Pets make life better, and there's no doubt that most pet owners agree. But as accurate as this is for pet owners, landlords don't always feel the same way. If you're looking to rent a new home for you and your pet, you might be looking at a higher apartment security deposit than you would otherwise. When it becomes time to leave the apartment, some pet owners worry that they will not get back the security deposit they paid up front. So how do you make sure you'll get your apartment security deposit back?
Keep it Clean
The main thing landlords associate with pet owners is lingering pet odor. If the odor remains after you move out, some (or all!) of your apartment security deposit might disappear while your landlord tries to get rid of the bad smell. But you don't have to get rid of your pet to avoid pet odor.
Instead, work to maintain a higher standard of cleanliness. This means vacuuming weekly, cleaning litter boxes and bird cages frequently, cleaning up spills and depositing waste as quickly as possible. There are lots of products on the market that are explicitly geared towards pet owners; whatever cleaning products you like, use them frequently to avoid accumulating odors.
Pet hair is another common complaint by landlords. Limit this by vacuuming often, and by changing air filters at least once a month. Consider putting an extra filter on ventilation ducts to catch pet hair. Also, install register filters to avoid pet hair getting into the duct system.
Ask for Permission
Sure, you think of your small pet like family, but your landlord doesn't. Many renters make the mistake of not informing their landlord about smaller pets, like cats, rabbits, or caged animals. If a landlord suddenly discovers a secret pet, you risk getting fined, losing your apartment security deposit, or even get evicted. Most landlords will appreciate tenants who are upfront about their pets. Don't forget to do a walk through with the landlord before moving in as well. You don't want to be charged for scratch marks from a previous owner's pet.
Take Responsibility for Your Pet
Mistakes happen, and sometimes a pet will be a pet and scratch or bite something they really shouldn't have. If your pet damages the apartment you live in, don't try to hide the damage from your landlord. Instead, tell the landlord right away, make sure you offer to pay for the damage and get it fixed as soon as possible. This way, there is much less chance of your landlord finding costly damages at the end of your lease and keeping your full apartment security deposit as a result.
Follow the Rules
Ask your landlord if there are specific leashing rules you should follow or pet designated areas on the property that you can use. Knowing the landlord's rules beforehand will make them much easier to follow and avoid risking your apartment security deposit.
Take Care of Your Pet
Some pets are more easily bored than others. It's important to keep in mind that usually only pets that are bored or unsettled gnaw or scratch up doors or carpets, putting apartment security deposits in jeopardy. Make these behaviors less likely by making sure your pet gets enough exercise and that they aren't left alone for hours at a time.
Look for Pet-Friendly Features
Avoid carpeted apartments if you can. If you choose an apartment with carpet, make sure it has a sealed carpet pad that is glued to the floor. If the carpet is stapled to the floor, one pet accident can be enough to soak urine into the carpet pad and cause lingering odor. Sealed wood floors will also lock out pet odors. Even if your pet doesn't usually scratch, once is enough to damage a door and put your apartment security deposit at risk. Consider attaching lucite door panels to wood doors your pet might scratch, using removable adhesive strips.
Having a pet makes your life richer. If you follow the tips above, you'll hopefully be able to keep your apartment security deposit.