With increasing costs of living, stagnant wages, inflation, and uncertain times, there are so many obstacles to simply living at the moment. The pandemic was particularly rough for many and even with eviction and student loan moratoriums, many people had their lives uprooted or drastically changed. Those moratoriums provided a brief reprieve for many but now that they are no longer in effect, things have continued to be difficult. As people have gone back to work or school in person and as people lose their housing or jobs, animal surrenders have drastically increased and many animal shelters have been near or at capacity with animals.

Note: Everything here is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you are having landlord/tenant issues, please seek professional legal assistance. For low-income folks, there are resources available, like Law Advocates of Whatcom County in Washington.

According to the Pew Research Center, roughly 36% of US households are renters. Combined with skyrocketing rents/housing costs, limited pet-friendly rentals, and breed-specific legislation/policies, it can be incredibly difficult for people to find housing that’s both affordable and pet friendly. Organizations like the ASPCA are working hard to pass laws on the city, county, and state levels around the United States to increase housing opportunities for people and families with pets, like prohibiting property insurance companies from having breed-specific discrimination in their policies.

What to know and do as a renter, particularly if you have pets

If you are renting and have pets, there are things to know when looking for a new place. Again, these are just resources and are all meant to be informational. Nothing here should be construed as legal advice and it should be a starting point to finding more resources.

Show off your pet’s best qualities. Create a resume for them and include photos, any certifications/training they’ve done, and a recommendation from your current or recent landlord. Other things to include:

  • A letter or verification from your vet states your pet is altered and up to date on vaccines.
  • A copy of licensing paperwork if required in your city or county.

Know your rights. As a tenant, you do have rights and there are plenty of things landlords are not allowed to just do without going through some sort of legal process. Resources for tenants include:

Get everything in writing, particularly on a lease. Any lease that states “no pets allowed” should not be signed if you have pets and have communicated that with the landlord/manager. Even with direct verbal confirmation that your pet is okay, a lease should contain written documentation of the approval. Also, make sure you have a copy of the final lease and you’ve read through it. This can help clarify potential problems down the line and if there are issues, you can cite the exact wording in your lease that supports you. This also applies to any communication between you, your landlord, and the property management company. Keep the receipts of what’s said and by whom!

Try to make sure your pets aren’t damaging the property or being a nuisance. This goes for destructive scratching from cats, chewing or digging at the walls or doors, excessive barking, or inappropriate elimination. Accidents happen from time to time but if your pet is repeatedly and overwhelmingly causing damage or annoying neighbors, you could face issues with the landlord or property management.

If and when you move with a pet, there are things you can do to make sure that the move is successful or, at the very least, slightly less stressful for everyone involved. Make sure your pet has proper identification, both a collar with a tag and an updated microchip. Also make sure that all of their documentation is in a safe, accessible place. Depending on how far away you are moving, anti-anxiety medication for your pets might be helpful, something that your vet should be able to help with!

Organizations and Resources

Whether you need help or want to help but don’t know where to start, there are organizations across the US that help those with pets who are in search of housing or are in need for other reasons as well.

  • Praline’s Backyard Foundation offers free temporary housing for the pets of those fleeing domestic violence.
  • The Zoe Fund and Community Health Project from Animal Emergency Care and Shadows Forever Friends. The Zoe Fund provides financial assistance for low-income folks whose pets require emergency veterinary care and the Community Health Project is a pop-up clinic that offers pet vaccinations and other types of care.
  • The Pets Are Welcome Guide from the Humane Society of the United States
  • Human Animal Support Services is a great resource for those with animals and/or those working in the animal welfare field

%d bloggers like this: