Trying to save money as a renter is hard, especially if you’re attempting to save for a home of your own. However, pets are much needed member of the family whose expenses may hold you back from making a large purchase, such as a home. Pet ownership is quite common: 38.4 percent of households in the United States own at least one dog, and over a quarter of U.S. households include one or more cat.
If you’re renting, the skyrocketing rental prices can also prevent you from saving money as well. The combination of veterinary expenses, the cost of grooming and feeding a pet, as well as the pet’s rent just add to the expensive and exorbitant rental costs. You may also notice that your wage increase may be meagre (if you even get one) whereas your rent increase is steady if not high.
Save Money With Pet Expenses as a Renter
Most pet owners have to pay a $250-$500 deposit just to bring a pet into their rented apartment, condo, or home. In addition to that, each pet usually incurs a “pet rent” of up to 25 percent of the monthly rent as well. Even if your pet is well-behaved and quiet, the rent is usually the same as you’d pay for bringing an untrained puppy into your home.
Additionally, many rental communities establish breed bans against breeds such as pit bulls (American Staffordshires), German Shepherds, Akitas, Doberman Pinschers, Boxers, or even dogs above 25 pounds. When you’re looking to rent or remain in a community with these restrictions, you may end up needing to pay higher rent elsewhere.
Naturally, home ownership can help you save. You’ll have to declare your pet on your home insurance (State Farm is known for insuring homes with pit bulls in some states), but finding that down payment can be especially tough if you’re spending all your extra cash on these pet fees, regular veterinary bills, pet insurance, licensing, and everything else you need to be a responsible pet parent.
If you live alone and have a single-income household, this is even tougher: all of these expenses are on you and your income. How can you alleviate some of this strain?
Is Your Pet Your Emotional Support?
Do you have a common mental health condition such as anxiety or depression? Did you acquire your pet so you would not feel so alone? Do you have a chronic illness that is difficult to handle without the support of you pet? If deemed appropriate by a physician or licensed mental health professional, your pet could be considered your emotional support animal.
The emotional support animal process involves getting a signed letter on the appropriate letterhead from the professional who attests your pet is your emotional support animal. By law, when you have an emotional support animal (commonly known as an ESA), it is illegal for a property to charge you extra rent and fees for having the registered animal. This includes your pet residing on properties that are not normally classified as pet-friendly.
While this is an important privilege and one that should be used by anyone with a legitimate need, there are few other protections and privileges. While airlines used to be required to accommodate ESAs, they are no longer. Your ESA isn’t a service animal and does not need specialized training, which means it can’t get special access to restaurants, grocery stores, and medical facilities to accompany you.
Consider Rent to Own to Save on Pet Expenses and Become a Homeowner
Owning your own home or having a special agreement might also be a solution to the problem of rent-related pet expenses. If your pet expenses, inflation, and rent prices prevent you from saving enough money for a down payment on a home, a rent to own agreement may be an ideal solution.
In rent to own arrangements, landlords get the peace of mind knowing that their property is continually occupied by a tenant that wants to remain in the home. From their perspective, you as the renter have a vested interest in keeping the property well-maintained since you intend to own it. Plus, they’ll never have to deal with a vacated property that does not generate rent.
For the renter, a rent to own agreement provides stability. In this type of arrangement, you’ll pay little or no down payment, only the standard first month, last month type expenses. However, your rent is a bit higher — and that “extra” is in lieu of your down payment. Once the established rental time is up, you then have the option to purchase the home. This way, you can accumulate wealth, pay down credit cards, and mitigate or eliminate other expenses while you are living in the home.
One point of negotiation in your rental contract is the pet fee. As you live there, you have a vested interest in keeping the property in great shape. Just like a homeowner, you may not need to pay additional rent to accommodate your pet in this type of agreement. Make sure to include this in the negotiation. And, as with any housing agreement, make sure you present an ESA letter if your dog is so qualified: you shouldn’t have to pay anything.
Your landlord will be bound to local laws, which may include breed specific legislation (BSL). Even if the landlord would love to rent to you and your dog, the county laws may not allow it. When you’re shopping for a rent to own opportunity, make sure you do your research about BSL if you have a dog commonly on banned breed lists.
As with a standard rental contract, your landlord may require your pet to receive a rabies vaccination and thereafter hold an active license from the county. This isn’t a point worth protesting: it’s the best for public safety, your landlord’s liability, your own renter’s insurance, and the health and safety of your pet.