Searching for a pet-free rental — it’s a jungle out there

July 29

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Nancy Simmons Starrs is president and founder of Apartment Detectives, a D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia apartment search service. This week, Starrs, who writes an occasional column on rental issues, answers a reader’s question.

I may be moving in the next few months and as I search online, I have noticed that nearly every apartment building is listed as “pet-friendly.” 

Do you know if there are any apartment buildings that do not allow any kind of pets (except for persons with disabilities)?  I love all types of animals but after living in apartments for 14 years, I’m getting tired of the unwanted smells, noises and mishaps in the lobby, elevator and stairwells.  Do you have any suggestions on how I can successfully research apartment buildings that do not accept pets? – A.R.

Recently, there have been several apartment buildings in the D.C. area that have just started to allow pets. This is great news for people who have been dreaming of the day that they can finally have a pet. But this is not the ideal living environment for everyone.

As you pointed out, there are a few issues that can come with a building that allows pets if the common areas are not well monitored. Accidents can happen in the hallways, elevators, stairwells or lobbies. If these accidents are not taken care of, they can lead to unwanted smells, noises and unwanted surprises left behind.

Some tenants may have to work from home frequently and need a quiet environment. Severe allergies to pets can sometimes make it truly impossible for some people to live in a pet-friendly building. You, obviously, are trying to avoid these issues as you search for a  future home.

Here are some tips to help you find a non pet-friendly apartment:

• Friends and co-workers can be a good resource. Ask them where they live or have lived and if the property is pet-friendly.

• Check with the local management companies. Ask them which properties have a no-pet policy. This will give you a list of non pet-friendly options. Talk to each individual property and ask the management if there have ever been pets allowed and if there are any plans to change their pet policies in the future.

You might also ask if there will be any future changes in management. You will want to be aware of this —  a new management company can have different pet policies. If there is a management change, you could move into a building where the current pet policies may change. You should visit the property in person, just to be sure. There are some properties that have a more flexible, out-of-sight, out-of-mind policy about pets.

• Consider renting an apartment in a condo or co-op building. In most cases, the pet policies will stay the same as they have been — unless the condo owners decide to make a change in those policies. Just because an owner is not allowing pets in the condo they are renting, this does not mean the building is not pet-friendly.

Check with the management or ask to see a copy of the condo rules and regulations. You ought to check to make sure there is not a proposed change in the pet policy coming up in the future. Typically, there will not be quick changes that you won’t be made aware of in advance.

• Rent a single-family home or town house where you won’t have common areas to share or noise from other residents either furry or human.

• If you are in a position to buy a home, this is a more certain way to control your living environment. If you buy a home in a condominium or co-op, you have the option to join or be active on your condominium or co-op board to make sure you have a say in the quiet enjoyment of your home.

Not everyone is in a position to buy a home, so hopefully these tips will be helpful in renting a wonderful place to call home that is free of pets.

Read Nancy Simmons Starrs’s previous columns:

The pros and cons of renting a basement apartment

How to stay within budget in the expensive D.C. rental market

Tips on finding a pet-friendly rental

How to land a great rental in the competitive D.C. market

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