For the Tenant

Robert Herskovitz, a Corcoran real estate agent who specializes in helping clients with pets, suggests contacting animal rescue or advocacy groups to ask for housing advice.  Mr. Herskovitz cautioned that listings for rental properties can be vague about pet policies. “Don’t assume because it says nothing that it’s either pet-friendly or not pet-friendly,” he said. “That could eliminate a lot of properties that may actually be willing to accept your pet.”

If you’re currently in search of dog or cat-friendly housing, rental sites like Zumper.com are a great place to start the hunt. When you are looking for a pet friendly property also keep in mind that most new construction buildings allow pets as a way to attract new tenants. There’s a pet-friendly filter so you can narrow down the results to only cat-friendly options. Growth analyst at Zumper Ina Herlihy recommends searching by neighborhood description as well, so you can choose housing based on proximity to parks and such. You may also want to focus on ground-floor units if you have a pet who likes to go outside. Easy access to grass is a huge amenity and convenience for letting your pet out quickly. Ground floor is also optimal for aging pets or big breed pets that could have arthritic or orthopedic and mobility conditions. It is one thing carrying a disabled chihuahua up a flight of stairs compared to a St. Bernard.

In cities, co-op boards and condo associations will probably want to meet the pets to make sure they are not giant-sized and are well behaved. Some trainers specialize in preparing dogs for their star turn in front of a board. “Go to the dog parks and ask people how they got their apartments,” said Diane West, the publisher of New York Tails, a magazine for city pet owners. “That’s the best advice I’ve heard, and it actually works.”

Teri Karush Rogers, the editorial director at BrickUnderground.com, a New York City real estate guide, suggests gathering photos of your dog interacting with people and other animals; getting references from your groomer, veterinarian or neighbor; and outlining your dog’s routine — for instance, explaining that you plan to hire a dog walker.

Contact the landlord if the pet rules are ambiguous. Once you find a place, make sure any lease you sign indicates that you are allowed to have a dog or cat — or several pets, if that is the case. “Get clear written permission as part of the lease,” said Darryl Vernon, a partner in the law firm Vernon & Ginsburg who specializes in housing cases involving pets. Because some leases include a clause affirming that the lease supersedes any other agreement between the tenant and the landlord, including oral approval of a dog or cat, Mr. Vernon emphasized that including this language in the actual lease gives a tenant more protection.

 

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