Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Pooches: On the State of the Dog-Rental Market

One of the questions we are asked most often is where to find rentals for large dogs (and pit bulls!) in the city.
I was a renter when I first adopted Miss M 8 years ago. At the time I was living in a 3-flat where the owner lived on the top floor. While my lease didn't allow dogs, the landlord didn't like going to the trouble of finding new renters so he decided I could have a dog in my unit.
He wasn't very happy to hear I was interested in a pit bull-type dog, and he said he would need to "interview" her before I could commit to adopting. Luckily, Miss M was able to fly through her interview sans songs. 
When we moved, I used Craigslist to look for dog-friendly rentals. Most of the listings I found were size-restrictive but did not restrict based on breed. Miss M and I were able to find the perfect bachelorette-pad in a Mayberry-esque area of Lincoln Square. We lived in a 7-unit building where nearly everyone had some type of pet, including: an Akita, 3 Labs, and a blind Cocker Spaniel.
We are in the fortunate situation where we have owned our homes for the past 6 years, so it has never been an issue for us, so when people ask I know we really aren't up to date with the rental market.
Though lately it seems like it is just hard to rent overall. We have heard horror stories of rents being increased hundreds of dollars, apartments sold without warning, and apartments renting in a matter of hours. With such rental demand, it seems like the easier choice for landlords is to just choose tenants without pets.

So we are curious to know what's really going on out there.
How tough is the rental market for dogs? And for dogs that might fall under the breed-restricted list?
How did you find your place? And how tough was it?
Are there certain areas or types of buildings that are easier to rent?
Has anyone had success with pet resumes? Or needed to focus on the "mix" part of your dog?
What advice would you have for people looking to rent?

On making living with dogs a positive experience for shared-wall neighbors.
And these secrets. And these answers.
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StoneFox said...

I have a dog friendly apartment with no breed or size restrictions for rent right now, available October 1st! Currently have 2 kitties and a pit type dog there right now. http://chicago.craigslist.org/chc/apa/4637991556.html

I'm a Grown-Up? said...

I just went through the process of trying to find a place so that I could adopt a pit bull. It was a pain! Every place had a weight restriction AND a breed restriction. I went to Chicago Apartment Finders and the agent I worked with basically made it seem like it'd be impossible to find a place. I did eventually find a place because a friend of mine knew of a unit opening in his building, and the owner has a bulldog, so he isn't super strict on pets.

I think the best bet for finding places is through word of mouth, and finding apartments that are owned by individuals rather than companies. I also found that pricier places near the Lake didn't have as many restrictions, and then also Pilsen, Logan Square, and Albany Park/Irving Park had more potential options.

jessieaucoin said...

When we moved out of the city and turned our condo into a rental, we insisted on advertising that we had no breed restrictions. Sadly, we were in such a rush to get the place rented that we had to take the first qualified applicant we got, who isn't a dog owner. Conversely, when looking for our current place (a rental) we found only a handful of landlords even willing to consider renting to us because of our dog's breed. The pattern seemed to be that any apartment in a large building or complex, had breed restrictions, but investment properties or three-flat type buildings were more open to the option.

Unknown said...

Illinois has no breed specific law like some states. It's up to the individual apartment owner whether they allow any pets or pit bulls. Some states won't allow pit bulls in their communities let alone apartments. This is under the assumption that all pit bulls are vicious. The news media will exaggerate this assumption by reporting any dog bite or attack as the work of a pit bull. Makes for a more sensational story. We're retired and looking to move out of state soon. We have to be careful to choose a state that will allow our two senior pitties. Colorado is out. Tennesse is out too. The whole country of Canada will not allow pit bulls. Few airlines will ship pit bulls. The ones that do demand a re-enforced grate. ugh! Somehow this stigma has to be broken. Pitties were called nanny dogs at the beginning of the 20th century. Helen Keller owned pit bulls. We have to all work together.

Emily said...

My neighbor came home to a note on the door saying that big dogs (50 lbs+) were no longer allowed and he had to get rid of his ASAP. Luckily his mom was able to take Lola, but I'm pretty sure it's illegal to change the terms mid-lease, isn't it?

Two French Bulldogs said...

We volunteer for the French a Bulldog Rescue Network. It kills us to see pups given up because the landlord does not want dogs. Ugh
Lily & Edward

Ayla said...

My dog isn't a Cattle dog mix(you would be surprised how offten they show up on the banned breed list) or a American Bulldog mix according to my landlady. Even though the human society listed her as a Cattle dog mix, and I got the DNA Test done on her. She is a Cogi mix to her, because she has big ass ears and is short, so she can pull it off. In the same way she is actually 40 pounds rather then the 30 pound limit listed on my lease. Now, if my landlady ever showed up with a scale or asked for a DNA test, I would be screwed. But I keep my dog is well behaved, she doesn't bark very much and I clean up after her. We are pretty good tenants, we pay rent on time, we don't throw loud parties or cause much of any trouble for her. So she really has no reason not to just leave us be.

My Dog Barry said...

When we rented we didn't have Barry. Then we moved to the West Loop neighborhood of Chicago and our condo building (also rental units) is VERY dog friendly. No breed or size restrictions and it's a rather large building (8 stories). Lots of bully types in this building. I notice in the West Loop many people with pitties and seems very dog friendly, maybe because it's a little more spread out here. I'd say for someone looking in the Chicago area with a bully type try the West Loop Gate area - we live just West of Racine in the area.

