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Pets Welcome

Tips for Renting with Pets

As anyone in Nantucket knows, finding rental housing here, this year, this season, is nigh on impossible. Finding rental housing with pets . . . well, you might as well just buy your boat tickets now.  

But if you really don’t want to leave, and you do have furry friends who are actually part of your family, there are ways to make it easier to nab that one year-round rental that 45 others are also vying for. And if you are a landlord who hesitates to rent to someone with a pet, there is some info here to help you choose a pet-loving tenant, too.

First, for you renters. In short, be responsible. Know that your behavior and actions as a tenant will reflect on every pet-loving tenant who comes after you:

  • Be completely honest about the number and kinds of pets you have. Don’t say you have one cat when you have four . . . plus a turtle. The truth will come out, causing distrust and possible eviction.  
  • Mention any training your dog has had and if your cat is indoor only. In fact, some experts suggest creating resumes for your pets—highlighting their best features but not ignoring their challenges either. Include a picture, age, breed, size, and it doesn’t hurt if they can do cute tricks!
  • Be sure your pet is neutered and up-to-date on all vaccines, is treated monthly for fleas and ticks, and share this stellar veterinary record with your landlord. Chances are good that if you are responsible with your pet’s health, you are responsible in other areas of your life and will make a good tenant.
  • Offer to make it a condition of your lease that you are responsible for removal of any pet waste, and include a schedule for doing it.
  • Offer to have any carpeting professionally cleaned when you vacate the premises.
  • Offer references from previous landlords to prove that your pet has not caused damage, or if there was damage, you paid to repair it.
  • In Massachusetts, legally, you can’t pay more than one month’s rent security deposit, and it is questionable as to whether a pet fee would be legal, but if you offer to and get the details in writing, you may have an edge over the next apartment seeker.
  • Offer to set up a “meet and greet” so the landlord can meet your pet.
  • Be sure to highlight your non-pet-related attributes as well—steady employment, volunteer work, quiet lifestyle, etc. 
  • Offer to rent month to month until the landlord is convinced of your pet’s good behavior. Then sign a longer lease.
  • When you vacate your rental, go the extra mile when cleaning. The landlord/new tenants should not be able to tell anyone was living there before you, let alone that there were three huskies and a cockatiel in residence.

Landlords, be picky. There ARE wonderful, mature, responsible animal-loving tenants for the taking:

  • Require that any pets be neutered. Many of the troublesome behaviors caused by pets will be minimized or even eliminated once neutered.
  • Ask the tenant to provide proof of vaccinations, a license and vet records. If tenants are responsible with their pets, they are most likely responsible in other areas of their lives, like paying the rent on time.
  • Feel free to rent on a month-to-month basis until you feel comfortable with the pet situation. 
  • Know that when you rent to someone with pets, you are doing no less than potentially keeping an animal out of a shelter, saving a life, and keeping a family together. And that’s something to feel warm and fuzzy about!

Nantucket is a pet paradise. On this tiny island we have four veterinary practices, two pet stores, a wonderful active animal shelter, a feral cat rescue, dog-walkers/groomers/trainers, pet-sitters galore, a dog-wash, and thousands of families with pets. Many of these families are renters. All of them are our neighbors and part of our community. And each deserves a fair shot at finding a home on Nantucket.

A Dog’s Life, Nantucket, explores the many dog (and other animal)-related issues on Nantucket. Stephanie Henke co-founded Nantucket Safe Harbor for Animals and created and manages Nantucket Dog Walk (http://www.nantucketdogwalk.com/Home.html), a website dedicated to the many glorious dog walks on Nantucket.