So, your roommate decides she simply must get the puppy she saw at the Humane Society this weekend… or, the guy you’re planning on moving in with just mentioned he has a cat. This doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker, and it also doesn’t mean YOU are getting a pet! Most of us have known someone (or was the person!) who ended up totally responsible for their roommate’s pet…but it doesn’t have to be this way!
The key to not becoming responsible for your roommate’s pet? Great communication between you and your roommate up front.
Before bringing the pet home or moving in with one…
1. Verify your landlord’s pet policy, even if you roommate claims to have already done so.
One of the worst-case scenarios is for your roommate to bring a pet into your apartment that’s not allowed by your landlord! That can lead to hefty fees in addition to your roommate needing to either move out or find a new home for the pet. Be sure you are clear on the landlord’s policy, including breeds that may be banned, even if your roommate says everything is fine. Your apartment is also your responsibility!
2. Confirm (and reconfirm) the split of monthly bills.
You roommate needs to be responsible for any pet fees or pet security deposits and any ongoing pet care costs. On the off-chance that your roommate’s pet needs additional care one month and he is hit with vet bills, your roommate is still financially responsible for their portion of monthly bills! The split of bills should be set in stone before you move in, and this is especially important for roommates that may have unexpected expenses pop up.
3. Review pet care details with your roommate.
Understand your roommate’s schedule, their plan for caring for their pet, and set expectations for how you will (or won’t) play a part in supporting the pet. Be clear on what you are willing to do (i.e. willing to feed the pet when you get home from work, or willing to walk a dog if your roommate is delayed) and what you’re not (could be any of the examples above!).
In this conversation, also decide where the pet should stay in your apartment. Does it stay in your roommate’s room with the door shut? Is the pet in a crate in shared space? Can the pet roam the full apartment? Again, be clear with what you are comfortable with or not. Before you move in is the time to get everything settled, not afterwards when problems are already starting!
Additionally, work out who is responsible for cleaning up after the pet – whether it has an accident in the house, chews or scratches furniture, or breaks landlord’s property. (Hint: This should always be the owner of the pet!!)
4. If living with a pet is a deal-breaker for you, let your roommate know in advance.
Ideally, this should be part of preliminary conversations before you decide to live together in the first place. But, if your future roommate decides to get a pet and you’re not comfortable having one in your apartment, let them know immediately so you both can make new arrangements for housing.
Having a pet in your apartment can be a ton of fun if you’re an animal-lover. Being open with communication before moving in with the pet will ensure a smooth experience for all of you!
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