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“Sorry, no pets allowed.” That four-word phrase is the bane of all pet owners searching for an apartment, and it can shatter their dreams of finding the perfect place for them and their furry friends.

Fearing property damage and noise complaints, many landlords are wary of household animals and might enforce no-pet policies. If you’re a pet owner on the lookout for a rental, though, don’t worry: You have options.

Best-Case Scenario
Of course, the best option is to find an apartment that openly accepts pets. Reach out to a real estate agent, or check classified ads and real estate websites for listings that say “pets allowed.” You can also contact local animal care and control agencies, which may know of pet-friendly rental communities.

Because such listings are less common, make sure to give yourself plenty of time to find the right one. If you’re moving out of your current rental, start searching about two months before your lease expires.

Making Your Case
Now, what if you fall in love with an apartment that has a no-pets policy–or, say, only accepts cats when you have a dog? All hope might not be lost. Some cautious landlords could be willing to make an exception, and it doesn’t hurt to ask. Here are a few tips to help you make a convincing case:

Provide references. If you’ve already rented with your pet, ask your previous landlord to write a letter stating you were a responsible tenant and your pet caused no problems.

Create a resume. Developing a resume for your pet is a simple and creative way to let a prospective landlord learn about your animal’s qualities. Include a photo and your pet’s name, breed, age, weight and height. Note that your pet is house-trained and any other positive behaviors. Attach a letter from your veterinarian showing the pet is up-to-date on vaccinations and that it has been spayed or neutered. You could also help elicit sympathy by writing a brief adoption story and listing your pet’s favorite activities.

Set up a meeting. If written documents aren’t convincing enough, ask if the landlord would be willing to meet your pet; seeing that the animal is well behaved–not to mention cute–might alleviate the landlord’s concerns.

Offer to pay extra. Given that a landlord’s main worry is likely animal-related damage to the apartment, offer to pay more if you can afford it. The landlord might be willing to accept a pet security deposit or want you to pay an extra pet fee on monthly rent. If you have more than one pet, expect the cost to increase.

Check the Lease
Even if a landlord verbally says it’s OK for you to have a pet, get it in writing; the lease could protect you if the landlord has a change of heart later or other issues arise. Read a lease carefully to ensure it doesn’t include a no-pets clause, and if it does, don’t sign it until the language is removed or crossed out and initialed by both parties. If you agreed to a pet deposit or monthly fees, make sure that’s included in the lease, as well.

Be Truthful
When searching for an apartment as a pet owner, it’s essential to be upfront with a potential landlord, especially if there’s a no-pet rule. Hiding a secret pet or lying about how many animals you have can be stressful, and a landlord is bound to find out the truth sooner or later. More importantly, however, such violations could subject you and your furry friend to possible eviction or other troubles. Before renting a new apartment, honesty is the best policy.

This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional or legal advice.

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