First Category - Landlord Doesn't Care
Neither do they really care about you, nor do they care about the quality and condition of the apartment they offer you. All they care about is timely rent payment, and whether the market is hot enough to support this bastard attitude of theirs.
As long as the rent is paid on time, they would not care if a bull moose is living in the apartment with you. When you move out of the apartment, Fido may have destroyed the floor, FiFi may have shed eight pounds of dander, Fergie your roommate's anaconda may be living in the walls.
Landlord doesn't care. The next group of tenants will have to inherit that mess. You will see this first hand when you are the tenant inheriting the mess. The first category of pet friendly apartments is a complete "I don't care" scenario. When quality is no object, then this category is for you.
Hint: apartments in this category can be found by doing a cross-referenced search for Dog Friendly and No Pet Deposit.
Second Category - Landlord Cares via Property Management
Property managers maintain property and manage the tenancy. Some of these managers allow for pets. In this category, you will find that the owners' caring attitude is reflected by the quality of the housing they are offering.
Also in this category you will find the attitude that having a pet is pretty much a luxury. These landlords, via the property manager, will allow you to have a pet if you put down a pet deposit in advance or pay a slightly larger monthly rent. Pet deposits are usually around $500 per pet. Or a pet rental rent increase of usually between $25 and $50 per month occurs.
Breed restrictions usually apply. These are for dobies, pit bulls, rotties and other notorious biters. Some landlords restrict smalls dogs too because though not biters, they are yelping barkers. You won't know this, because you aren't home all day, but trust me---Toto barks...alot!! Mostly because he still has nuts.
Third Category - Landlords Cares But Does Not Charge Fee/Deposit
So this category is occupied by landlords who are personally involved in the operation of their property. In lieu of a rent increase or pet deposit, the landlord "interviews" your animal. Yes, they will interview the animal and/or ask for references from previous landlords. These landlords usually occupy a unit within the building. These are usually 2-4 family buildings.
A rough statistic for pet friendliness is as follows:
For every 100 apartments on the market, 25 will be pet friendly, only 10 of these will accept dogs, and only 1 will be a landlord not asking for a pet deposit. This statistic may be slightly rough, but in my experience its very close.
Dog Friendly apartments
You can live through a firecracker accident and with what's left of your hand count how many dog friendly apartments are available in Boston or Cambridge at any given time. This is not exaggeration. Dog friendliness and Boston/Cambridge Apartments are antithetical.
Small dogs are known to be yelpers. When you are not home, they yelp all day long. Big dogs are known to be biters, if a maintenance man comes to your apartment to fix the sink, a big dog may bite him. Both large and small breeds have toenails and as they plod around the apartment they can scratch up the surfacing and slowly but surely destroy the floor. These last three statements are worst case scenarios that comprise a major reason why you will not find an abundant supply of dog friendly apartments on the market.
And I know what your saying: My dog is good, my dog is well behaved, my dog won't do that! Fact is, its only 1 out of 100 times that you'll be able to present such a case, landlords just won't give you an opportunity to present your reasons or rationale.
Cat Friendly apartments
Birds, Fish and Snakes (a.k.a. Exotic Animals)
Exotic animals often go under the radar. Pet restrictions may apply to them but they are not policed as well as Cat and Dog restrictions are. Birds can cause nuisance complaints if they chirp at odd hours, and they do--be careful on that one. Would suck to be evicted because of your bird.
While fish do not create nuisance issues, Fish Tanks constitute "water filled furniture" and on most leases you will see a clause stating that such furniture must be approved in advance. A fish tank could spill out, destroying the flooring in your apartment and perhaps even the ceiling of the apartment below you.
Snakes, like fish and birds do not get policed very often. Every so often, a snake gets out of its cage. In most cases this is not an issue. I know of one incident however, recently in Cambridge, where a 16-foot anaconda got out of its cage after and tried to attack its owner's roommate. The liability of snakes is obvious.
Regardless the type of pet you have, if you are considering a move in Boston, you will certainly find more places available if you leave your pet behind with friends or relatives. I know this is not an easy decision to make, but you must consider the quality of life you want to have in this city first.
This article is From the How To Find An Apartment In Boston series.
Size, Location, Price - The Three Principle Factors That Will Govern Your Apartment Search
Do it Yourself or Get a Real Estate Agent? - Where to Start Looking for Apartment
Super Agent Man or Super Waste of Your Time? - How to Tell if the RE Agent is Worth the Cost of a Phone Call
Real Estate Agent Fees Explained - An Explanation of No Fee, Half Fee and Full Fee Apartment
Looking for an Apartment With Roommates? - Get Your Ducks In a Row
Cats and Dogs and Snakes - Pet Friendly Apartment Searching
What to Do with Your Car - Off Street vs. On Street Parking in Boston
Boston Rental Market Timing - Know when to Start Looking
Preparing for an Appointment - What You Need on the Day of Showing
Upfront Costs and Lease Addenda - Make Sure Your Lease is Kosher