9 Tips for Renting with a Pit Bull


I was lucky when I fell in love with Boxers. At that point in my life, I already owned my own house, and didn’t need to worry about a landlord with a misconception about Boxers or big dogs. If you are someone who loves pit bulls, you may already be aware of the fact that in some places, it can be hard to find housing that accepts your dog.

If you are a homeowner, it’s a little easier – the only thing holding you back then would be any local laws or HOA regulations about breeds. But for the millions of people who rent, this article is full of nine tips to help you find housing with your pit bull – even when the landlord is convinced that pit bulls are a dangerous breed to be avoided. (Here are some fun facts about pit bulls that bust a lot of the common myths about these dogs.)

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1. Get Letters of Recommendation

Let’s say you found a home that allows big dogs, but the landlord mentions “no aggressive breeds”. In some cases, landlords will even outright say “No pit bulls”, along with other breeds that have a bad reputation, like Chow dogs, Rottweiler dogs, and so on. In this case, you don’t necessarily need to rule this place out without even talking to the landlord. Instead, consider gathering some letters of recommendation from previous landlords, any care givers that your dog has seen (like a kennel or a groomer), neighbors you’ve lived near, or any trainers that you’ve worked with, regarding your dog’s behavior.

These letters should just point out that they know your dog to be well-trained, and they know you to be a responsible pet owner. Letters from former landlords can be especially important. If they can, their letter could include notes about the house being in good repair after you left, and so on.

2. Bring Your Dog to Meet the Landlord

If your potential landlord hasn’t outright said “No pit bulls”, but seems hesitant, one thing you may want to consider is having the landlord meet your dog. Now, this is probably only a good idea if your dog is very calm, very well-trained, and knows how to behave around strangers. If there’s a chance your dog might make a bad impression out of excitement, maybe skip this tip.

But if you know that your dog will sit still on a leash, greet a stranger politely with you there, and keep his cool, why not? Consider meeting in a neutral place, like the yard outside the new rental, or a nearby park. Be sure to schedule this with the landlord – don’t just show up with your dog. This could make them feel very uncomfortable if they aren’t a dog person.

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3. Create a Pet Resume or Informational Portfolio

If you aren’t able to meet with the landlord and introduce them to your dog, here’s a fun idea to try. Why not make your dog a resume? Type up a few facts, like your dog’s name, age, favorite snack, and favorite form of exercise. Be sure to include information about how your dog is cared for when you’re away from the home at work – do they stay in a crate? Do you have a pet sitter? Do they go to daycare? Then add some facts about pit bulls from trusted sources, like the AKC or the ASPCA. You can find some great information from the ASPCA about pit bull behavior, and a definitive answer to the question “Are pit bulls mean?”, right over here.

Don’t make this too long. A few skimmable bullet points and some photos of your dog that make him look very lovable are all you need. This is a good way to show a landlord that you understand his concerns, and have carefully considered your choice to adopt a pit bull. Grab a few studies on pit bull behavior to add to the resume while you’re at it. Here’s some great information on pit bull aggression testing done by the American Temperament Testing Society, which helps dispel the notion that pit bulls are any more aggressive than any other breed of dog.

4. Consider Getting Renter’s Insurance

There are types of renter’s insurance that cover damage to a property done by your pet. If your landlord is still very unsure about allowing your pit bull, offer to get coverage to take care of any issues that your dog may leave behind. In many cases, knowing that the financial risk is a lot less is all the landlord needs to allow your pet.

Renter’s insurance also covers your possessions in many other situations, so it’s just nice to have anyway. Some options include State Farm, Farmers Insurance Group, and Nationwide Insurance Company. However, be aware that some local insurance agencies may discriminate against breeds known to be high energy, such as pit bulls.

Renting with Pit Bull

5. Be Prepared to Pay a Pet Deposit

Most dog owners who rent know that they’ll probably have to pay a pet deposit. It’s just another expense involved with being a pet owner, right up there with plenty of quality food and some good chew toys to save your shoes. But when it comes to owning a dog that has so many people on edge, you may need to be willing to offer up a bit extra on this front. If the landlord is still very unsure, offer to pay more on the pet deposit. An additional security deposit covers any damage that your dog may do in your time in the home. Just the act of being willing to part with more money shows that you are serious about easing the landlord’s mind, and may make you stand out as a great potential renter.

