registration and licensing work two ways. First, it ensures that your pet has had its vaccinations and is not a threat to others or public health. Second, it will help you locate your pet more quickly in the event it runs away or something happens that separates you. Unlicensed dogs that end up in shelters are sometimes the first to be euthanized. Thus, it's to everyone's advantage to register and license pets and most places require it.

Be a good neighbor in a pet-friendly community

Moving to your pet-friendly apartment is an exciting venture. However, it may take your precious pet a little time to adjust. The temperament and activity level of each pet is different, so here are a few tips on being a good neighbor in a pet-friendly community:

Give your pet plenty of exercise

Pets cooped up all day in the apartment may have excess energy at night. This energy translates into whining and barking that keeps your new neighbors up or causes them to make a complaint. Making sure your pet receives plenty of exercise during the day will ensure they're ready for a good night's sleep.

Do not let your pet roam free

Most pet-friendly communities ask that you keep control of your beloved pet instead of letting them explore. Though it's tempting to let your pet roam, it's best to keep them on a leash for their protection and the safety of other tenants. It also helps deter pets from getting in fights or aggressive competitions with one another.

Clean up after your pet

Keeping a pet-friendly community clean of waste is important for the health of all. Cleaning up after your pet is also a courteous gesture toward your fellow tenants. Some communities may also charge a fine if you don't pick up after your pet. Besides waste, it's also best to pick up after your pet if they make other messes (like shredding a nearby object).

Cat making messes

Keeping your pet-friendly apartment clean

Having pets is a challenge, albeit a rewarding one. Odors, stains and messes are issues, but you can keep them to a minimum. These pet-friendly apartment cleaning tips and tricks will help you impress your landlord, as well as help your pet.


Odors are simply a part of renting when you have pets and even the best apartment pets have them. However, you can keep your pet-friendly apartment smelling nice and clean with these odor-eliminating solutions! Whether it's a foul-smelling litter box, musty dog bed or a ripe habitat, you can use store-bought and DIY cleaning solutions to cleanse your air and restore its fresh quality. Some of them also remove stains.

Taking the time to do what you can and tend to your space will not only save your landlord time and trouble, but it may keep them from having to use your pet deposit toward cleaning expenses.


Stains are inevitable. Your pets may have an accident, get sick or knock something over. If you have a puppy, potty training and mess-free bathing tricks can help keep stains from occurring. However, even pets who are house-trained have the occasional accident. Routinely walking your pet and letting them out to use the bathroom can prevent this, as can keeping a clean litter box.

After a visit outside or to the pet park, your pet may have messy paws. Paw washers can keep their paws clean, or you can simply wipe them off before coming back inside.


Thankfully, many messes are avoidable. Ensuring your pet has plenty of chew toys is crucial to keeping your cherished items from being chomped on. Also, keeping the trash out of reach and taking it out when it's full can curb your pet's desire to dump it over and take a look. To them, it seems like a treasure trove of fun (and food) to dig through!

It's all about removing those oh-so-tempting things that they may find themselves aching to get into. Planning, preparation and puppy-proofing or cat-proofing can keep their mischievous natures at bay.

Finding a pet-friendly apartment

Rent. is here to help simplify renting for pet owners. We offer easy ways to search for pet-friendly apartments and find the ideal place for you and your precious companion! After all, life is not the same without them. Rent. helps you find everything you need to know with our extensive pet blog articles dedicated to pet-loving renters like you. We wish you the best of luck on your journey!

The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal or financial advice. Readers are encouraged to seek professional legal or financial advice as they may deem it necessary.