Shawspeaking said...

We are in the Richmond VA area now, considering a move in about a year. It worries me that buildings, communities, states and even a whole country, Canada (eegads!) aren't options for us. There is definitely a forum for folks like us that have pittie loved ones and need a new lovely place to live.

Rebelwerewolf said...

I'm in Massachusetts, not Illinois, so the rental market might be slightly different here. I'm currently in a similar situation to Ayla. I live in an apartment complex with both breed and size restrictions. We got Badger as a puppy, and he grew larger than the weight limit, but we still list him on the lease as a 35 lb dog. Mushroom is, on paper, a Lab x Terrier mix. We don't know what either dog "really" is, having never done any DNA tests. We make sure to always have our dogs leashed, pick up after them, and keep them quiet so no one has a reason to complain about them. We've lived in the same place for over 3 years with no issues, and it seems our apartment is pretty lax with the size policy, because we've seen several dogs larger than Badger here. The surprising thing for me is when we looked into buying a condo earlier this year. Many condos around here either don't allow dogs or have size / breed restrictions. It seems to fully be freed of these arbitrary restrictions, one would have to have the money to buy a full-blown single family house.

Two Pitties in the City said...

Comments from Facebook:
Peg Hoodiewearer Aloi Oh man; this is so demoralizing. So many "dog-friendly" listings only want to rent if your dog is 20 lbs or less! Come on...
13 hours ago · Unlike · 5

Anna Julian Anyone looking for a nice, big dog friendly place in Chi should check out my listing...available October 1st! Lived there for 1.5 yrs w/2 kitties and a pit type pup. http://chicago.craigslist.org/chc/apa/4637991556.html

Looking for a super tight pet friendly apartment with East facing views of Lake ... See More
13 hours ago · Unlike · 3 · Remove Preview

Becky Smith It's dang near impossible to rent anything in Indianapolis with a dog that is bigger than 30 lbs! So many dogs on the restricted list. It's ridiculous. I do have to say that at least we don't have a pit bull ban for everyone. Thankful for that at least! #endBSL
12 hours ago · Edited · Unlike · 2

Regan Wood I've been considering a move to New Orleans from Brooklyn and they seem to have way more breed and size restrictions down there than here in NYC. Lots of pit everywhere and landlords are cool here for the most part, so it's stressful to have that added to the mix when thinking about a move.
12 hours ago · Unlike · 1

Two Pitties in the City said...

Nicole Sloan We have found that individual landlords instead of companies are almost always more willing to work with you concerning your dog. When I email potential landlords, I have a careful crafted email that first demonstrates how mature & responsible us humans are (what we do for work, how long we've been there, when my bf was in school I highlighted that I made enough to cover everything). I then talked about my pittie and made sure to highlight that's he housebroken, crate-trained (so he won't be running the place when we're gone for 8 hours), he has never had an incident with a human or other dog, he knows basic commands, is not a dog that barks often (and knows the "quiet" command) and we are willing to purchase our own renters insurance that will cover him. (We have a policy from State Farm that has $1M liability coverage that costs $16/mo.) We also include pictures of our sweet pup and are ALWAYS up front that he's APBT. Landlords don't want to feel like you're already trying to pull one over on them and you're only a prospective tenant.
We also always offer to let the landlord meet our dog, along with any tenants who are already in the building, especially if they have a dog. Because once they meet him, they'll realize he's simply 100lbs. of snuggly squirmy puppy love.
Our landlord (we're in the Chicago SW suburbs) is fantastic and we plan to buy a house in the next 6 months. Once we have a new home, I'll ask Two Pitties to advertise our listing for anyone who may be looking!
12 hours ago · Unlike · 6

Maddie Clark The above is great, I also have two Pits and they are both canine good citizens, this certification has changed many a landlord's mind
12 hours ago · Unlike · 1

AJ Albrecht So this is unrelated, but your home looks beautiful!
11 hours ago · Unlike · 2

Aimey Niner Lapalme My landlord fell in love right away with my 2 pitties when she met them. I was a bit worried that she might have an issue renting to someone with pitbulls, but it turns out she has one too. We lucked out really!

Two Pitties in the City said...

Hannah Phelps Proctor Jamie and I have the added problem of having a dog-aggressive and people fearful dog (or as we say: selective about her dog friends, and slow to warm up). It's easier if your pit bull is friendly, outgoing and sweet as all get out, but when it comes ti...See More
11 hours ago · Unlike · 3

Regan Wood I relate, Hannah. My bully foster is really shy with people and dog selective with strange dogs, so she's not a great candidate for interviews. But there's never been incidents in the building or otherwise because I manager her triggers and she's quiet, crate and housetrained and has never touched a thing in my house, so she's great in an apartment.
10 hours ago · Unlike · 1

Geneviève said...

The rental market in Chicago is tight, but if you have the luxury of time you can usually find a dog-friendly apartment. I've always had better luck with private owners/landlords and smaller management companies then the large ones. My last two apartments have been privately owned 3-flats with no size or breed restrictions, but those listings are usually the hardest to find. Word of mouth, walking around neighborhoods, and vigilant craigslist monitoring is your best bet.

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