NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Tenants with pets can really find themselves in the doghouse when it comes to finding apartments, but here's a look at five U.S. markets that property-listing site Trulia.com says are best in show when it comes to animal acceptance.
"Pet owners tend to have fewer options when it comes to renting, because fewer rentals allow pets," says economist Ralph McLaughlin of Trulia, which analyzed millions of listings to see which cities' landlords are most willing to accept tail-wagging "tenants."
Trulia found that just 23% of all listings in America's 25 most-populous cities explicitly mention allowing one or more type of pet.
That includes 20% that find cats purr-fectly acceptable, as well as 18% willing to throw small dogs a bone and let them move in. But tenants who prefer to run with the big dogs should know that just 4% of ads say large pooches are OK.
Trulia also found wide variations of pet-acceptance levels between cities. For instance, 49% of rental ads from Portland, Ore., say animals are allowed vs. 8% in Houston.
McLaughlin says the most pet-friendly communities Trulia found are all in the West, which he suspects stems from the region's mild winters (at least in most of the "winning" cities). He thinks the kinder climate makes pet ownership more popular among lots of locals, including plenty of landlords.
Most cities that lead the pack are also famous for having generally permissive cultures, which McLaughlin believes "plays a role" in acceptance of pets.
But surprisingly, many winning communities also have some of America's tightest rental markets. For instance, San Francisco made the top-five list despite having the nation's highest median big-city rents.
Krista Maloney of the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says the Bay Area's hot housing market makes the community "kind of mixed" when it comes to animal acceptance.
"On one hand, San Francisco is really, really pet friendly — there are more dogs here than kids," she says. "But housing is so competitive that if a landlord has to choose between someone who has a pet and someone who doesn't, they'll often choose the [latter]."
Read on to check out the cities that Trulia found are top dog for pet-friendliness.
The communities below all have the highest average rankings in eight categories that the firm analyzed, from how many advertised rentals allow different types of pets to how much landlords charge in extra pet rent, deposits or non-refundable fees. Trulia also gave extra credit to metro areas that U.S. Census figures show have high per-capita levels of pet shops, groomers, veterinarians and other animal-oriented services.
All figures reflect rentals advertised on Trulia between Jan. 1, 2013, and April 15, 2015.
Fifth-best city for renters with pets: Portland, Ore.
Portland definitely pampers its pets.
Landlords in the famously tolerant city are fairly permissive when it comes to animals, ranking No. 2 among major metro areas for the share of advertised rentals that expressly OK cats. The Rose City also places third for listings that mention allowing small dogs and 10th for approval of big pooches.
Portland also ranks fifth for pet-related businesses, with one animal-oriented establishment for every 955 households. (The big-city average is just one for every 1,327 residences.)
On the downside, local landlords demand the seventh-highest average extra rent for pets — $10.14 a month, although that's still below the $28.90 average that Trulia found among major U.S. cities.
You'll also pay the ninth-highest average for pet deposits ($247.42 vs. the $222.70 national norm) and non-refundable pet fees. Those cost $183.62 on average, although that's still less than the $268.18 that's typical among major cities.
Fourth-best U.S. city for renters with pets: Oakland, Calif.
Oakland gets plenty of As when it comes to pet-friendliness.
Landlords in San Francisco's twin city charge the third-lowest average monthly pet rent ($1.09), as well as the ninth-smallest non-refundable pet fee (typically just $16.67). Oakland also offers the sixth-highest rate of pet-oriented local businesses, hosting one such vendor for every 978 households.
In fact, the only real category where Oakland rolls over and plays dead involves how many rental ads explicitly OK big dogs. The region comes in a tail-drooping 17th place for that.
Third-best U.S. city for renters with pets: Denver
Your pet will feel like it's a mile high if you move it to Denver.
That's because Colorado's most-populous metro area places within the top 10 in half of the categories Trulia analyzed.
The Mile High City trails only Dallas for the highest proportion of listings that specifically allow small dogs. It also comes in fourth for the share of ads that endorse cats and sixth for those that OK big ones.
Denver also ranks seventh for pet-related establishments, with one such place for every 997 households.
Unfortunately, the community really bites when it comes to how much extra money landlords charge renters with pets.
Tenants can expect to pay $13.35 a month on average in extra rent. That's the fourth-highest level among big U.S. cities.
Second-best U.S. city for renters with pets: Seattle
Move to the Emerald City and you'll never have to worry about someone coming to get you and your little dog, too.
After all, Seattle comes in fifth place for the percentage of listings that mention allowing cats or small dogs, and also ranks third for the ratio of pet-oriented businesses to people (one for every 891 households). Landlords also charge the fourth-lowest pet rent (typically just $1.34 a month) and 10th-tamest pet fees ($31.95 on average).
That said, the typical Seattle pet deposit is nothing to bark about. Plan on ponying up $266.12 on average — the fourth-highest level in any major American city.
Best U.S. city for renters with pets: San Francisco
If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to put some flowers on your hare.
You'll want to show it off, because Trulia found that the City by the Bay embraces pets more than any other major U.S. community does.
McLaughlin says Frisco leaves the competition in the dog pound primarily by having a huge ratio of pet-oriented businesses to people. The Bay Area has one animal-related establishment for every 848 households, trailing only San Diego for the No. 1 spot among big cities.
You won't have to sit up and beg Frisco's landlords to accept your pet, either.
Trulia found that San Francisco has the fifth-largest percentage of rental ads that mention allowing big dogs, as well as the seventh-best share of units that OK cats.
Landlords are also paw-some when it comes to keeping the extra pet charges low. Trulia found that the metro area has the fifth-smallest big-city pet rents ($1.48 on average), as well as the sixth-lowest pet deposit (typically $57.29) and the eighth-tiniest average non-refundable fees ($7.14).
— Written by Jerry Kronenberg for MainStreet