Renting a Home With Your Cat

The rental market is tough in Alberta right now. It can be a challenge to find a great place to live that doesn’t break the bank, and having a pet doesn’t make it any easier!

Not being able to find pet-friendly housing is one of the top reasons pets are surrendered to rescues. There is a severe shortage of pet-friendly housing, so having a pet adds an additional challenge when finding a place to live, particularly if you’re a renter.

From condo board regulations to restrictions on certain kinds of pets to additional fees, it can be difficult for a pet owner to navigate a competitive rental market. Especially if you’re moving on short notice or have a tight budget, it can sometimes feel impossible to find a home you love that will accept you and your pet.

While it can be difficult to find a place, there are ways to increase your chances of finding a great home for you and your cat. Knowing your rights as a renter and taking steps to show your pet in their best light will give you the best chance of signing a lease that you’re comfortable with and that includes your cat.

Can Landlords Forbid Pets?

The short answer is: yes, they can. In Alberta, landlords can say no to any or all types of pets. They can forbid them entirely or have restrictions on the size, type or amount of pets. When a property is owned by a property management company, a no-pet rule is most often corporate policy is unlikely to change. However, if it’s an individual owner renting out their own property, sometimes they can be convinced to allow a furry friend!

Sway a Potential Landlord

Landlords choose not to allow pets for a variety of reasons. Maybe they have never had pets and don’t like the idea of animals inside the home. Others are nervous about damage to their property, sometimes for good reason: many landlords have had poor experiences with previous pet-owning tenants who didn’t leave the property in good condition.

Some landlords aren’t opposed to pets on principle but would rather rent to someone without them if they have the opportunity. And in a hot rental market when there are many applicants for one home, landlords don’t often need to compromise.

So what’s a cat owner to do? There are a few ways to increase your chances of being considered. The following tips help a potential landlord get to know more about your cat and also show that you’re organized, thorough and responsible.

Create a Pet Resume

Resumes aren’t just for humans! Making a resume for your pet is a great way to introduce him or her to a potential landlord and show that you’re a responsible pet owner.

Blossom’s pet resume – who wouldn’t want to rent to her?

A landlord wants to be sure that your pet won’t damage their property, so if your cat spayed or neutered, litter trained and quiet, this is the place to say it! Like your own resume, advertise your pet’s best attributes and make it quick and easy to read.

Pet References

Let a potential landlord know how much others love your pet! References who can vouch for your cat’s temperament – and for you as a pet owner – can go a long way in getting someone to consider renting to you. Prior landlords, neighbours or pet sitters are all good choices. You can also add your vet as a reference to confirm that your pet is well-loved and looked after.

Pet Fees

Put your money where your mouth is! Offering to pay a non-refundable pet fee at the beginning of your tenancy or adding a small amount to your monthly rent (also known as “pet rent”) can set you apart from the competition. While we love our pets, we have to remember that not everyone does, and that some people are allergic. So giving your landlord some extra cash to clean carpets, ducts and other parts of the property when you leave could make them more likely to accept you and your feline friend.

Note that in Alberta, a landlord can’t charge more than one month’s rent as a security deposit. They can require non-refundable fees or charge more for rent, but they cannot charge an additional pet security deposit on top of one month’s rent.

Other Tips

Limit Your Search

The steps above can definitely increase your chances that you and your cat will be considered for more homes, even for those that say no pets in the description. However, whether you’re moving in a hurry or just don’t want to negotiate, you may want to limit your search to pet-friendly properties.

On popular websites to search for rentals, you can filter to see only pet-friendly properties. While this will shrink your list considerably, it will save you time and energy by only showing you homes that allow or will negotiate on pets. Be sure to read the details of each listing as there may be a limit on size, number or type of pets.

Highlight Your Value

Of course we want to show our pets in their best light, but it’s just as important that you highlight why you’d be a good fit! If there are things about you that make you an ideal tenant like great references, a high credit score or proof of income, be sure to share these in your application.

Start Your Search Early

While it’s not always possible to know your plans months in advance, start your search as soon as you know you need to make a move. Having extra time will reduce stress and give you the best chance of finding something that works for you.

Use Your Network

Sometimes landlords find a tenant through word of mouth before they even have to advertise. Put the word out among friends, family and colleagues that you’re looking for a new place to live. They can let you know if they hear of anything or even recommend you if they know someone looking for a tenant.

Don’t Lose Hope!

It can be disheartening to hear that your cat isn’t welcome in a rental, and even more so to hear it multiple times when you’re already stressing about finding somewhere to live! But don’t despair, and don’t be afraid to keep asking. When you find the right place, it will be worth the time and energy it took to get there.

While no home is perfect, being persistent in your search and not being afraid to ask for lenience will go a long way toward finding a place that will meet your needs – and your cat’s!

Once you’re ready to move, there are steps you can take to minimize your cat’s stress through the moving process. Check out our tips for moving with your cat.