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Finding Pet Friendly Apartments In Alexandria

"Pet-friendly" apartment buildings in Alexandria are becoming harder for pet-owning renters to find these days as an increasing number of building owners have rolled up the welcome mat to tenants with critters. In Washington, D.C., rental-building owners can afford not to compromise because, like many other major markets, the city's apartment occupancy rate is 98.8 percent.

However, finding a pet-friendly rental is not impossible.

The first thing that Cheryl Summerlin, assistant leasing director for the Seven Springs Village apartments in College Park, Md., advises renters with pets to do is to be up front about being a pet owner.

"If you have a pet, be prepared to disclose that information and inquire about the pet policy in the beginning, so that there are no last-minute surprises on you or us," she said. Having a pet in a complex that does not allow pets could end up with you being evicted. Some apartment managers have also charged closet pet owners with back pet rent payments and pet security deposits. Complexes that allow pets usually charge an average of $350 in nonrefundable pet security deposits and $25 in additional monthly rental fees.

Another thing to remember is that many complexes that welcome pets will want you to provide them with documentation from a veterinarian that your animal is up to date on its shots, licensed and neutered or spayed. Some apartment managers ask for photos of your pet for their files. Sometimes you may be required to bring the animal in so that apartment managers are assured that your pet does not exceed their weight requirements. "When it's a pit bull or a dog over 35 pounds, you've probably eliminated almost 100 percent of my vacancies," said Ronald Martinez, manager of Apartment Search in Tysons Corner, Va. "People who own cats are easier for me to place because about 50 percent of my vacancies do allow cats."

With the demand for apartment rentals far exceeding supply, it is not expected that property owners with no-pet policies will make exceptions to their rules. However, if you find the place of your dreams, but little Fido is not allowed, take a chance and inquire anyway. Some managers say they do bend the rules sometimes, something that they do not want to advertise for fear of attracting pet owners in large numbers. And remember to use RENTNET, where over 40% of the apartments listed accept pets.

Pet owners who are living in apartments can also play a role in increasing the availability of pet-friendly rentals. They are setting the tone as to whether an apartment building continues to be pet-friendly. Advice from property managers:

  • Clean carpets when you move to rid an apartment of animal smells and hair. This is a No. 1 reason many building owners give for not allowing pets.
  • Be considerate of your neighbors, because a few complaints can make a pet-friendly property manager change a community's pet policy.
  • Don't let your cat use the carpet to sharpen its claws and have male pets spayed so they won't feel the need to mark their territory by spraying all over the place; and
  • Neutering and spaying helps to reduce unwanted cat and dog litters running wild around a community.


Written by Gwendolyn Gwenn

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