In Sydney, Australia, couple Kate and Adam struggled to find a rental in their price range. After several rejected applications, they decided to get creative. “We did a separate resume for our dog,” Kate said in an interview with Domain.au. The resume included copies of his vaccination certificate and professional photos. Soon, they had landed a great place for their family. And the doggy resume made all the difference!
Pet resumes have been around for a while, but they’re extra-trendy these days in places with impacted rental markets. Also called “landlord letters,” these personalized pleas can help convince property owners and management companies that you and your dog will make great tenants.
Whether you’re looking for a new place to live, or hoping to convince your current landlord to let you get a pet, a pet resume can make a huge difference! Read on to learn how landlord letters help you and your dog find a home, and and how to write a good one.
It’s tough for dog people to understand why landlords wouldn’t want to allow pets. After all, dogs are family members! But property owners have valid concerns about allowing pets in their units. Dogs can be messy and loud, and almost every landlord has a story about the nightmare tenant whose pet destroyed the floors.
Of course, you’re not that nightmare tenant! Your dog is well-behaved and quiet, and you always clean up after them. But landlords need proof, especially when they have several other applicants for the same place. Think of a landlord letter or pet resume as a job application for your dog. In a concise, info-packed document, you demonstrate why your dog is the right fit for the apartment.
The ideal pet resume also conveys something about the person who wrote it, in addition to the pet. Even the best dog sometimes barks or makes a mess; it’s what their human does that makes them a good tenant.
In major cities where affordable housing is in short supply, it’s often necessary to go the extra step to show your value as a renter. Sure, that may include a credit check and rental references. But for pet people, it also means showing that you’re responsible and reliable. Check out this sample pet resume from a university rental resource site. The “about me” section makes it clear that this person is serious about the responsibility of pet ownership, which likely means they’re serious about other responsibilities, like caring for a rental apartment.
Whether you’re writing a landlord letter or a designing full-color dog bio, be sure to include an “about the human” section.
Renting is serious business, but you can have a bit of fun with your landlord letter. The trick is to be positive. In an interview with the Tacoma News-Tribune, Seattle-based relocation expert Lindsay Ford recommends that you “make it a little cheesy.”
Dogs tug at the heartstrings, and you can use that to your advantage. Or, try writing from your dog’s perspective for a fun and engaging read. Conveying info about your pet in a creative way may convince otherwise pet-averse landlords to take a second look.
However, cheesy doesn’t mean jokey! Professional baseball player Sean Doolittle found that out a few years ago when he and his wife Eireann Dolan were looking for an apartment with their Rhodesian ridgeback, Stella.
A property management company asked them to create a dog resume, so Eirreann wrote one full of funny facts like Stella’s attendance at “DePaw University, Grades K-9,” and her “association with performance-enhancing pugs.” It was hilarious…but not a great approach for most landlords. Sean and Eirreann didn’t get that apartment, though they eventually found a place.
When writing a landlord letter, keep it positive, informative, and sincere. Show off your dog’s best qualities, and make it clear that you’re a responsible renter.
Landlord letters can be very effective. Personally, I favor the pet resume format because it’s straightforward and professional, and easy to update over time. I’ve used the same basic pet resume template (based on this one from the SFPCA) for almost 10 years, and make updates whenever we move cities or apartments.
A basic pet resume should include:
- Your pet’s name and age
- Physical description (including breed and size info)
- Training and behavioral info, including how you exercise your dog; how much noise they make; and any obedience training courses or certifications
- Grooming and health stats, plus proof of vaccinations
- Current photo. You don’t have to hire a pro, but you should choose bright, clear, happy pics!
- List of references including at least one prior landlord and/or roommate. Mine also has my vet, dogsitter, and a friend who can vouch for my pets’ and my character
From there, you can get creative! Some cute references to your dog’s favorite toy, or a description of how she helps keep the apartment clean, can be a nice touch. But like a human resume, a pet resume is best kept to 1-2 pages with clear, concise information.
For more advice on renting with dogs, check out our post How to Help Your Dog Adjust to Apartment Living.