Wednesday, May 30, 2012

City Dog: Renting in the City with Big Dogs (and Pitbulls!)

 Lately we've been getting a lot of questions from people wanting to move into the city. They are curious about the availability of rentals for large dogs, and pitbull-type dogs, and if there seem to be any issues transitioning a dog into a 'city lifestyle'. These are just some experiences we've had, but we would love to hear everyone else's thoughts and experiences.

 Apartment Availability:
 We've found ourselves quite lucky that Chicago is a very dog-friendly city, and most of the limitations seem to be size and weight limits rather than breed restrictions. Miss M and I lived in two apartments before moving into our condo with E. Miss M and I lived in a building with 3 Labs, an Akita and a blind Cocker Spaniel. We've also found several neighborhoods with a large population of pitbull-types dogs; there seem to be a lot in the Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Wicker Park, West Town areas (Chicago people...what else am I missing?)
We have also heard that it's easier to rent from a specific landlord who owns the building than trying to work with a management company.

Interviewing with a Landlord:
Our first landlord was actually hesitant to allow a pitbull-type dog, so Miss M actually had to 'interview'. Ok, it was really just showing up and letting the landlord meet her, but since she can be quite charming and persuasive, that was all she needed to move in. We've heard about people putting together portfolios with letters of reference, (from foster parents, former landlords, trainers), training certificates and photos for landlords who were hesitant to meet a dog. We also read this really great article from Bad Rap with many forward-thinking ways to work with landlords.

Choosing the Right Type of Rental:
We think the hardest thing about moving into the city, especially if your dog is accustomed to their own backyard, is learning to walk in the city. There are so many other dogs and distractions in the city, that it could be difficult for a dog to adjust if they're not used to all the bustle. If you have 2-3 dogs, it would be a good idea to look for a rental with a backyard option until you and the dogs can get accustomed to walking at the same time. It took me a really long time to learn to walk 2 dogs at the same time, and I've never been able to walk our dogs plus a foster. And going on that many walks can be exhausting.

We would love to hear everyone else's experiences about renting with dogs or transitioning into the city. Has it seemed to be an issue?

PS. Ideas on 'paying it forward' to make renting with dogs a positive experience so more landlords will begin accepting dogs.
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27 comments:

Taylor G said...

We live in a condo so our issue was finding insurance that would cover me with a bully breed. My original insurer (MetLife) had a policy to not rent to pit-bull type dogs but I had the condo before the dog so we kept it on the down-low. Once I realized this I looked for new insurers but with the 7 or 8 companies I tried, all had restrictions or requested higher premiums. I eventually went with County Farm which had no problem with any dogs as long as they didn't have a history of aggression. Plus they were a few hundred bucks cheaper. Problem solved. I got a number if anyone is looking.

Heids said...

I lived in my apartment for 2 years before I asked my landlord if I could get a dog, because my lease says technically no animals. They were fine with it and imposed a weight restriction (which he met when I got him...) and now they ask me about him whenever I call about anything related to the apartment. I think they like knowing that there's a dog keeping at least one of their tenants safe. I have a nice outdoor common area, which is great for when either Pork Chop or I don't feel like going for a full-on walk, but he needs a rest stop. I'd love to have more room for him, and a fenced in yard, but we do just great in our city apartment.

Rae said...

This is all such great advice! We moved from the Suburbs to the city of Pittsburgh with our Bull Terrier, Archie about a year and a half ago. He was only a year old, so it wasn't hard to get him used to living the apartment life. However, our hunt for a dog-friendly apartment was difficult! Most places around here will list themselves as dog friendly, but once you look into it, they will only accept pets 25 lbs or less. That can be frustrating! So we started looking at listings on Craigslist that didn't specify whether or not they were pet friendly. From there, we did essentially what the Bad Rap article said- wrote a friendly email about how great our dog was, and briefly mentioned his breed, but tried not to make it a big deal. Luckily, the landlord for the first apartment we lived in had a Doberman, so completely understood how hard it was to be accepted when you have a misunderstood dog- and she let us in, even though it originally was not meant to allow pets!

SherBear said...

Lakeview (especially East Lakeview/Wrigleyville) is also a very pitbull friendly neighborhood! My high rise is probably one of the only ones in the area that allows large dogs in general (most have that 40 lb weight restriction) and we have about 6 pitties in the building. I see a bunch of pitties out and about in the neighborhood and I've never gotten a single negative comment about pit bulls. Just the other week an older women with a little fluffy white dog asked if her and her dog could meet Nala - definetly not the person I was expecting to ask that but I guess it shows that judging a book by the cover can go both ways!! (and the introduction went wonderfully - Nala LOVES small white fluffy dogs)

Two Kitties One Pittie said...

