How to get around breed restrictions when renting

How to get around breed restrictions when renting

A huge percentage of Americans are still renting rather than buying. You could blame economic reasons for this, or perhaps just that for some it might make more sense to rent rather than buy, especially if they might need to move within a few years for their job.

For most people this is no problem, but for pet parents there are unique challenges to renting. On top of often times having a more difficult time finding rentals which accept pets and paying more in the form of pet deposits, there’s also another big problem for dog owners.

Breed restrictions can often times be a nightmare, this is particularly true for any dog that might even resemble a Pitbull, even if they aren’t one! In most cases, this is due to insurance clauses which charge landlords more money on their premiums for dogs which are believed to be more dangerous.

The restricted breeds list often makes it extremely difficult for pet parents with dogs like Pitbulls, German Shepherds, Rottweilers or Dobermans to find suitable housing, even if those dogs are perfectly well behaved.

While this is extremely disheartening, it’s unfortunately not illegal to discriminate against someone for having a dog. Many people would even likely tell you to “just get rid of the dog” if it’s such a problem, but most pet parents are rightly horrified at this suggestion.

Pets are members of our families, and we don’t just get rid of them because it might be more convenient to do so. If you’ve been having issues with breed restrictions in your areas, then here’s some things that you might want to try.

Do you actually know your dog’s breed?

get around dog breed apartment restrictions
A doggy DNA test can prove your dog is not a restricted breed.

First thing’s first. Is your dog being denied because they “look like a Pitbull” or some such non-sense? Many people are denied housing routinely for this reason, and if you have a “mutt” dog it can be hard to know for sure exactly what is in their DNA, making it difficult to dispute these claims.

However, these days we have more options than we did previously. Now you can pick up a canine DNA test for a pretty affordable price tag. These tests will match your dog’s DNA against the company’s data base and tell you more about your dog’s lineage.

When apartment hunting you can present this as evidence that your dog is not a member of a restricted breed to try and sway things in your favor. It’s much harder to argue with documentation, and it could help pet parents who don’t know their dog’s breed to get into a house or apartment.

They also provide some other benefits, including being able to screen your dog for potential health problems, and that’s reason enough to do it. You can get one here.

PS. If you need help choosing the right dog DNA test we’ve done a comparison article to help you out. It explains the differences of Wisdom Panel 3.0 vs 4.0 and the health tests so you can chose the right one.

Rent from an individual instead of a company

how to find a place to rent if you have restricted dogs
Renting from an independent landlord may give you more negotiating power if you’re a great tenant.

While a rental company likely has policies that they won’t budge on, if you rent from an individual then you might be able to talk them into letting you rent there. How? By showing them that you’re a role model tenant.

Being a landlord is a pain, and there’s tons of bad tenants out there. If you’re an exceptional tenant and you can prove it, then your potential new landlord may be more willing to negotiate with you. Provide great past references if you have them, particularly if they can say good things about your pup.

Ask to bring your dog to meet the landlord, and show that they aren’t a scary dog. If your dog has been to any kind of training school where they got a diploma for graduation that might help as well. A dog they know is well trained is much less likely to destroy their property or hurt someone.

If you live in a big city then it may be easier to find a house just outside the city that would be more willing to accept a dog breed often listed as “dangerous”, and rent is normally cheaper too if you’re not opposed to doing a little more driving during your commute.

Create a “doggy resume” for your pup

create a dog resume to help get around breed restrictions
Use a doggy resume to tell future landlords how cool your dog is when trying to negotiate.

If you’re trying to convince a landlord who’s on the fence to rent to you have you considered creating a resume for your dog? You’ve likely filled one out for yourself, but your pup will be living there as well, and a well put together document can help to convince them your pup is a good tenant too.

  • Provide some cute doggy photos

Make sure to put some photos in that make your dog look like a friendly pup. Shots of them playing gently with other animals or people might be a good bet. Or, performing some kind of trick that takes a lot of discipline like balancing a treat on their nose.

  • List the places you’ve lived with your dog before

Have you rented before with your dog? If so, then talk to your old landlord about giving a testimonial about how well behaved your dog is! List their number and tell your new landlord that they can call for confirmation that your pup does not pose a threat and doesn’t destroy property.

  • List personal references from past neighbors

Ask your previous neighbors if they would provide a personal reference for your dog. Anyone who has had to live next to you for a substantial amount of time would be a prime candidate for providing a testimonial to the fact that your dog is not aggressive nor a nuisance animal.

  • List what kind of training they’ve had

Is your dog a certified good boy? If they’ve been to obedience school or any kind of behavioral training that would lend credibility to the fact that they are not a threat make sure to include it. If your dog hasn’t had any such training you might consider having them go through a course.

  • Do you have your own liability insurance?

If landlords in your area are particularly worried about problem dogs then you could also take out personal liability insurance. You can provide this as an added comfort that you would be financially responsible for anything your dog does on their property.

Be careful though, some policies don’t cover restricted breeds unless you live in a state that prohibits this type of activity such as New York.

Can you register as a service or emotional support dog?

getting around breed restrictions when looking for apartments
Registering your dog as a support dog is easier than you think, and it gets around breed restrictions.

Thanks to the fair housing act, landlords are not allowed to discriminate against individuals who have a disability. This includes those who require service dogs.

This allows for people to get around breed restrictions in apartments, because ANY dog can be a service dog. That’s great news for owners of dogs that are often needlessly deemed “dangerous.”

While many people think of service dogs for individuals who are blind, there’s actually tons of conditions which service dogs help with. This can include mobility issues, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD, autism, epilepsy and more.

You can easily send away for a kit that can help you to register your dog, and you’ll get all the documentation that you need. However, you will need a doctor who will “recommend” your dog for this purpose.

The good news is that pretty much everyone has some kind of issue which can be helped by a service dog. If you buy a kit from the company above they’ll send you a sample letter which you can give to your doctor.

Odds are if you explain to them about your situation and that your dog provides emotional support to you, they won’t have a problem signing it. Then you’ll have what you need to go ahead with the registration.

Registering your dog as an emotional support animal also has other benefits. They have greater rights when traveling with you and they can fly in the cabin with you if they provide emotional support for stressful situations like flying.

Here’s some conditions for which you could obtain service dog registration.

Support Dog Conditions

  • Mobility Problems
  • Blindness
  • Deafness
  • Paralysis
  • Diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Epilepsy

  • Autism
  • Depression
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Panic Attacks
  • PTSD
  • Speech Problems
  • Social Anxiety

If you still can’t seem to get around breed restrictions, then you may need to consider trying to purchase a home. There are actually many first time home buyer perks out there that can help if you’re having trouble affording it, including down payment assistance.

Owning a home takes away breed restrictions, and if you plan to live in the same area for the foreseeable future it’s worth talking to a lender about your options.

Hopefully our article on How to get around breed restrictions when renting has been helpful to you, good luck!

Michelle Rei

Michelle is a pet parent turned amateur pet product researcher. After adopting a fur baby with digestive issues caused by bad pet food, she's poured hundreds of hours into research to find the best of the best to help him and other pets live happier and healthier lives.

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