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Pets Allowed vs. Pet-Friendly Apartments: What’s The Difference?

Apartment Essentials April 9, 2022

While looking for a new place to live, everyone has different factors they prioritize. Someone wants an apartment with a park nearby, someone needs the most amenities they can get, or maybe someone is looking for an apartment with a great view of the skyline. Would-be residents make lists of apartments or houses depending on the amenities they deem important.

For pet owners, apartment hunting becomes extra tricky since they have to think about not just themselves but their furry or feathery friends as well. Pets allowed and pet-friendly might seem very similar, but there is a difference. If you already live in an apartment or are considering one, talking to the apartment property manager will help you understand if any extra costs apply and what’s allowed or required as documentation. We are about to explore the difference and what it means for your companion.

Basic Difference

When you find an apartment that says “pets allowed,” it means you are allowed to live with your pet. As long as there are no noises or smells bothering neighbors, you choose happens in your apartment since it is your private space. You can have pets in the house, but there might be some rules which we will discuss later.

As for pet-friendly apartments, they go the extra mile and offer special treatments for your pets. Pet-friendly apartments have extra amenities that are just for your pets so your friend can have a pleasant stay as well. Such apartments can have pet daycares, grass fields for pets to go and play, veterinary clinics, playgrounds, and more.

Pet-friendly might seem more appealing as a pet owner who needs a comfortable place to live. But you shouldn’t rush in with your Labrador as soon as you see the sign “Pet-friendly.” Chances are, the property mangers will have some restrictions or rules before allowing your pet to live on the property, let alone enjoy the amenities.

Interview Process

Whether it is a pet-friendly apartment or pets allowed one, both you and your pet will have to go through an interview process. We already mentioned landlords putting in rules for allowing pets on the property.

You can expect to see a personal preference in this scenario. Some homeowners allow cats but not dogs and vice versa. Maybe they have a cat of their own and think that having a dog on the property might lead to chaos. Whatever their reasoning is, you have to be on board with them if you really like the apartment itself and wish to live there with your lovely furry friend.

Here are some common questions that are discussed in interviews with pet owners before renting them an apartment:

How Many Pets Do You Have?

There can be limitations on how many pets are allowed on the property in total.

Is Your Pet Going Under Any Treatment?

Medical issues or treatment procedures can cause uncharacteristic or aggressive behaviors in animals. It helps to know about these things beforehand to avoid unwanted situations.

Which Breed/How Much Do They Weigh? (This Question Is Mostly For Dogs)

Some apartments put restrictions on certain dog breeds. Not all dog breeds are meant for keeping in homes. Every breed is different, and their behavior is different as well. Some pet owners do not realize that their particular dog breed is not meant for keeping in cramped apartments. Also, pet-friendly places have extra amenities for pets, but some services can be restricted depending on the size and weight of your pet.

Have You Ever Had Complaints Regarding Your Pet?

This question helps get an idea about your pet’s behavior and your capability in handling them. If your past records are commendable, the landlords will be more lenient in renting their house to you. If your pet does have some complaints about behavioral issues in the past, the ball will not be in your court anymore.


Pet-friendly communities care more about this particular topic. There can be dog parks or playgrounds in the vicinity where your pets are allowed to roam around off-leash. Landlords can ask for vaccine cards and spay/neuter prescriptions before allowing your full pet access to all their services.

Do you have a medical need for the animal?

Some apartments require a medical documentation for an emotional support or medical support animal.

Get Ready to Pay Something Extra

When you rent an apartment, you have to put down a certain amount as security. If there is any damage done to the property, the repair costs get deducted from that amount. If there are no damages, you get the amount back after your lease is over. A lot of apartments, both pets allowed and pet-friendly ones, have a similar security deposit in place for pets.

Make sure you read the rent and payment section in your lease carefully before signing it. Some landlords put an extra security deposit in place when you have a pet. They apply the same “deducting property damage costs from the deposit” process with the security money. A lot of places ask for an extra fee for your pets. It can be a one-time payment for the duration of your lease, or it can be included in your monthly rent as a small charge. It is basically a fee for allowing your pet on the property.

In pet-friendly locations, it can go both ways. The rent can be higher, and you will be allowed to enjoy all the amenities for your pet without paying anything extra. Or the rent can be just for your apartment, and you will have to pay an extra charge for letting your pet enjoy the facilities they have.

After the interview process is done, make sure you have a written document regarding everything you discussed with the landowner. Check the pet policy provided with your lease agreement before striking a deal.

What to Expect From “Pets Allowed” Places

The interview process for the pets allowed community would definitely be less extensive than a pet-friendly one. The latter one includes exclusive amenities for your pets. The interview process may seem lengthy, but it will be worth it when your Chihuahua keeps yapping at you unless you take it out for a stroll in the dog park.

Pets-allowed communities can also be referred to as “pet-tolerable.” They tolerate that you have pets, but you take full responsibility if anything happens to the property because of the pets. You will face strict rules like a certain number or breed of pets that are allowed, certain areas that are off-limits to pets, zero tolerance for loud barking or yowling, extra fines for not disposing of pet waste properly, and so on.

When Pets Are Not Allowed

You can think that it’s cruel when some homeowners have a “no pets allowed” sign. But they do have their reasons for not allowing any pets on the property. There are no concrete arguments on why some apartment community allows cats but not dogs, or places that have size limitations on the dogs it does allow or does not permit any pets on the grounds at all. Some of the underlying factors can include more insurance coverage needed of the landowner. There is also the potential harm that a pet can bring to a property that will not be insured by a security deposit or just not having to handle complaints from other residents.

Loud barking or yowling, property damage, and disturbances with the neighbors are basically why many landlords are apprehensive about allowing pets. Believe it or not, there are pet owners that allow their pets to unleash hell on the property they live in, which gives a bad name to other animal lovers.

But if you can convince the landlord about your capability at handling your pets, there might be a chance. If you and your pet have a good reputation of being responsible neighbors, you may be able to sway even the landlords with the “no pets allowed” sign.

Which Community is the Best?

The answer should be pretty clear at this point. If you can afford it, then undoubtedly go for a pet-friendly community. You get all these extra perks that will keep your pet happy. The process can seem quite extensive, but in the long run, you and your furry companion will benefit the most. But pet-friendly apartments are pretty hard to come by.

If you cannot find a good pet-friendly community or if you have a tight budget, then you have to consider pets-allowed apartments. It can get a little hard and frustrating to abide by the many strict rules. But at least your pet will be allowed to stay wherever you are.

Pet-friendly communities are most likely to be extravagant. They often come with a gym, parks, playground, pool, pet waste stations, and much more. Consider yourself lucky if you can manage to live in a place like that. It is rare to see communities, even pet-friendly ones, where multiple pets are allowed (fewer restrictions on breeds as well). But avoid taking everything for granted. Do have a word with your landowner before you decide to bring an exotic animal home. There are probably “some” restrictions on getting a pet Cheetah or an Alligator. 

Bottom Line

If you have birds or fish as pets, you will face close to zero hurdles while getting an apartment. But, it can be harder to convince landlords when you own cats or dogs. By showing that you are a responsible pet owner with well-behaved pets, you can probably get the apartment of your choice. Do not be disheartened by a “no pets allowed” sign. It should not hurt to have a word with the landlords before dismissing the property entirely.

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