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Rental owners’ concerns about allowing pets usually center on risk — both financial and to their property.

What can a tenant do to get his or her pet into a home where the rental owner is hesitant to allow them?

If you’re a pet-owning tenant with good credit, a long-term employment record and a positive rental history, don’t hesitate to point out these attributes. They make you and your pet an attractive tenant.

Credit and rental histories are two of the most important factors a rental owner weighs when searching for a new tenant. When a pet is involved, however, that history is only part of what an owner will consider.

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Tenants with pets have the opportunity to convince a rental owner of how low-risk they and their pet would be.

Perhaps the pet has had obedience training, or a veterinarian can attest to the animal’s good health and vaccination history. Pets that have been spayed or neutered are much less likely to bite or mark the property, both of which are behaviors that can prove costly to landlords.

A willingness to help offset financial risks might also make it easier for a rental owner to agree to allow a pet. That can mean charges such as pet deposits and fees. But tenants might also consider offering to have the carpets cleaned before vacating the unit.

In some cases, a rental owner might charge a larger amount as a security deposit, in lieu of a pet deposit. Unlike a pet deposit or a cleaning deposit, security deposits can be used to cover any amounts owed by the tenant when they move out.

If a pet does live in the unit, the rental agreement should include an addendum stating all of the rules and stipulations for the animal, including any deposits or fees charged to the tenant.

Most of this information goes out the window, however, when a service animal is involved.

Service animals assist people in living with the effects of disabilities. Fair-housing laws state no added costs or burdens may be placed upon the tenant for having a service animal in the rental unit.

When a tenant requests a service animal, the rental owner is permitted to ask the tenant to return a signed verification of disability — essentially a doctor’s note. The form should verify that the tenant has a need for the accommodation or modification, and it must be signed by a medical professional.

Sean Martin is the director of external affairs of the Rental Housing Association of Washington, a not-for-profit association of more than 5,000 landlord members statewide. Rental Resource is the organization’s biweekly column. For more information for landlords or tenants, visit

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