Many psychologists have noted that pet ownership is beneficial to human beings. That’s especially true for those who live alone. However, large companion animals, like dogs and cats, are sometimes not allowed in apartments. Your landlord or property manager may completely ban pets. That can leave you to wonder if there are loopholes – with small, caged pets, for example.
Small pets that live in cages do get more leeway with apartment policies. That’s because they’re less likely to cause property damage. Certain species are also less prone to triggering allergies or creating a lot of noise. You may be able to bring a small pet into your apartment without even paying a pet deposit. However, there are exceptions, and you may need to work out an agreement with your landlord.
It’s always best to ask for clarification before signing a lease. By being honest with your landlord about the type of pet you have, they could offer more leeway. The best caged pets for an apartment will depend on the size of your living space. Usually, it’s safe to choose mice or rats, gerbils, hamsters, lizards, birds, or fish. You can also get more exotic pets, like chinchillas, bearded dragons, and some breeds of parrot.
Table of Contents:
- 1 Do Apartments Allow Small Pets?
- 2 Why Do Some Landlords Have a No Pets Clause?
- 3 Finding Pet-Friendly Rentals
- 4 What Are The Best Small Pets For Apartments?
- 5 Small, Cute Pets For Apartments
- 6 Do You Have To Pay A Pet Deposit For An Apartment?
- 7 No Pets Without Written Consent?
- 8 How to Convince Your Landlord to Let You Get a Pet
Do Apartments Allow Small Pets?
Pet policies are different for every apartment, be it an individual building or apartment complex. They’re at the discretion of the landlord or property manager. You’ll typically find that there’s more prejudice against large animals than small animals.
Those which are allowed to roam free throughout an apartment are also less desirable than caged pets. For example, your apartment may allow you to keep fish or a gerbil. However, the landlord could be less enthusiastic about a small dog.
It also depends on the style of apartment. Landlords may be more willing to allow a large pet in a large apartment. However, if you have a studio apartment, they could worry about a large dog causing damage. After all, big pets have more energy, take up more space, and require more maintenance.
In contrast, small, caged pets can be easily set on a desk or shelf. They stay within their enclosure and are unlikely to harm carpeting or walls. If you’re looking for a new apartment and want pets, semi-permanently caged ones may be the best option.
Why Do Some Landlords Have a No Pets Clause?
A study completed for Anthrozoös found that offering pet-friendly rentals was not only financially viable, but profitable for landlords. Nonetheless, many landlords remain staunchly against having pets – even small, caged ones – in their properties. This is a widespread viewpoint, in fact. It makes finding and keeping a rental property harder as a pet owner.
A paper in Housing Studies found that the low-quality and scarcity of pet-friendly rentals meant that pet owners were more likely to become and stay homeless. This problem is more widespread in certain areas and countries, of course. Australia, for example, has a very poor record for pet-friendly rental accommodations. The USA, by contrast, is slightly more pet-friendly, especially for small or caged pets.
It all depends on the landlord in question. Landlords these days are often reluctant to allow their tenants to keep pets because of concerns about:
- Potential property damage
- Hygiene and allergy-related issues
- Bad experience with previous pet-owning tenants
- The necessity for deep-cleans when a pet-owning tenant leaves
- The health of future or present tenants.
Perhaps the biggest reason for banning pets of every kind is property damage. Even small dogs can leave lasting impressions on an apartment. This can include:
- Hair on furniture, in carpeting, and on walls
- Damaged carpets
- Chewed furnishings
- Stains as a result of soiling
Additionally, allergies to dogs and cats are some of the most common in the U.S. today. Over 40 million Americans suffer from such allergies. As a result, it is far less common to find that pets of any kind are allowed in apartments.
Finding Pet-Friendly Rentals
It can be difficult to find pet-friendly rental properties. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give up hope just yet. There are plenty of things you can do to improve your chances of finding a property that fits you and your pets.