I love this post -- awesome advice. When I lived in east Lakeview, I was in one of those high rises that didn't allow dogs over 40 lbs, so SherBear's feedback is great. As for when I lived in East UKVillage, I lived in a building that originally didn't allow dogs. Our landlord was okay with the two cats, but that was it. However, when I saw Zoe I knew I had to have her. Before speaking with my landlord, I developed a list of points I could make that would convince him to allow us to have her (the fact that we had always paid our rent on time, that we maintained a clean apartment with two animals already, that we had her in obedience training, etc.). I also was not specific about Zoe's breed -- I said she was a terrier mix. In retrospect, that was bad and I would've been honest about that. He didn't ask for further elaboration though. He agreed as long as we paid 25 dollars extra per month.

When we moved into our place in West UK, our landlord didn't specify in the listing about dogs being allowed or not. We just asked outright, and our landlord agreed without asking about Zoe's breed. At the time we moved in, she was only 35 pounds, which helped. Our landlord also makes us pay 75 dollars extra a month for her. It is a hefty price to pay, but since our rent is already cheap for the apartment we have, we were willing to do it. Our landlord seems a little bit afraid of Zoe because she barks at him, but he also likes that she is a good "watch dog" for his property. There are also multiple pit bull type dogs on our street, and I make sure to talk to our neighbors and be considerate about cleaning up after Zoe, etc.

Since we have lived here, someone else moved in with a little papillon who barks all the time. But he's so cute no one complains (and I also think it makes Zoe look well-behaved). !!

Corbin said...

The momma loves all the natural light in your home... so pretty!
-Corbin

Julia said...

We've never had to look for an apartment yet with Lily. We actually got her specifically because our lease allowed for having a dog (no breed or weight restrictions) and we have a little backyard. One of our landlords has a doberman, so it we didn't anticipate any problems with Lily's breed. They also never asked :)

Our downstairs neighbor had a shepherd mix, so when we wanted to adopt Lily we called our landlord who was a little hesitant, but happy to hear about the "2-week foster to adopt" program, ensuring that Lily would be a good fit. Our downstairs neighbor moved out a month later, and now Lily is the only dog in the 3-flat.

We use every opportunity when our landlords are around to show off Lily's "circus tricks" including hi-fives, rolls, and catching a frisbee in mid air. She often gets her gremlin voice going behind the fence, and the tricks were a good way to show our landlord that she's adorable and funny!

Regarding rent - I guess we're super lucky we don't have an extra fee monthly! We put down more towards our security deposit (now totaling 1.5mo), and our landlords had us sign additional paperwork, adding restrictions on legally dangerous dogs. We were happy to have such agreeable landlords!

My Two Pitties said...

I live in a studio apartment in Oakland and I did not actually have my dogs yet when I leased my apartment but I was up front about my intentions to adopt a dog to my landlord. He said no problem and I asked if there were any breed or size restrictions and he said, "Nope, just has to be friendly." It had taken me about a month to find it though after many "no's" and missing out on some high demand apartments. And at some point in my search I made a point to find something with a small yard which I got!

It must be a challenge not having a yard but to me it's just for potty breaks...not exercise. Any dog should be taken out daily and be put in a variety of settings. If you don't have a dog yet consider a lower energy adult!

My advice to others...look for smaller buildings rather than large corporate-style buildings. Those usual have tight insurance plans and thin walls. Even duplexes or 4-plexes can be a great option if you can afford it. Look for dog-friendly neighborhoods like you said. Think about living somewhere you'd feel safe taking your pup(s) out for a walk.

I commend anyone who puts the time, effort and thought into finding a place for them and their dogs. There are SO many people who unload their "beloved" pets of many years because the new place doesn't allow animals:(

Layne said...

We live in Edgewater, and I see lots of pit bull-type dogs around here, too. We were lucky to find a great apartment with a very understanding landlord - the lease has no size/breed restrictions, no pet rent, and no extra deposit. That said, he was a little hesitant when we said we wanted to adopt a pit bull. I told him all about Roxie - how she was good with cats, loved kids, had never shown any signs of aggression while in the shelter, etc. - and he was eventually persuaded. He did want to meet Roxie after we adopted her, but that went fine - she charms everyone she meets! :-)

We're also lucky that we have very pit bull-friendly neighbors. There are five other units in the building, and three of them have dogs (all little dogs - the biggest one is a Puggle). When we first got Roxie, she would cry and/or bark whenever she was left alone, but our neighbors were really patient as we worked on crate training her, and now that's no longer a problem. I guess we've hit the Chicago apartment jackpot - we even have a fenced-in yard and a dog run out back!

cailin7 said...

i'm currently on both sides of the fence, as a landlord and a tenant.

i own a rental property in the suburbs and used to have one on the NW side of chicago. i'm happy to allow any breed without weight restrictions. however, i do not allow cats...in my opinion, they are way more destructive than dogs. (cat-urine soaked carpeting anyone?)

thankfully, as a tenant, i've never had a problem finding suitable dog-friendly housing. my neighborhood is packed with dogs of all breeds...it's a pretty cool place to live.

i would definitely recommend going with an individual landlord rather than a leasing company. a regular person is going to be much more understanding and sympathetic than a corporation who has set rules and regulations in place.

volunteers4paws said...

we had to do dog portfolios when we rented, we added vaccine dates and training letters. Never turned down for an apartment!

