Pets In Your Apartment
by Ruby Bayan
If you're planning to move to a new apartment home, and you're moving with your dogs, cats, parakeets, or lizards, you will save yourself some aggravation by making sure your pets will be welcome to live with you in the community.
Some apartment complexes specify in their ads that pets are accepted (but to call regarding pet policies); some are silent about it. So, in your initial inquiries, touch on the community's rules regarding pets. To give you an idea on what you need to ask, let's explore some of the issues you will need clarification on.
Are pets allowed?
While you're apartment hunting, you will discover that some apartment complexes, especially brand new communities, high rise apartment buildings, and those in densely populated cities, do not accept animals within their premises. "We just don't. Sorry!" is the answer you will likely receive if you ask why -- the same answer you will get from communities that don't allow boats, trailers, RVs, and commercial vehicles.
Most college suites or dormitory type apartment homes don't allow pets for the simple reason that with mostly students sharing living areas, animals will tend to do more harm than good. Pet noise, mess-ups, and possible allergic reactions, do not exactly fit in college community living.
Some apartments, however, do not totally ban pets, but restrict to "cats only".
If an apartment complex does allow pets to live with their residents, there will surely be rules on the size of the animals.
In general, apartments only accept pets up to 30 lbs. when full grown. That means that only birds, cats, small-breed dogs and other relatively small animals can stay in the premises. Some apartments are more lenient, extending the privilege to keep bigger pets. They usually specify this in their brochures with come-ons like, "Large pets welcome".
If the apartment community allows pets of a specific size, they also usually have a rule on the number of pets a resident can have in the suite.
Some apartments allow only one pet (usually under 20 lbs.), but most communities allow a maximum of two. A few allow as many as four animals. The number often depends on the size or type of apartment dwellings; complexes composed of mostly moderately-sized one to two bedroom units, and those with limited open ground area, usually don't allow residents to maintain more than two pets.
This is an important consideration when you inquire about pet policies. Different apartment complexes will have different rates for pet residents.
Before you move into an apartment home, the manager will usually ask you to pay a month's advance rent, a security deposit, additional fees for roommates in excess of a couple, and a gate deposit (for gated communities). In addition to all these, if you are moving in with pets (or later decide to own one), the manager will require a pet deposit to go with the pet addendum to the lease contract.
Some apartments charge a deposit of $200 to $400 for up to a pair of pets weighing less than 30 lbs. each, and as much as $500 to $1000 for pets weighing more. As a rule, part of the pet deposit is non-refundable. This is, therefore, a major move-in expense that you will need to include in your budget.
What are the pet policies?
Every apartment community that allows pets enforce specific pet rules and regulations.
For example, a dog that has to be let out of the apartment unit, for whatever reason, should be on a leash all the time; there could be designated areas in the periphery for walking the dogs; "pooper scoopers" may be required, too. Some apartment communities impose fines, or downright terminate lease contracts, for violation of pet policies.
Furthermore, residents are advised to put their pets in enclosures when maintenance activities (like repairs, and check-ups) have to be done inside the apartment units. Owners have to take the animals to pet centers or kennels when pest control activities are scheduled. And it goes without saying that they should ensure that their pets are properly inoculated as required by State laws.
Any pet amenities?
You may be fortunate enough to find apartment communities that are totally pet-friendly. Aside from allowing large pets, they even provide pet-sitting and veterinary services, and sponsor community activities focused on pets.
In short, if you're one who considers pets integral members of the family, keep them at the top of your agenda when hunting for a new apartment home. As you check out the amenities you prefer to have in your prospective new community, remember to ask first if the place also caters to your fine feathered, furred, or horned friends.
[First published at New2USA.com, 2000]