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6. Consider Negotiations and Addendums

In some cases, you may want to be willing to negotiate the terms of the lease with the landlord. For example, offer to try out a temporary lease for three months, to see if your dog is an issue for any reason. Or offer to sign an addendum to the lease that clarifies exactly what is expected of you as the dog owner. The landlord may want to specify that your dog can’t be left in the yard alone, or can’t be off-leash even if you are in the yard, or something like that. If this is the only home that you’ve found that suits all your other needs and your budget, you may want to consider these addendums. You can find other ways to exercise your dog, like going to a dog park, and in the meantime, at least you’ve found a roof to put over both your heads.

7. Be Honest and Take Your Time

It’s really important that you are honest with any potential landlord you meet. Don’t try to sneak your dog into the place after signing the lease, and don’t try to claim that your dog is some other breed. It’s true that many breeds are mistaken for pit bulls all the time. But unless you have proof, like a statement from your vet, or registration papers, that your dog is some other breed, chances are the landlord won’t believe you anyway.

Trying to sneak a dog into a place where they are not allowed is a surefire path to being evicted, and possibly even taken to court over the rest of the rent payment for the duration of your lease. The best course of action if you can’t find a place that allows your pit bull is to be as patient as you can, and hunt for the right home. Being secure in a home that is welcoming to both of you is worth the wait.

8. Know the Laws in Your Area

If you are reading all of these tips and thinking to yourself, “Are pit bulls illegal? What’s the big deal?” then you definitely need to pay attention to this tip.

I recently posted an article here on the blog about pit bull bans around the country, and if you read it, you’ll know that pit bull bans are more complicated than you think. There are some places in the country where they are banned, and the ban is heavily enforced. There are other places where they are banned, but certain situations are excluded. And finally, there are places where there are no breed-specific laws. To make it even more confusing, we’re not just talking about states. Individual counties, cities, and even neighborhoods (if run by an HOA) can have their own laws about pit bulls. And what’s more, while a property owner can’t tell you it’s against the law to have a pit bull, they do have every right to ban this breed from their property, no matter where you live.

In order to know what you’re up against if you are moving to a new area, it’s a good idea to find out if there are laws banning pit bulls, or if the area is particularly unfriendly towards this breed. Consider calling the local vets, shelters, or grooming locations to ask them about any potential laws you should know about.

9. Go Through Any Local Advocacy Groups

Are pit bulls mean? Not if you ask the Humane Society, or other advocacy groups! There are several groups that actually run websites with lists of pit bull-friendly housing in every state, so you can get an idea of where to start. Here’s one great example. If you are struggling to find housing in an area that accepts your pit bull, consider calling up the Humane Society chapter in the local area. They may know of housing options that are close enough to the area for you to live with your dog nearby where you wanted to move. They may also know of some loopholes you can take advantage of, or have examples of precedence you can use to get your pit bull accepted in an area. These can be excellent sources of help and information, so be sure to contact them and find out what they know.

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The Final Word

Keep in mind that one of the most expensive things for a landlord is the process between one tenant moving out, and another moving in. Most landlords will want to keep a good tenant as long as they can – so if you are someone who tends to stay put in your rental home, be sure to mention it! Talk about how long you stayed in your last few places, and give the landlord an idea of how many years you’re interested in staying in this place.

Also, while you are searching for a good place to rent with your pit bull, be sure you are putting extra time and attention on your dog’s training. Because pit bull-friendly housing can be so hard to find, the competition is stiff. You have to stand out as a fantastic dog owner, and a very responsible tenant, and your dog has to stand out as the cream of the crop.

If you are having a lot of trouble finding anything, one trick is to make sure you are talking to property owners of single-family homes, not owners or managers of apartments, condos, or duplexes. When there are other people renting in the same building, the landlord may worry about injury claims.

If all else fails, and you absolutely must move into a place where you can’t have your pit bull, consider trying to find a temporary solution. The local Humane Society may be able to help you find a temporary foster home for your dog while you search for better housing – or ask a trusted family member to pet sit for a few months until you can find something that accepts you both.

Renting with a pit bull is not impossible, but it does take patience to find the right home. With these tips, renting with your pit bull should be easier than ever.

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