Moving and Renting with Your Pet

By Sania Tran

Finding a new home can bring a lot of joy, but also a lot of difficulties if you are a pet parent. According to a study conducted by the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy, or NCPPSP, the number one reason for pet surrender is moving.

This is a sad reality, but the simple fact is that many people don’t know how to go about moving, renting, and living with pets. To help you prepare for this big event in your life, we put together a step-by-step guide for finding a pet-friendly apartment and moving in a stress-free way.

Step 1. Learn about local pet regulations. The first thing you should figure out before moving is the list of local pet laws in the area where you are relocating. The following are the most common regulations you’ll come across during your search:

Pet Licenses, Vaccinations, Microchipping: If you are moving to a new city, you will need to relicense your pet. Having an unlicensed pet could result in fines. Luckily, license fees are not too high and you only have to renew it once a year. An unaltered dog license fee in the City of Santa Clarita is $60. If your dog is spayed or neutered, the fee is only $20. You may find additional fee information and license applications online. The Los Angeles County Code also requires you to have your pet properly vaccinated and microchipped. Otherwise, you’ll be subject to administrative citations.

Pet Policy: Restrictions and Additional Costs: California law states that landlords have the right to prohibit pets on their properties. Landlords may choose to impose pet restrictions based on breed, size, number of pets, etc. However, they can’t require tenants to declaw or devocalize their pets or discriminate against pets that are not declawed or not devocalized. Your landlord may charge you pet rent and pet deposit, but the sum of all deposits cannot exceed two months of rent and must be refundable. Note: service animals are not subject to pet restrictions, pet rent or pet deposit.
Step 2. Find a pet-friendly rental. Finding a pet-friendly rental could be difficult. Even though landlords are becoming increasingly more accepting of pets, there are so many nuances. Here are some options for you:

Plan Ahead. Finding a perfect place takes time, especially if you have a furry friend. Allow as much time as possible to search for a place where you and your pet will be happy and comfortable.
Use Your Network. Ask people for recommendations on social media and encourage your friends and family to share your post.
Use Specialized Websites. Some of the online rental search platforms allow you to search pet-friendly listings. Try Apartment List, where 80 percent of the listings are pet-friendly and have detailed pet policies provided by properties. That way, if a property only allows one cat and you have a pair of poodles, you won’t have to waste your time calling that apartment building.
Choose a Place that Embraces Pet Ownership as a Lifestyle. There are buildings that just allow pets and there are ones that LOVE them and provide nice amenities to make your life and your pet’s life easier. There are quite a few of them in Santa Clarita! For example, Townhomes at Lost Canyon, Monterra Ridge and Promenade at Town Center Apartments all have onsite dog parks where your dog can roam around with other pups and make new friends. If you are a busy professional who has little time to spare, this can be a life-changer.
Have Your Paperwork Ready. Even if a property is pet-friendly, they don’t have to allow your Fido or Fufu. Talking with the prospective landlord about your pet is pretty much like a job interview. Prepare a pet resume and don’t forget to include your proof of up-to-date vaccinations and renter’s pet insurance. If your pet is spayed or neutered, it will increase the chance of your application being accepted.

Step 3. Prepare for the big move. Once all the paperwork is done, it’s time to get ready for the move. If you think that moving is hard for you, put yourself in your pet’s shoes – they don’t know what’s happening and are completely dependent on you. There are a few things you can do to make the move as smooth as it can be:

Get new I.D. tags ahead of time. Once you get the new address, update your pet’s I.D. tags. With all the unpacking you might forget about it.
Consider Using a Pet Moving Company. If the process of moving with your pet deems too challenging, seek out a trustworthy pet-moving company that will do everything for you, especially if you are moving to another part of the country. Keep in mind that these services can be pretty expensive.
Get Some Practice Trips Under your Belt and Prepare a Crate. If you’ve never traveled with your pet and are planning to move across the country, it might be a good idea to take your pet on a few short trips to figure out potential issues that might come up. Some pets get car sick and some absolutely can’t stand their crates. Both can be remedied with medication and a good comfortable crate. You can also secure your pet using specialized seat belts.
Plan your Route. If the Trip is Long, Plan for the Stops. Find dog parks along the way, book pet-friendly hotels/motels. Both you and your dog will need to rest and stretch your legs.
Pack Some Travel Essentials. Pet food, crate, pee pad, poop bags and toys – you’ll need it all to minimize the stress you and your pet will experience during the ride.
Air Travel. Sounds like a good idea but, in fact, it is not. Not only is it pricey, it can also be more stressful and outright dangerous for some pets.

Even though these tips are not exhaustive, they should be enough to make your transition smoother. The most important thing is to try to keep calm and plan ahead, and in no time you will be cuddling on the couch in your new place with your furry friend.

Sania Tran is a marketing specialist and contributing author at Apartment List. She is passionate about animal welfare issues and is a part of Apartment List’s Pet-Friendly Living Initiative designed to help people with pets live their best lives together.