In the past 10 years, there has been a large increase in properties in the Washington area that have changed their policies from shunning pets to welcoming pets.

While many rental communities have no weight restrictions for pets, they still have breed restrictions for dogs that are considered aggressive. Some properties allow up to three pets per apartment, no matter how small the unit. Studio apartments in the area average 300 to 500 square feet. That is not a lot of space for three pets and a person or two.

I love dogs, especially large dogs, but can you imagine if your upstairs neighbor had three Great Danes? Some dogs can weigh more than 100 pounds. That would be like three extra people living in the apartment.

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I can understand what caused such a dramatic shift in pet policies. It’s quite profitable to rent homes to people with pets. Most properties will charge an upfront fee of $250 to $750 per pet. Monthly pet rents can range from $25 to $75 per pet.

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As soon as these fees started being accepted as the norm, I saw many properties go from allowing no pets to allowing one or two small pets. These properties have to allow for possible cost of pet damage and for more frequent cleaning of the common areas, but there still seems to be room for a profit to be made.

Some properties limit the possible damage to the lobby by not allowing pets there. Some properties require the pets be carried through the lobby or put in a pet cart.

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So what do you do if you’re allergic to pets or simply don’t like them around you?

There are still some rental communities that do not allow any pets, with the exception of emotional support pets and service animals. There are also some property management companies that don’t advise homeowners to allow pets in their homes. Allowing pets with an irresponsible pet owner can sometimes result in damage to the property. Not allowing pets removes some potential risk of damage to a home.

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Here are a few tips on how to find a pet-free home:

• Look for individually owned condominiums. Condominiums have rules and regulations. Rules and regulations have to be voted on by owners to make a change in the rules, which doesn’t often happen overnight. Many condominiums are mostly majority owner-occupied. A condo owner who purchased a condo that does not allow pets is going to want to keep the property pet-free.

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• Cooperatives with a no-pet policy are another option. They will also have community rules and regulations. Typically, the majority of the property will be occupied by owners who purchased a home knowing it did not allow pets. These are a bit harder to find, as many cooperatives have very restrictive rules about renting.

• A rowhouse is a great option, as long as a pet has never lived in the home.

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• A single-family home where pets have not lived would be the best option for someone with severe allergies.

• There are some homeowners with severe allergies to pets who have plans to move back into their home at some point down the road. If you have severe allergies, these are the homeowners you will want to seek out as landlords.

Nancy Simmons Starrs is founder and president of Apartment Detectives, a D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia apartment-search service.

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