Your dog is your best friend. And you’ll always consider them when making big life decisions, such as moving to a new apartment. Some of the biggest challenges for a pet owner is finding the right apartment that allows them to rent with their pets. Even in cities with amazing dog parks like New York, it can still be difficult to find an apartment that will also take your furry friend. If you’re lucky to find an apartment that allows your dog, you might run into another common hurdle: breed restrictions.
Breed restrictions, also known as breed-specific legislation, can disqualify a pet owner’s rental application. However, there are some ways to get around breed restrictions when applying for a lease. It’s essential to brush up on what restriction breeds are for your area, why they exist, and how you can strategically overcome them in your next rental application so you can find a pet-loving home.
What are apartment breed restrictions?
Apartment breed restrictions are a set of rules that many apartment buildings impose to prohibit certain breeds, typically dogs, from living in their apartment units for a variety of reasons. Generally speaking, apartments may apply these restrictions to dog breeds that the property owner may deem unsuitable for their living environment.
For example, they may regard certain breeds to be too large in size or too heavy. Most often apartments will impose restrictions on breeds not only based on behavior but also on size, weight, age, and amount of exercise needed. Apartments are usually smaller, so a landlord may restrict breeds by weight and age because they don’t want a large dog on site. They may take age as a factor because puppies are known to be extremely active and could cause wear and tear in the apartment.
If the property is not adequately prepared for certain breeds, the simplest solution for the landlord may be to stay safe and choose to impose breed restrictions. This solution may even be out of the landlord’s hands, a decision imposed by the property management company, insurance company, or the city.
Why do apartments have breed restrictions?
As a pet owner, you might have heard, “sorry, no pets!” It’s discouraging to see some of these policies across varying advertisements for rentals. Even though your four-legged friend may always be on their best behavior, your landlord may not help but feel worried their paws might scratch the new hardwood floors. Landlords and property managers impose breed restrictions to avoid possible damages and liability, which is a reason why pet fees exist today.
Insurance issues are another reason why apartments created restrictions on breeds. Insurance companies provide coverage to apartments that are obligated to compensate for the costs and liability damages that are resulted from any damages or injuries that occur on the property. To minimize risk, insurers may offer insurance to apartments with breed restrictions. Unfortunately, this can make it difficult for renters to find apartments that allow their specific dog breed.
The most common pet rental restrictions include:
- No pet policy: This policy is straightforward, meaning no pets are allowed to live in a unit under any circumstances. Take this restriction seriously, and never sneak a pet or hide an animal from your landlord. This is considered a breach of contract and could result in losing your rental or you having to possibly re-home your pet.
- Number of pets: This is a common restriction and is usually based on the agreement that you will not get any more pets than the one you originally moved in with, unless approved by your landlord. This can also mean there is a restriction on a specific number of pets that can live in a single unit at one time.
- Breed restrictions: Unfortunate as it is, some rentals limit the types of breeds allowed in their units. These restrictions may be based on breed-specified legislation within their local communities, insurance restrictions, or landlord preferences.
Breeds that some apartments classify as restricted
Before you look for a new apartment, it’s important to understand how breed restrictions can impact your ability to rent with a pet. Breed restrictions are put in place to protect people and property imposed by legislation made at the city or county level, insurance companies, and decisions made by property managers or landlords. Keep in mind breed restrictions can vary by apartmen, and some may not have them at all.
Dog trainer and founder of Matador Canine Brilliance, Michael Accetta explains that “society trends and dog breed prejudices vary throughout the years, breed restrictions change from apartment to apartment. For the majority of the time, larger dogs over 25 – 30lbs tend to be affected greatly. Many dogs in the working or sporting groups are also restricted due to their high energy levels and potential for property damage.”
Examples of commonly Restricted dog breeds:
- Great Danes
- Doberman Pinschers
- Cane Corsos
- Pit Bull Terriers
- German Shepherds
- Staffordshire Terriers
“Great Danes and Bernese Mountain dogs have a reputation for not barking as much, but will likely exceed weight restrictions for apartments. French bulldogs, bulldogs, Shih Tzu’s, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Whippets tend to be acceptable sizes for apartments and tend to be less likely to bark up a storm. Apartments tend to restrict breeds such as Pit Bulls, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Boxers, Mastiffs, Doberman Pinschers, Malamutes and a few others. While individuals within each of these breeds can potentially make wonderful pets, in general they can be more prone to challenging behavior issues especially if they are not with a highly skilled and dedicated owner,” says professional animal behavior expert Rachel Salant of Veterinarians.org.
