In a bid to retain or attract tenants as the pandemic continues, many landlords in New York City are changing their rules about pets to be more lenient. This is good news for renters who have dogs that weigh over 50 pounds—often the maximum weight limit in many buildings.
Companies that previously denied pets are in some cases allowing them—where one pet was acceptable now you might be able to have two.
TF Cornerstone, a rental company with buildings throughout the city, is among those adjusting its policies. The firm will now allow tenants to have two dogs rather than one, and increase the maximum weight limit from 50 to 75 pounds. Pitbulls and rottweilers are still prohibited breeds.
Bettina Equities, which manages over 2,000 apartments in Manhattan, generally did not allow tenants to have pets before the pandemic but Rose Caiola, the company's principal says, with so many people working from home they are changing their pet policy to allow dogs up to 30 pounds.
"Pets are our unconditional buddies that love us always, so we are definitely allowing that—you have to," she says.
[Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article was published in October 2015. It is presented here with updated information for January 2021.]
If you’re looking to move into a rental with a large dog, here’s how to find an apartment that will welcome you and your furry friend.
Get your paperwork in order
If you’re searching for a rental that will accommodate your pet needs, it’s worth having references for your dog. This can include a letter from a previous landlord or former neighbors attesting to your dog’s good behavior. Make sure, too, that you have a letter from the dog’s vet showing its vaccinations and care are up to date.
“Anything you can do to position yourself in a better spot to get an exception made can help you,” says Gary Malin, chief operating officer at The Corcoran Group. He points out liabilities are often a concern for landlords so it’s important to present your dog in the best way possible.
Pet paperwork isn’t the only information to get organized. Armen Stevens, an agent at Warburg Realty, points out the more qualified you are for the rental, the more willing the landlord will be to take a chance on the pets.
It’s a good idea to use a broker
If you have very specific needs, you’d be well advised to use the expertise of a broker to find your rental. The good news here is that due to the sluggish rental market, landlords are, in many cases, paying the broker fee.
Malin says it’s always important to be transparent with your broker about what you are looking for.
“Brokers that work with buildings and owners know what sort of leeway, if any, they will have,” Malin says. The broker will also have experience communicating with a landlord and asking them whether they might consider exceptions to their pet policy.
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Know your dog
When you’re looking at apartments, know your dog’s needs. For example, if your dog barks at unexpected noises, make sure you’re not taking on an apartment near the elevator. Likewise, consider whether you want to be on the top floor of a walk-up if your dog is elderly.
If you’re certain your dog will make a good impression Malin says it might even be worth offering to bring the dog to the building to meet residents. Stevens says sending in a cute picture of your pet won’t hurt.
Start with pet-friendly buildings
Seeking out pet-friendly buildings will be your best starting point if you have a dog that exceeds 50 pounds. “It is usually fairly easy to find out which larger landlords allow them and those that don't to start to narrow down your search,” says Michael J. Franco, a broker with Compass.
Malin points out you’re more likely to find a landlord who can make a weight exception if they are already open to considering pets. “When you work with buildings like that, you will have more luck,” he says.
Even if you find the apartment you want but the pet policy isn’t working in your favor, it’s always worth asking if the landlord will make an exception.
Consider condo and co-op rentals
Searching for rentals in condos and co-ops can be a solution for pet owners. Franco says this is because individual owners can usually make their own decisions about whether to allow a dog or not, assuming the condo or co-op building doesn't have restrictions.
A note on pet fees
Bear in mind that your security deposit is capped at one month’s rent and is not affected by pet ownership, so if you are moving into a pet-friendly apartment with your cat or dog, you can’t be asked to pay any more than one month’s rent. In more competitive times, landlords are able to hike the rent from $50 to $200 a month if you have a pet, but the current downturn means this is no longer a priority for them.
“Owners want to do whatever they can to secure tenants for their properties, knowing that the vacancy rate is really high and it is going to stay that way for some time,” Malin says.
Earlier versions of this article contained reporting and writing by Lucy Cohen Blatter.