Tenant’s Guide to Pet Screenings

Tips to set your fur baby up for a successful screening process.

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pet screening

Nearly 90% of renters have a pet, according to an Apartments.com survey*, and pets are a priority for renters during their apartment search. Pet screenings are a crucial step in the rental process for pet owners—and they’re becoming an increasingly common prerequisite from landlords and property managers. 

Basically, you can think of pet screenings like a background check, but for your furry friend. 

Let’s dive into the ins and outs of pet screenings, and how you can help set your four-legged roomie up for success.


  • A pet screening gives landlords and property managers peace of mind that your pet is a good fit for apartment living and won’t disturb neighbors or the property.
  • Bring all of the required documents to the pet screening, which often include vaccination records, a detailed pet resume, and references from past landlords or neighbors to vouch for your pet’s behavior.
  • Service animals and emotional support animals are often exempt from the standard pet screening process.

Here’s what we’ll discuss:

What is a pet screening, and is it required?

A pet screening is a process landlords and property managers use to evaluate a pet’s behavior, health, and compatibility with living in the rental property before allowing them to move in.

Pet screenings are not universally required by law, but many landlords and property management companies choose to implement them as part of their rental application process.

What do I need to prepare for a pet screening?

Pet should be up-to-date on vaccinations for a pet screening
Make sure your pet is up-to-date on vaccines for their pet screening

Preparing your dog or cat for a screening is key to a smooth approval process. 

For a successful pet screening, you’ll typically need:

Vaccination records

Pets should be up-to-date on the following vaccinations (and make sure to have a copy of your pet’s medical record for the pet screening):

For dogs:

  • Rabies
  • DHPP (Distemper, Adenovirus/Hepatitis, Parvovirus, Parainfluenza)

You may also want to consider some additional optional vaccinations for your pooch, including: 

For cats:

  • Rabies
  • Feline Calicivirus
  • Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis
  • Panleukopenia

Pet resume

This document should outline basic details about your pet—like their name, age, breed, and weight—in addition to their behavior, training (including basic commands), and any roles as assistance animals.

A well-prepared pet resume not only showcases your pet’s qualifications but also demonstrates your responsibility as a pet owner. By addressing potential concerns, you’ll help property managers see your pet as a welcome addition to their rental property.


References from previous landlords, neighbors, or your veterinarian can help make for a smoother pet screening process. These testimonials should speak to your pet’s behavior, compatibility with other animals and people, and any experiences that highlight their adaptability to living in a rental unit.

A groomed and well-behaved pet

Grooming your pet before a pet screening helps create a positive first impression, showing that your pet is well-cared for and healthy. Refreshing basic commands before a pet screening reinforces good behavior, demonstrating to landlords that your pet is well-behaved and can follow instructions.

What to expect from a pet screening as a renter

Most pet screening processes involve a detailed evaluation by the property manager or landlord to check that your pet complies with the rental property’s pet policies. 

Here’s a breakdown:

1. Complete pet screening application: To gather basic information about your pet— including the type of pet, breed, size, and age. This application may be facilitated through a third-party service or directly by the property management company.

2. Submit additional documents: Such as vaccination records, a pet resume, and possibly a letter from a reference—like a veterinarian—vouching for your pet’s health and behavior. For service animals or emotional support animals, you may need to provide documentation that supports the need for these animals.

3. Pass behavioral assessment: Some property managers might require an in-person meeting with your pet to observe their behavior and verify that they respond well to basic commands and don’t exhibit behavioral issues—like excessive barking or aggression towards strangers or other animals. 

4. Agree to pet policies and charges: This could include size and breed restrictions and pet-related charges such as a pet deposit, pet rent, or pet fee. Understanding these policies upfront can help you budget accordingly and determine if the rental is the right fit for you and your pet.

What are the most common questions landlords ask during a pet screening interview?

Here are some questions you can expect a landlord or property manager to ask during a pet screening interview:

  • How many pets do you have?
  • What type of pet do you have?
  • Is your pet spayed or neutered?
  • Is your pet up-to-date on vaccinations?
  • Has your pet completed any training programs?
  • How do you plan to exercise your pet?
  • How does your pet behave around strangers and other animals?
  • Has your pet ever caused property damage?
  • How do you manage your pet’s noise?
  • Do you have a plan for when you’re not home?
  • Can you provide references from previous landlords or neighbors?
  • Do you have pet insurance?
  • Are there any accommodations your pet needs?

