Renting with Pets


According to the Humane Society of the United States, 63% of American households include pets as part of the family. Some of those families are renters. By allowing pets in rental properties, landlords can increase their pool of potential renters, create a more careful screening of those renters, and gain longer-term and more stable tenants, without losing income.

In Nantucket, it can be almost impossible to find rental housing, let alone a rental that allows pets. But it’s not impossible. If you are a landlord and hesitate to rent to families with pets, or if you are a tenant looking for pet-friendly housing, read on.

For tenants:

  Be completely honest about the number and kinds of pets you have. Don’t say you have one cat when you have four. The truth will come out, causing distrust and possible eviction.

  Mention any training your dog has had and if your cat is indoor only. In fact, some experts suggest creating resumes for your pets—highlighting their best features but not ignoring their challenges either. Include a picture, age, breed, size, and it doesn’t hurt if they can do cute tricks!

Be sure your pet is neutered and up-to-date on all vaccines, is treated monthly for fleas and ticks, and share this stellar veterinary record  with your landlord. Chances are good that if you are responsible with your pet’s health, you are responsible in other areas of your life and will make a good tenant.

Offer to make it a condition of your lease that you are responsible for removal of any pet waste, and include a schedule for doing it.

Offer to have any carpeting professionally cleaned when you vacate the premises.

Offer references from previous landlords to prove that your pet has not caused damage, or if there was damage, you paid to repair it.

Offer to pay a higher monthly rent or larger security deposit to cover any potential property damage.



 Offer to set up a “meet and greet” so the landlord can meet your pet.

 Be sure to highlight your non-pet-related attributes as well—steady employment, volunteer work, quiet lifestyle, etc. 

 Offer to rent month to month until the landlord is convinced of your pet’s good behavior. Then sign a longer lease.

For landlords:

  Ask for references from previous landlords to be sure that the pets have not caused damage, or if they did, the tenant paid to repair it.

  Ask that any pets be neutered. Many of the troublesome behaviors caused by pets will be minimized once neutered.

  Ask the tenant to provide proof of vaccinations, license and vet records. If tenants are responsible with their pets, they are most likely responsible in other areas of their lives.

  If you have any concerns about possible property damage due to pets, ask for a higher monthly rent or larger security deposit.

  Feel free to rent on a month-to-month basis until you feel comfortable with the pet situation. 

For more information:—Go to the ASPCA website for its Model Pet Ownership Policy.—The Humane Society of the United States’ website features an in-depth “Renting With Pets” section for rental managers and pet owners.—Go here to order the Massachusetts SPCA’s booklet for designing a workable pet policy.—for information about rental laws in Massachusetts