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Have a pet and need to rent? Be prepared

Apartments.com reported that more landlords have loosened pet policies over the past 18 months. The online apartment listing firm says landlords are responding to the spike in demand from renters searching for pet-friendly digs. • Job losses and pay cuts also have forced more renters to double up and roommates to share space with a four-legged roommate. • Renters should read pet policies closely and be ready to pony up more money for Fido or Whiskers. And if roommates are in the picture, be ready to smooth over any pet introductions. Here are some tips to keep your landlord and roommate happy with your pet. Associated Press

For your landlord

Get permission: If you already have a lease in place, but want to add a furry companion, pass it by your landlord first. Some properties have strict "no pets allowed" policies. If you sneak one in, you run the risk of the landlord finding out and having to choose between getting rid of your pet or breaking your lease, which could be costly. Even if the property accepts pets, the property will likely require a pet deposit. And your landlord will appreciate the heads up.

Do a targeted search: If you're looking for a new place with your pet, narrow your search using online apartment search sites. Read descriptions carefully, however, for any caveats, such as weigh or breed restrictions.

Read the fine print: Make sure you understand the pet policy. Some pet deposits will cover damages while others won't. Also, some leases will list your pet as a "tenant" on the lease with a clause preventing you from getting another pet. Include pre-existing damage to your apartment in your lease, so you and your pet aren't blamed for it when you vacate.

Open your wallet: Apartment.com estimates that more than half of renters pay more than $500 for a pet deposit. But that widely varies by area, apartment and type of pet.

Be a good neighbor: If you can't muzzle your dog while you're at work, try obedience school to tame its barking. But remember that pet-friendly apartments are typically louder anyway.

Also, don't let your cats or dogs wander public areas unleashed. Most apartments have rules against that. Regardless, it's disrespectful to your neighbors and could be dangerous to your pet.

Last, pick up after your dog.

For your roommate

Full disclosure: If you're looking for a roommate, make sure to mention your furry friend in the posting. Some people are allergic to pets or don't like them at all. And be honest, too. Does your dog play hide-and-seek with shoes or does your cat never relinquish the right side of the couch? This may be cute to you, but annoying to someone else.

Meet and greet: Before your potential roommate moves in, introduce your pet to him or her. Some people might not realize they are allergic to certain types of animals.

1+1=2: Does your roommate have a pet too? Don't expect the two to hit it off right away. Introducing one pet to another takes time, patience and maybe a little bribery with pet treats. And some pets prefer to be loners no matter what. Make sure you have a contingency plan if that happens.

Be responsible: Don't expect your roommate to feed, clean or look after your pet. It's possible he or she may happily volunteer to take on responsibilities, but those automatically fall to you. Also, if your dog or cat makes a mess, clean it up immediately. And vacuum, dust and sweep regularly.

Have a pet and need to rent? Be prepared 06/29/09 [Last modified: Monday, June 29, 2009 10:00pm]

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

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