Renting With Your Pit Bull
MONDAY, JULY 25, 2016
If you’ve ever lived in the San Diego with your Pit Bull, then you know finding reasonable pit-friendly housing can be a NIGHTMARE! We hope these tips can help make the search a little easier...
“House for rent, dog-friendly, only dogs that
are under 15 lbs, and no aggressive breeds.”
How many times have you scanned Craigslist to find DOG-FRIENDLY HOUSING only to read the fine print at the bottom? “Weight limit is 30 lbs,” or “no aggressive breeds,” can be discouraging and we agree, renting in San Diego is tough! But it’s NOT IMPOSSIBLE!
Image credit: badrap.org
First of all, don’t wait until the last minute. Start checking ads and contacting rental agencies EARLY IN ADVANCE (six weeks is the rule of thumb). Since pit-friendly housing is a commodity, give yourself enough time to plan ahead and be persistent! Have your “Doggie Resume” prepared (we’ll touch on that later) and any material you may need, like a copy of your recent pay stubs, your credit score (to save you from paying for a credit check), and letters of reference from past landlords and neighbors.
Second, consider your location. The closer you are to the beach, the higher rent will be and less pit-friendly housing will be available. East County (think of La Mesa, El Cajon, Lakeside and even Alpine) and North County (Carlsbad, San Marcos, Temecula) have far more rentals available to large dog owners like us. You may have a longer commute to work, but isn’t the precious face of your dog greeting you at the door worth the extra 15 miles in gas?
Third, decide your budget and type of housing. Many property management companies do not allow “dangerous breeds” (like American Pit Bull Terriers, Mastiffs, German Shepherds, Huskies, Rottweilers, Great Danes, etc.) so you may be looking in the wrong place. Apartment buildings are typically run by property offices that get their rules handed to them by their insurance policies which restrict certain breeds. Although we know our dogs aren’t “dangerous” it’s an unfortunate truth that the majority of insurance companies have restrictions based primarily on breed. These are the types of rental properties to avoid. Properties with HOAs can also pose problems that limit the breed and or size of dogs permitted.
Individual homeowners who rent out their houses may be more inclined to rent to pet owners, plus they tend to have more lenient insurance policies. Maybe you can’t afford a 3 bedroom house, and that’s okay too! Look for roommates, or even look for rooms for rent online and move into someone else’s home (room shares). Individual properties with yards may be more inclined to rent out to you and your dog knowing you’ll appreciate the space. Take the time to get to know the homeowner and have your “Doggie Resume” ready.
Fourth, what resources are you using? There are a TON of resources available to us, and thanks to the world wide web, it’s available in real time. The usual go-to is Craig’s List and if you’re okay with filtering through a few hundred phishing ads and scams, there can be gems hidden among the sea of dog-friendly listings. Try using keywords like “no breed restrictions” or “pit bull” and a few local hot spots may pop up, and continue to look every day because new listings are posted every minute. Make sure to ALWAYS READ THE FINE PRINT, that means scrolling down through the entire ad to make sure there aren’t unreasonable weight restrictions or breed bans included.
There are more sources available, like the newly founded database brought to us by My Pit Bull is Family that features pit bull-friendly housing all over the U.S. (please keep in mind this is a fairly new database of listings and to always contact the rentals directly to make sure they are currently accepting new tenants). There are also rental agencies you can contact that may require a small fee in order to find a rental in your price range and can accommodate your furry loved ones. Check out Zillow.com, Apartments.com, Hotpads.com, Trulia.com, and the list goes on... also check local newspapers and ad agencies that may post weekly rentals and tell your friends! Word of mouth can be a very powerful tool, so use it!
Fifth, be prepared. THESE FIVE TIPS WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE!!!!!
1. Doggie Resume - this is exactly what it sounds like. Create a resume of your dog and his/her personal traits and achievements and make sure it’s eye-catching! Include the basics: Name, age, breed (mix), color, spayed/neutered, UTD on vaccinations, etc.