Are service animals and emotional support animals treated differently in pet screenings?

Yes. Service animals typically do not require pet screenings because they are not considered pets under the Fair Housing Act. 

Emotional Support Animals (ESAs), however, may not have the same legal protections and could be subject to pet screenings depending on the landlord’s policies.

To officially notify a landlord or property manager about a service animal or ESA, you typically provide a letter from a healthcare provider stating the necessity of the animal for your health or disability.

Can a landlord deny my pet after a pet screening?

Freshen up on basic commands before a pet screening
Don’t forget to freshen up on basic commands before a pet screening

Yes. Landlords can deny pets based on the results of the pet screening process. 

Pets might fail screening for several reasons, including:

  • Behavioral issues—like signs of aggression or excessive barking.
  • Missing crucial health documentation—like not being up-to-date on required vaccinations
  • Not meeting breed and/or size restrictions 
  • Poor feedback from previous property managers regarding pet’s behavior or property damage

Keep in mind: Decisions must adhere to state laws and fair housing regulations.

How can I appeal a pet screening decision?

If your pet fails a screening, you can appeal the decision by:

  • Providing additional documentation—like more detailed medical history or evidence of behavioral training
  • Securing new references from neighbors or professionals vouching for your pet’s behavior
  • Addressing any specific concerns the property manager or landlord has about your pet’s behavior or health

How does a pet screening differ from a pet policy, pet deposit, and pet rent?

Pet screening, pet policies, pet rent, and pet deposits are all related but distinct aspects of managing pets in rental properties:

Pet screening: This is the process where a landlord evaluates a potential tenant’s pet to determine if it meets certain criteria such as breed, size, behavior, and health. This helps landlords decide if the pet can safely and comfortably live in their property without causing disturbances or damage.

Pet policy: This includes the rules set by a landlord or property management concerning pets in a rental unit. Policies typically outline allowed types, sizes, and numbers of pets, and may include other rules like leash and noise guidelines.

Pet rent: This is an additional monthly charge on top of the regular rent, specifically for keeping a pet in the rental unit. It is intended to cover the potential extra wear and tear a pet might cause in the apartment.

Pet deposit: This is a refundable deposit collected by the landlord before moving in, intended to cover any damages caused by the pet during the tenancy. It is separate from a regular security deposit and is returned if there is no pet-related damage at the end of the lease.

Before we go…

Preparing for a pet screening is an opportunity to make a great first impression with a potential landlord or property manager, and so you and your furry friend can score your dream rental.

Completing a pet screening can be a long and stressful part of the moving process, but you can cover your stuff—and your pet—in a flash at Lemonade.

A basic pet health insurance policy covers the costs of diagnostics (like x-rays or blood tests) and treatments (like surgery or medication) for accidents and illnesses. Plus, there are so many reasons it’s good idea for pet parents to get renters insurance—like if your pet injures another person, or damages their property.

Click below to start your free quote. 



When does a pet screening happen in the rental process? 

Pet screenings usually take place before a tenant is approved to sign a lease, allowing landlords to evaluate a pet’s suitability for their property based on behavior, health, and other criteria.

Is there a legal amount of time that landlords can take for the pet screening process? 

There’s no specific legal timeframe mandated for how long a landlord can take to complete a pet screening process. They can vary depending on individual landlord policies and the specifics of the screening process, but it typically takes about a few days to a week.

Can a landlord charge extra rent for a pet?

Yes, a landlord can charge extra rent for a pet, known as “pet rent,” which is a monthly fee added to the lease to accommodate the presence of a pet. This charge compensates for potential additional wear and tear on the property caused by the pet.


A few quick words, because we <3 our lawyers: This post is general in nature, and any statement in it doesn’t alter the terms, conditions, exclusions, or limitations of policies issued by Lemonade, which differ according to your state of residence. You’re encouraged to discuss your specific circumstances with your own professional advisors. The purpose of this post is merely to provide you with info and insights you can use to make such discussions more productive! Naturally, all comments by, or references to, third parties represent their own views, and Lemonade assumes no responsibility for them. Coverage and discounts may not be available in all states.


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