Do Your Research
Small, caged pets are going to offer you the greatest leeway. In any case, though, be sure to do your research before you approach any landlords or letting agencies. Does your state have certain laws about pet rights? Does the property have a history of allowing pets?
More than this, you should manage your expectations. For example, it’s reasonable to want a large yard when you have a large dog. However, these kinds of properties are rare, especially in cities, and they’re highly sought-after. This means that the landlord may not need to be pet-friendly to attract tenants. If they are, you will face stiff competition.
Seek Out A Letting Agent
When looking for an apartment, whether you have a pet or not, it’s wise to hire a letting agent. There are many that work passionately to help pet owners find suitable, pet-friendly rental apartments. Getting to know the staff there can be hugely helpful in finding a good place.
Get Your Paperwork Ready
Are you dealing with a letting agency or speaking directly with a landlord? In either case, it pays to have all your pets’ paperwork in order and readily available, including:
- Up-to-date vaccination records
- Microchip and license numbers
- A neuter/spay certificate
- Your vet’s contact information
It also pays to have recent photos of your pet(s). You should make sure that you are in the photos to give an idea of size. That’s especially true if you have a medium-sized pet cage.
Get Written References
If you have lived in previous rental properties with your pet, it can do wonders to have a written reference from landlords. Have these references:
- Attest to your pets’ good behavior
- Mention the lack of damage to their property as a result of your pet
This could do a great deal to convince other landlords to let their property to you.
What Are The Best Small Pets For Apartments?
Aside from choosing the right apartment, you need to choose the right pet. You’ll need to consider the main factors. The best small pets for an apartment will be:
- Pets that take up little space
- Small, quiet pets for apartments that share walls
- Pets in cages, which will create less mess or damage
- Pets that are easy to move, in case you’re a student or only living in an area for a short time
Not only does this raise the chances of your animal being accepted. It also offers several bonus advantages, since small pets are:
- Cheaper. They require less food and exercise. That’s especially true in contrast to big pets, like dogs.
- More accessible. You may need to seek a dog breeder for a puppy, but fish are easy to find in pet stores.
- Easier to maintain. A parrot won’t shed quite like a long-hair cat. This makes it easier to keep the apartment in good condition.
- Preferable for both landlords and tenants. You don’t have to share as much space with a gerbil, and it’s less likely to damage the property.
You should also consider the size of your apartment before choosing a pet. After all, your floor space can have a dramatic impact on your comfort – and the comfort of your pet.
A landlord may also be less willing to accept multiple pets in just a studio. If you were to upgrade to a one-bedroom, however, the property manager may be more willing to accommodate you.
Even small pets need a little space. If you’re in a little studio, then consider pets that never leave their enclosures. These can include fish or lizards.
With a little more space comes a little more freedom on pet size. Gerbils and hamsters, for example, may need a larger cage than fish. A one-bedroom apartment gives you the floor space to offer them one.
Some pets shouldn’t be caged 24/7. For example, it’s healthy for a rabbit to be let out and allowed to wander in your home when possible. A two-bedroom or larger apartment can stay tidy while still letting small pets roam on occasion.
Small, Cute Pets For Apartments
With that in mind, let’s explore the best animals to have in a rental apartment:
Fish make low-maintenance pets. They’re ideal for those who like to have another living creature about the home. They are also a great option for rental properties that have limited space. You can set up a tank, feed them once a day, and enjoy absolutely no noise.
There are downsides, of course. They lack personal interaction and have a short lifespan, depending on the species. Longer-lived and exotic fish can have significant costs attached to the set-up and maintenance of their tanks. They may also require specialist feed.
Even still, they pose little risk to a property. The main dangers come from the failure or damage of the aquarium.
Dwarf and indoor rabbits are great pets for those living in rented accommodation. That’s because:
- Rabbits are hygienic
- Easy to care for
- They give all of the affection that pets like fish cannot
- Bigger than rodents like mice, which we can’t really hug
- Their enclosures and feed can be fairly cheap.
