Pet-Friendly Housing: Tips for Renters and Landlords

All too often, families are forced to make difficult decisions and part ways with their animal companions due to their living situation. Nationally, “no pets allowed" and "moving" remain some of the most common reasons animals are brought to shelters.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Tips for renters -

  • Be persistent! Finding pet-friendly rentals will take longer and you may have to extend your search outside of the community you’re looking to live in.
  • Advocate for your pet. Prepare a “pet resume” with information including their breed, age, vaccination history, and spay/neuter status. Get references from past landlords and include any training certificates your pet has earned!
  • Pledge to keep your pet clean, groomed, and up to date on vaccines. Keep cats indoors to keep them safe and avoid any conflicts with neighbors.

Is your pet a service animal?

It is illegal for landlords to prohibit service animals from rental property, even if that rental property is otherwise not pet-friendly. In 2011, HUD issued a memo stating that dogs without specialized training, animals other than dogs, and "emotional support" animals must be allowed in housing settings under the Fair Housing Act and Section 504.

If you want to explore your rights to have an assistance animal in rental housing, contact the Massachusetts Fair Housing Center at 413-539-9796.

Are you a landlord considering a pet policy?

People with pets tend to stay in rental housing longer and can be some of your best tenants. Some steps you can take to find great, animal-loving tenants include -

  • A clear, written agreement with the tenant about having pets and the requirements for them to live in the home. Specify the number and type of pets allowed.
  • Set clear rules about how and when pets may be allowed outdoors. Many apartment communities prefer an “indoor only” restriction on cats to help protect landscaping and wildlife. Rules should specify that dogs be kept leashed in the building or in other community areas.

Behaviors of intact cats and dogs can lead to property damage and create a nuisance for other tenants. Consider requiring that all cats and dogs above the age of six months be spayed/neutered. Dakin’s Community Spay/Neuter Clinic is accepting appointments for dogs, cats, and rabbits.


Click here for more information and tips for renters and landlords to create a safe, pet-friendly community.

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