New York City is full of pets, all sorts of pets: dogs, cats, rats, big pets, little pets, therapy pets, loud pets, pets so quiet you’d never know they were there … But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to find an apartment that allows pets, especially if you have a lot of them or particularly exotic ones.
For instance, I had one customer, a couple living in New Jersey, who wanted to move to the city, but the couple owned four dogs and three cats — it was impossible to find them a place. I also recently had a couple that owned a huge snake looking to find a rental apartment. It was a huge challenge, and I couldn’t find any building that would allow them to keep the snake. It was either the apartment or the snake — they didn’t get rid of their reptile.
Of course, some New York City buildings have a strict “no pets allowed” policy. While that might appeal to the pet-averse, it generally brings down the price of the listing as it reduces the chances of finding a prospective renter or buyer. I once had a rental exclusive in a beautiful building on the Upper East Side and lost so many showings because the building didn’t allow any pets.
Although pet-friendly guidelines differ from building to building, a lot of New York landlords do give these furry friends a chance with a few restrictions. Most apartment buildings require you to sign a pet policy as well as put down a large “pet deposit” for any damages the pet may cause. Some landlords and building owners will even require an interview with the pet.
There are ways to put your best paw forward in a wishy-washy pet situation. First and foremost: Be upfront about your four-legged friend. Hiding the fact that you have a pet living with you will only require you to pay expensive fines and risk being evicted.
Instead of hiding it, prove that you’re a responsible pet owner. If you have rented before with your pet, ask your previous landlord for a letter of recommendation. This will show the building owner that your pet is well behaved and you’re a great pet owner.
Most building in New York allow you to have small dogs under 40 pounds, although coops usually interview the dogs during the board meeting to see how the pets behave. (There are even pet trainers and pet certification classes for this purpose.)
And remember that your best friends – the ones who will never cheat, talk back to you or generally be nasty — are animals!