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Check Apartment Lease Before Buying a Pet

Avoid Unnecessary Frustration in the Middle of Your Lease Term

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Tenant reviewing a lease

A little homework can ensure buying a pet for your apartment is a happy experience.

© Andersen Ross / Getty Images

Many apartment hunters don't own a pet and have no intention of buying a pet for their new apartment. As a result, these prospective tenants usually choose an apartment without caring much about the landlord's pet policy.

Often enough, tenants change their mind in the middle of the lease term and suddenly have the desire for canine or feline companionship. If you ever find yourself in this situation, don't let your enthusiasm get in the way of checking whether your landlord allows pets and, if so, what rules tenants who own pets must follow. The last thing you want is to welcome Fifi into your home only to receive a stern letter from the property manager informing you that you're in material violation of your lease.

To prevent problems, check your lease before buying a pet to see what it says about having a pet in your apartment. Your lease will probably contain some language on the matter, ranging from a short paragraph or clause to a multi-page "pet addendum" that's attached to the end of the lease and spells out the landlord's requirements, such as weight or breed restrictions. Glossing over these rules could lead to frustrating situations, such as bringing home a 43-pound dog only to learn too late that pets over 40 pounds aren't allowed in the building.

Even landlords who run pet-friendly buildings often require tenants to follow basic procedures aimed at ensuring everyone's health and safety, and protecting property. For instance, you may need to provide information about a new pet to your landlord, including proof that the pet was spayed or neutered, and your landlord may ask you to sign a pet agreement in which you agree, among other things, to clean up after your pet and pay for any damage that your pet may cause.

If you check your apartment lease and discover that pets aren't allowed, then you must determine how important it is for you to have that dog, cat, or other animal you've had your eye on. Unless you can convince your landlord to make an exception to the building's pet rules (or you qualify for an exception as a reasonable accommodation for a disability), you can decide whether it makes sense not to renew your lease when it comes due and move to a pet-friendly building.

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