If your dog also happens to be mixed with one of the breeds on your apartment’s restriction list, you may still have trouble applying to that particular community. Check with your property manager or leasing agent if you happen to find yourself in this situation.
How to work around breed restrictions when renting
Although you consider your dog family, some apartment buildings may not welcome your pet if they come from a specific breed. If your dog is not welcome due to their breed, there are a couple of things you can do to persuade your landlord to give your beloved fur baby a chance. Here are some recommendations that can help you overcome breed restrictions:
Don’t hide your dog
Be the kind of tenant your landlord doesn’t want to lose. Try scheduling a pet interview with your landlord as a part of your application. If your landlord finds that you have brought a restricted breed into your living environment without permission, you may face some penalties. If your lease specifies a pet policy restriction that you’ve breached, your landlord can charge you a fee or possibly terminate your lease.
Create a pet resume
To make your case convincing, create a list of details showing your landlord why your dog blends well with your targeted apartment community. Some things you should consider in your pet’s resume are training certificates, vet records, and photos or videos that exemplify your pet’s demeanor.
Offer to pay an extra pet deposit or pet fee
If they still seem hesitant, even after meeting your dog or reviewing your pet resume, “negotiate, offer a pet deposit or a small increase in rent to help them justify a potential decision to accept your pet,” recommends Galen Kauffman from My Golden Retriever Puppies. If your landlord doesn’tt charge pet deposits or fees, you can suggest one. You can offer more than your lease’s standard amount to show confidence in your future living arrangement as a tenant.
Show training certifications
Your landlord may be more open-minded if you show them “training certifications and pet history. This is helpful but may not guarantee your dog from getting off the restricted breed list,” recommends Ruben Montes, a dog trainer at Kindred Dog PDX. Despite your landlord’s concerns, this tells your landlord that your dog is well-behaved and will not disturb the peace in the community.
Pet DNA Testing
If your landlord believes your dog is considered in the restricted dog breeds list, a way to prove your animal is not entirely a banned breed is to show your dog’s DNA testing certificate. This test offers a breakdown of your animal’s breed and information about them going back several generations. Alex Klinghoffer, CEO of Quiet Spot, believes your best bet is to “get your vet to provide documentation on the breed of your dog as ‘lab mix’ or another common dog breed mix. Most dogs are not purebred and many vets will designate them a mixed breed of a non-restricted breed if asked.”
You might be a little biased when it comes to describing your dog’s temperament to your landlord, that’s why getting a reference can best position your case for a more honest evaluation. Dani Miles from Ollie and an expert in pet health, highly recommends “getting letters of recommendation from previous landlords or neighbors,” or references from professionals, such as trainers, who interact with your pet on a regular basis.
Look into service animal certifications or emotional support licenses
The Fair Housing Act specifies that landlords cannot deny tenants with service dogs, including emotional support dogs. Even if a lease says “no pets” or pets are restricted, your landlord must make reasonable accommodations to allow your pet to serve as an assistant animal. “If your dog is an Emotional Support Animal (ESA), your landlord cannot enforce breed restrictions. That’s because restricting access to your ESA is a violation of the American Disabilities Act (ADA), ” explains Kyle Haubrich, Course Author from Pet Sitter Course. Kyle says to prove your dog is an ESA, “you will need a letter from a licensed therapist. Your apartment might accept an ESA letter from an online service, however, some landlords will require a personalized letter, on a therapist’s letterhead, that explains how your ESA helps you in daily life. ”
Buy pet liability insurance
As mentioned before, insurance issues are a common reason why apartments prohibit certain dog breeds. By getting a separate renter’s insurance policy that includes pet liability coverage, you might alleviate your landlord’s concerns. Many landlords require renters insurance whether or not a renter has a pet. If you’re in this situation, purchase a policy that covers pets and show your landlord.
Rent from private property owners
You may have more luck by simply applying to rent from private property owners. Large rental corporations may not be as lenient when it comes to breed restrictions compared to private owners, who may be more inclined to allow dogs or negotiate a deal with you.
Pet policy breed restrictions FAQs
What states have breed restrictions?
There are no breed restrictions designated at the state level to rent an apartment. However, counties and cities can ban entire dog breeds.
What is considered a small dog for apartments?
Most small dogs weigh 20 pounds or less. Different apartments may specify further weight limitations considering small dog breeds.
What is considered a large dog for apartments?
Apartments may set a weight limit between 20-50 pounds, depending on the apartment’s personal preference, though weight ranges may vary. 50 pounds or more are often considered a large dog.
How do apartments verify dog breeds?
The landlord can verify your dog’s breed by requesting an official DNA test from you or by showing the pet’s medical records.