The first rule in the game of How to Live Happily with Fluffy is, of course, to seek only apartments that allow pets. If these explicitly-fine-with-Fido properties are lacking in your area, however, don’t despair. There are a number of ways to increase your chances of convincing Landlord-to-Be that your pet won’t be a problem. (The first rule in this game is to seem—and actually be—a responsible tenant. Read on.)
Look for smaller properties—and skip the obvious “no pet” advertisements
Large-scale apartment properties tend to have property-wide rules; managers of smaller places are more likely to be flexible, and allow their relationships with tenants to decide what rules to set. Look for these smaller places, but don’t contact ones that overtly state they prohibit pets. It’s dishonest, and very likely a waste of time. Apartments advertised without such a prohibition might still scorn pets, but if they’re bothering to tell you up front, the issue is probably non-negotiable.
Know when to introduce the subject
Realty Times suggests not mentioning your pet unless asked, at least until you meet the landlord in person. Call about an apartment, present yourself as a responsible and amiable person, but don’t make the initial conversation about your pet; you don’t want it to seem like a “problem.” Similarly, don’t wait until move-in day to present your puppy. Establish a rapport, go see the property, and then broach the subject. Honesty is the best policy—the landlord will appreciate it, and you’ll avoid problems later.
Make a strong case
While you don’t want to jump straight into all of your rationales for why someone should let Sylvester move in with you, do have those rationales handy if a property manager expresses doubt. Prepare a pet resume, both to show you’re serious and to demonstrate that your pet is well behaved. Offer to provide letters of reference from past landowners (and actually have them to provide, otherwise things could get awkward). Mention that you’d be happy to pay a pet deposit. The landlord should know three things: 1) that your pet can be trusted, 2) that you’ll take full responsibility in the incredibly unlikely event of a problem and 3) that you love the apartment enough to make this extra effort.
Argue your pet is a service animal
We’re really not suggesting that you commit fraud. If you have a real physical or psychological need for your animal, you may have rights to living with him or her. While these allowances are usually limited to registered service dogs, I know someone whose therapist wrote a letter explaining that her cat was crucial to her emotional recovery, and the property managers gave her an exception to their policy. I’m guessing most landlords won’t go for this, but if you have a serious dependence on your pet—besides just extra cuddles—it might be worth exploring how you could prove it to your prospective landlord.