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The Bay Area is one of the most pet-friendly areas around, but when it comes time to move with your animals, it doesn’t always feel like that. The signs you’ve been seeing for “Dogs OK!” disappear or the restrictions that landlords impose seem insurmountable. We’ve gathered a few basic tips to make this process as smooth as possible.


PLAN AHEAD TIME-WISE. As much as possible (and sometimes it’s not), start looking early. If you know your lease will be up, or you hate where you live, start looking in advance. Pet-friendly rentals are often picked up quickly, and it’s good to start looking for the right spot earlier rather than later.


KNOW WHAT YOU’RE UP AGAINST. “Pets OK!” is often a little misleading. Some landlords think of “pets” in the narrowest sense of the word. This might be because of insurance policies, previous bad experiences, low expectations, or ignorance. The kinds of things that “Pets OK!” might not include: dogs over 20 pounds, “power breeds” like pit bull type dogs, Rottweilers or shepherds, multiple animals, cats or dogs (one or the other), animals other than cats or dogs, indoor pets, outdoor pets, etc.  This list can seem overwhelming, but you and your pet(s) can find your perfect new home.


PLAN AHEAD STRATEGY-WISE. Once you know what you’re facing, you can prepare to call, email, or meet potential landlords. There are a few things that will already have made your life easier, but if you haven’t done them, this is your excuse to do them:

  • Spay/neuter your pet, and make sure his shots are up-to-date.
  • For dogs, reinforce any basic training like not jumping on people, staying home alone without barking.
  • Reinforce potty training/litter box training.

Now go back to the list of all of the things that landlords might not be prepared to deal with and preempt them. For example, research rental insurance, and provide proof of purchase if you already have it. Explain that your indoor animal has never (if this is true) scratched, dug, clawed, chewed any furniture/walls/floors. If your animal is quiet and doesn’t disturb neighbors, explain this.  If a potential landlord seems on the fence, offer an additional pet deposit. Consider this money in a pet emergency account that you have saved for this occasion: it is worth it to keep your pet with you forever.

If possible, prepare a pet resume (link to, with references to previous landlords, family members, pet sitters, or friends who can vouch for your pet’s good behavior. It is our experience that the presentation of these resumes is as important as the references themselves.

Here’s a list you can print. 10 Tips for Moving With Pets



  • Craigslist  is probably the most comprehensive place to look.
  • Friends, family, other networks. Put the word out: your people will want you and your pets to find the best possible place.
  • Your vet, pet sitter, other animal-people. Ask at the vet or pet stores if you can post a “housing wanted” ad at the front desk.