Rebelwerewolf said...

This is all great advice! Currently we live in an apartment complex that allows dogs under 35 lbs and has breed restrictions. We got Badger as a puppy, so he was under the weight limit then, and Mushroom is actually only 34 lbs. Badger is listed as a Cocker Spaniel mix, and Mushroom is listed as a Lab mix. We just renewed our lease this year, but we're considering moving afterwards.

Other than finding a place with a weight restriction over 50 lbs (Badger is 43 lbs) and no breed restriction, we really want to find a place without a "pet rent". I'm thinking we will try looking for a house or condo to rent because of the yard. Time to start putting together Badger and Mushroom's portfolios.

SherBear said...

I had to laugh when I read Cailin's comment, my landlord (I rent a condo) had no problem with me adopting a pitbull but had previously told me NO CATS when I was looking into fostering kittens - I'm not much of a cat person per say, but kittens are cute :-). I completely agree that cats are much more destructive to an apartment!!

Kitty+Coco said...

Great tips! We own a home but if we ever move back into an apartment we will use your tips about communicating with the Landlord. Our city is only semi-dog friendly concerning housing. Miss M could win anyone over with her charm.

Kitty+Coco

Mary said...

We are on the other side of the coin now that we are the landlords. We just found great new tenants who want to adopt an adult dog in a few months. I want to be dog-friendly because I know how hard it is. I would love to meet their dog and secretly hope they will adopt a pittie!

Kristin Heidloff said...

I know that I am a little behind on these threads, however, I am looking to move in the next few months and most of the sites online either don't say if they have breed restrictions or the say no pits. I was wondering if anyone could tell me any property names that actually allow pits? Maybe past places people have lived or places you just know do allow pits. I would really appreciate the help! Thanks!

Jorge Ramiro said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jessica Welikson said...

Just like the person above me, I'm also looking for a pitbull friendly apartment! I have two pits, both spayed/neutered. They're friendly with people, dogs of all sizes, and even cats. I've been having trouble finding a place that doesn't have breed restrictions (they don't even meet the weight restrictions most of these buildings seem to have). I'm looking to be as close to SAIC as possible since I'm going to be going to school there in the fall. If anyone could give me property names of places you or someone you know has lived with a pit, I would greatly appreciate it!

Nicole D said...

I believe i've met Roxie... Black & white small ...I have a brown & white big boy King 2 yrs old am staff terrier pit bull... Just got notified that we must move out of our apartment... Across the street from senn highschool because there will be extensive work done which will become hazardous & unlivable conditions... We have until october... My father is handicapped & I'm unemployed... If you hear of any vacancies in the area or out of the area that is affordable & allows large dogs PLEASE EMAIL ME THE INFO @ preciouscarmen89@gmail.com I would really appreciate it...this will be difficult but I'm determined! I cannot part with my baby boy. I cried last night because things have been extremely difficult lately but this situation just topped it off :'( thanx in advance

Nicole D said...

Hello, I'm currently looking for large breed friendly apartments? Must move by october! Please pass along any leads or info you may have from your previous search! I would really appreciate it! Thanx in advance :-)

You can email me @ preciouscarmen89@gmail.com

Nicole D said...

Hello, I'm currently looking for large breed friendly apartments? Must move by october! Please pass along any leads or info you may have from your previous search! I would really appreciate it! Thanx in advance :-)

You can email me @ preciouscarmen89@gmail.com

Nicole D said...

Hello, I'm currently looking for large breed friendly apartments in chicago? currently living on the northside in edgewater... My amstaff terrier pit 2yr male fixed is over 80lbs... Must move by october! Please pass along any leads or info you may have on specific properties who may be willing to allow us to live there! I would really appreciate it! Thanx in advance :-)

You can email me @ preciouscarmen89@gmail.com

marie said...

Hello, my name is amy and I'm looking for large breed friendly apartment aswell. So like the others please pass along any property names that really allow pits and maybe some old places you have lived or old landlords you may know. You can reach me at amyjoe0337@yahoo.com and because I'm extremly desperated 1773 827 1019 please I would love the help.

marie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
marie said...

Hello, my name is amy and I'm looking for large breed friendly apartment aswell. So like the others please pass along any property names that really allow pits and maybe some old places you have lived or old landlords you may know. You can reach me at amyjoe0337@yahoo.com and because I'm extremly desperated 1773 827 1019 please I would love the help.

Derrick Sly said...

I feel like this is just another example of pit bulls being raised correctly. Thank you for what you've done! For heavens sake, there need to be more people like you out there. I need to find a pet friendly apartment so that I can do this too.
http://www.universalproperties.ca/buildings/living

NIKOL ELLIOTT said...

My friend has 2 friendly well behaved pitbulls and she is unable to find an apartment that will allow them!!! I know the original post is very old but I really could use some advice for buildings that are okay with it! Do you have any available? Doesnt matter what area in Chicago - price up to $1500/mth

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