With that said, some breeds are prone to medical complications. They should also be let out of their cages for mental stimulation and exercise. Of course, some breeds are very intelligent and can be toilet trained. This is a time-consuming process, but it is absolutely worth it.
Gerbils are an ideal caged pet for apartments. Sure, these energetic little critters can make a mess by kicking up their bedding, sawdust, and sand (which they require for bathing). However, this mess is unlikely to cause any damage if you keep on top of it. Furthermore, gerbils are:
- Do not produce a strong smell. Just be sure to change their bed regularly.
- Relatively cheap to keep and care for
- Tend to be robust in health, even if they are short-lived
There are downsides, however. They need a decent-sized cage and really should not be kept alone.
Guinea pigs are not only excellent pets for small children. They’re great to keep in rented accommodation. Like gerbils, they are:
- Produce little smell
- Unlikely to do damage to your property, though they can be a little messy
- They’re big enough to be hugged and cuddled a little, unlike gerbils, mice, and fish
- Guinea pigs are robust in health
- Longer-lived than most rodents
Chinchilla are classed as exotic pets. As desert creatures, they have thick fur and must bath in sand in order to stay clean. They should also be kept in pairs. Like gerbils, they are tidy creatures that produce little to no smell.
They can also create a lot of mess by kicking up their bedding and sand. However, this should cause no damage if you stay on top of it. The main downside is the cost associated with keeping them. They require a large, specialized cage.
Rats and Mice
Rodents like rats and mice are fairly common pets for those who have limited space. They are:
- Low-cost pets
- Form remarkably strong emotional bonds with their owners.
You can train them to perform tricks, or even set up puzzles around your apartment. Most places won’t charge a pet deposit for these species, even if they run free. The downside is their intense need for interactions and stimulation. These may be low cost pets, but they are not low effort.
Bearded dragons are becoming increasingly popular pets, though they are still classed as somewhat exotic. Here’s why:
- Long lifespans
- Produce little smell
- Relatively tidy
The downside is they require specialist habitats, equipment, and feed in order to be happy and healthy. They also display affection and connection with their owners in a way that is less recognizable.
That’s especially true with people who are used to having traditional pets. As they stay within their habitats most of the time, they present little, if any, danger to the rental property.
Snakes, like bearded dragons, are clean and low-risk pets. They are unlikely to cause any damage to the property, first and foremost because they rarely leave their habitats.
The downsides of keeping a snake are, of course, the niche nature of their habitat and feed. That’s in addition to their unusual methods of communicating with owners.
You won’t find them forming strong emotional bonds or displaying real affection. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t bond with your snake.
Birds can be good pets for those in rental properties. However, it does depend on the type of property and the species of bird in question. Parrots may be noisier than finches, after all.
Birds tend to have longer lifespans than most common pets, like rodents and lizards. In fact, some breeds of parrot can live 60 years or more. Their cages and feed range in size and price, too. However, many birds are very communicative and intelligent, making them excellent companions.
Do You Have To Pay A Pet Deposit For An Apartment?
Most apartments will require a pet deposit. Even small dogs require deposits, though it may be less expensive. For example, a Yorkshire terrier cannot do the same amount of damage that a golden retriever can. As such, $25 may be more reasonable as a deposit than $100.
However, most apartments do not charge a pet deposit for small, caged animals. Gerbils and snakes, for example, will rarely leave their cages. This gives them very little opportunity to cause damage.
Parrots, on the other hand, inhabit a grey area. While they do live in cages and are rather small pets, they can be more destructive. You may let the bird out of its cage, where its talons or beak could harm walls or carpeting.
A parrot can also generate a considerable amount of noise, which your landlord or property manager could want to limit. To help compensate, they may charge a pet deposit similar to a small dog.
However, this is entirely at the property manager’s discretion. You should check with them before signing a lease.
