Pets can be a very divisive subject in new apartments, especially between roommates! On one hand, you now have freedom to take care of an animal in your space. On the other hand, roommates don’t want to be stuck taking care of their roommate’s pet all the time! Here are some tips for handling a roommate’s pet without taking on too much responsibility, or losing your mind!
Set clear expectations with your roommate
If your roommate is interested in a pet, ask them to talk it over with you first. They can also reference some info from our bloggers here and here to help make their decision. Once they make their decision to bring a pet into your apartment (and have cleared the pet with your landlord!), have a quick talk with them to establish your role, if any, in caring for the pet.
For more attention-requiring pets like dogs and cats, decide together if you will take on responsibility to let them out of their crate/your roommate’s room if you’re home without them, if you will take them outside or clean a litterbox, if you will feed them… the answers to all of these may be a huge “NO” from you, but be sure to make it clear to your roommate before they bring in the pet.
Here, you want to avoid having your roommate think that they’re getting a shared pet!
Establish fair rules for fees
Often in apartments, bringing in a pet means additional fees, whether it’s a larger security deposit or additional “pet rent” each month. Ensure that your roommate is prepared to assume responsibility for paying all of the pet rent and/or additional deposits. You may also consider reading through your lease to understand their policy on pet damage; if your roommate’s pet tears up carpet or leaves messes, your portion of the security deposit may be at risk. Talk to your roommate on how that will be handled, and add it to your lease if possible.
Offer to help only if you’re really willing
Remember, it’s your roommate’s pet! If you made it clear that you didn’t want to share responsibility, don’t share it! They will quickly learn to take care of their own animal, as it can be a huge responsibility. By communicating about this early, you can be on the same page about pet care and ensure the pet has a good experience… and that you do too!