Pets? Bad Credit? Eviction? There's an Apartment for You.

By Ruth Mantell
Saturday, April 28, 2007

Terry gets free meals and maid service, but the year-old pit bull mix spends his days in a concrete-floor pen.

He was dropped off at the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria because his owners were moving -- a top reason that pets are left at shelters. In a recent renter survey by, more than one-third of respondents said they found it difficult to find an apartment that allowed pets.

But even if your baggage includes animals, or other concerns such as financial problems or a previous eviction, there are ways to persuade landlords to rent to you.

Behavior counts for a lot, experts say.

"Your best way to move with animals is to make sure that the animals are well-behaved," said Tara Blot, executive director of the Alexandria facility.

Breeds perceived as dangerous may not be covered by insurance, and tenants with three parakeets, two turtles and four dogs are going to have problems finding an apartment or a house.

Owners of cats and small dogs -- 20 pounds or less, as defined by the American Kennel Club -- will have an easier time finding a rental. Yet it is possible to get your big dog into an apartment

Years ago, when Blot was trying to find a place that would take her two Great Pyrenees dogs, which weighed in at a total of about 200 pounds, she invited the landlord to meet the dogs "and see that they were calm, low-key, well-behaved dogs," she said. Many properly trained and socialized large dogs are more sedate than their toy counterparts and can pose less risk of property damage.

To show that you are a responsible owner, bring a copy of the veterinarian's last bill and records of your pet's registration and health history, including shots. The AKC's Canine Good Citizen Program certifies dogs that have good manners at home and in the community.

"The landlord's going to be concerned about the damage that your pet is going to do," Blot said. "If you have a well-behaved pet, you are less likely to have damage."

Pet owners can also get a recommendation letter from their vet or a previous landlord.

"If you've lived somewhere with this pet before, why not ask for references from where you lived before?" Blot said.

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