Pet Deposits, Pet Fees, and Pet Rent
You may run into different terms when shopping for pet-friendly apartments. While it’s easy to see them as interchangeable, that’s not always the case.
A pet deposit may either be a part of or separate from the usual security deposit. In most cases, this is refundable. It does, of course, depend on whether or not damage has been done to the property during your stay.
Pet fees, by contrast, are one-time payments which are non-refundable. These will be separate from the usual security deposit. They will be listed as fees when you read your lease agreement.
Think of them as the ‘admission price’ for your pet. They’re designed to offset the necessary cleaning and hair removal which may be incurred when you leave.
Pet rent, however, is something different altogether. This is far more common in the USA than in the UK and Europe. Pet rent may be charged instead of a pet deposit or pet fees. The amount charged can vary from property to property. It may increase or decrease, depending on the type and number of pets that you have.
No Pets Without Written Consent?
It’s wise to have written consent for any pets you keep. Generally, your lease will say if pets are acceptable, and if they are, what clauses are attached to that. If your lease does not say this, it’s wise to ask your property manager to pencil it in. Otherwise, they could later protest about your pet and require you to navigate legal water about it. There are cases that inhabit a grey area, however.
First and foremost, if you need a service animal, it may be a legal requirement for your landlord to allow this. This is especially true if you are already residing in the property in question.
However, it’s always best to check where you stand, legally, before you approach your landlord.
What if a doctor recommends that you get a pet for emotional support or mental health reasons? Then you may be able to negotiate with your landlord or modify the lease.
In cases like this, you should ask what kind of pets they would feel more comfortable with having in their property. For example, they may be completely set against a large dog. However, they might be happy to allow you to keep rabbits or small, caged rodents.
How to Convince Your Landlord to Let You Get a Pet
What if you’re already living in a rental apartment and you want to get a pet? Then the person you need to talk to is your landlord. Convincing them to let you bring an animal into the property could be easier than you think.
Check the Lease
You should consider your lease. Check whether or not pets of a specific kind, or any kind, are excluded explicitly.
If your lease does not state that you are not allowed pets, then your landlord has no reasonable grounds to prevent you from getting one. Nonetheless, it is good practice to at least run the idea of getting a pet by your landlord.
Keeping your relationship with them intact and positive is all-important. That’s especially true if you want to renew your lease at the end of the term.
Ask For An Exception
If your lease specifically excludes pet ownership, you can ask your landlord to make an exception. It’s best to do this when you are negotiating a new lease at the end of your term. If you want to do this mid-term, you should get any exceptions written down and signed. This will protect you from any last minute changes of heart.
Ask In Advance
The best way to convince your landlord to let you have a pet is through is communication and courtesy. You never want to don’t spring it on them. Instead, set a time when you can talk.
Be open to their thoughts and feelings on the matter. Yes, you’re the one getting the pet. However, should anything happen to the property, they will have to fix it. Make it clear that you are willing to compromise if they are.
Your landlord is most likely to have concerns about property damage, pet hair, and the smells that come with having a pet. As such, you will probably find them less willing to accept dogs or cats into their property. Small, caged pets like lizards, rodents, and rabbits may be better for them. If all else fails, you can offer to pay a pet deposit.
What Happens if I Sneak a Pet Into My Apartment?
It’s not recommended to bring a pet into your rental property without consulting your landlord. The most serious consequence is that your landlord could bring eviction proceedings. After all, you may have breached your tenancy agreement.
A more likely outcome is that they will demand you remove the pet from your home. If they do this, your only options will be:
- Take the fight to court
You may win this case. However, it will certainly sour relations between you and your landlord going forward. Of course, it is far preferable that you discuss the pet you wish to have before you bring it into the property. If you do this, a reasonable landlord is more likely to allow it.
Furthermore, you will have far more stringent legal protections on your side. It is, after all, your right to ask your landlord to allow you to keep a companion animal (within reason).