Keep current documentation of your dog’s vaccination records, spay or neuter certificate, rabies vaccination, and include your vet’s number and address. Some landlords are concerned about fleas, so make sure to include what flea preventative plan you use and agree to pay for any flea treatments if an infestation were to occur (San Diego has fleas year-round just FYI).
Did your dog graduate from Dog Obedience 101? Keep a copy of all training certificates and papers with you, including special training like CGC (Canine Good Citizen). You can sign up your dog for CGC classes at your local San Diego Humane Society or check out the gazillion trainers readily available in San Diego, varying based on your budget. If your doctor has given you a doctor’s note stating your dog is a legitimate ESA (Emotional Support Animal) there are similar laws protecting your pet just like a service animal. Please note: WE DO NOT ENCOURAGE FALSELY IDENTIFYING YOUR DOG AS A SERVICE ANIMAL.
Include pictures of your dog playing with other furry friends (dogs, cats, small pets, with kids and other adults... a picture that illustrates your dog as being well socialized can make a world of difference in the eyes of a landlord. Also make sure your pet is well groomed, the appearance of a well maintained dog will carry over into your maintenance of their home. Show them that you take pride in your dog’s health and appearance and are willing to do the same for their house.
Getting references and letters from your vet, current or past landlords, and neighbors can show how well-liked your dog is from an unbiased source. They can write things about how much they’ve enjoyed getting to know you and your dog, and can include statements like how your dog isn’t a nuisance and doesn’t bark around the clock.
2. Renter’s Insurance - Sign up for renter’s insurance and make sure your policy covers your dog (again, some insurance companies have breed restrictions so make sure you choose wisely). MSome policies will even give you the option to add your landlord’s name to the coverage plan in case anything ever happens on your property with your dog. Keep in mind not all dog-related insurance claims are bites. Sometimes high-energy dogs get too excited and may jump to greet someone and knock them over. It’s a good idea to have all your bases covered JUST IN CASE. Here’s a list of commonly used Insurance Companies that will cover you and your dog: State Farm; Canine Liability Dean Insurance; USAA (for military, veterans and families of veterans); and Einhorn Insurance (knowledgeable brokers who can help you find a policy that’s right for you.)
3. Be Honest - Never try to hide your pet and rent a place without fully disclosing that you are a pet owner. Not only will this get you in trouble with your landlord and you could be evicted, this adds to the general consensus that pit bull owners are not responsible and gives us all a bad rap. On the other hand, when agreeing to rent from an individual home owner or from a property management company, make sure to get it in writing that your dog is also allowed to reside on the property. You want to make sure they are aware of your dog, their size/weight, and any other requirements they may ask for (like vet records - again a “Doggie Resume” can be very handy!)
4. Money Talks - If you’re in a position to offer pet rent or an additional deposit, consider offering to pay more money up front. More times than not, a landlord will be willing to negotiate rental terms with you if you make it clear money is not the priority, but your pet is. Let them know you will be able to pay for any and all pet-related damages to the home, and even ask that the landlord include an addendum to the lease that indicates what the landlord expects of you and your pet. Be willing to negotiate terms - maybe a longer lease will show your landlord you’re serious about finding a pit bull-friendly rental and that you plan to stay put! Or maybe a shorter lease term to give yourself time to show them that you are a responsible pet owner and worthy of signing a long-term lease.
5. First Impressions Matter - Whatever you do, be kind. We understand the frustration that comes with renting with pit bulls - trust us, we’ve been there!! Finding home owners or rental properties that turn you away at the first mention of “pit bull” can put a bitter taste in your mouth. But please remember this often comes from ignorance or lack of education. Maybe a home owner had a bad experience with a previous renter with a dog? Maybe they don’t know how lucky they are to be in the presence of such a PAWSOME dog as yours, and offer a time to have them meet your dog before saying “no”. Spread awareness with a smile, and you’ll be sure to attract more would-be landlords than with a scowl on your face. Be a representative of the breed and show them how wonderBULL pit bulls and their owners can be!
We wish you luck in your search! If you have more questions please don’t hesitate to contact us. We may not have a list of properties to give you, but we are always willing to provide resources where you can look.