Pet-friendly apartments in San Francisco

The SF rental market can be tough on pet owners. Being prepared, knowing the law & showing empathy will lead you to pet-friendly apartments in…

Editorial Team

By Editorial Team

woman sitting on the floor with her dog taking a picture

As of 2018, 68% of all U.S. households owned pets. Of that amount, 48% were dog owners and 38% were cat owners, according to the American Pet Products Association. Despite this, it seems that some landlords haven’t yet caught up with the news. Therefore, finding pet-friendly apartments in San Francisco is more than challenging.

The rental market here is highly competitive. Rents have skyrocketed due to a large number of well-paid tech workers moving into the city. This has created a landlord’s market, meaning that unfortunately, they can afford to be picky.

If you look at the online listings, it might seem that many landlords offer pet-friendly apartments in San Francisco. When it comes down to it though, landlords will generally choose to go with a tenant without a pet

Of course, San Francisco isn’t the only culprit. Many major metropolitan cities face this same issue. The good news is that it isn’t impossible to find a great apartment for you and your pet. You just have to be informed, determined, and patient. 


Be aware of the law

Learning about the laws governing pets and rentals is crucial while apartment hunting and beyond. At the very least, you won’t be caught off-guard and will be able to counter if the landlord makes erroneous statements.

Landlords can impose conditions

Californian law states that landlords can refuse to accept pets on their properties. Even if they do allow pets, the law permits them to enforce restrictions regarding the size and type of pet.

In other words, a landlord is within their rights to accept a French Bulldog and, simultaneously, say no to a Golden Retriever. Or they can say yes to a cat and no to a dog – even if the dog is the same size as a cat.

golden retriever on the couch being hugged by its owners

A landlord can impose conditions on species, breed, and even weight. They cannot, however, require a pet owner to declaw or devocalize their pet. These procedures are irreversible and require surgery, making it illegal for a landlord to demand them of a tenant.

Your search will, therefore, be a little more complicated as not all pet-friendly apartments in San Francisco will accept your pet.

Landlords have the right to charge more

Landlords can also charge an additional security deposit for your pet, within reason. Thus, they can charge you two months’ rent as a security deposit instead of one. If the apartment is furnished, they can charge up to three months’ worth of rent.

Note that the landlord is not permitted to make the security deposit non-refundable. If your pet has done $100 worth of damage, and you paid a security deposit of $4,000, the landlord must pay you back $3,900.

The law may limit how much a landlord can charge as a security deposit, although they are allowed to charge rent for your pet. For example, a landlord might charge a tenant without a pet $2,000 per month but charge you $2,150 because you have one. 

Clearly, you’ll have to pay for the privilege of living in pet-friendly apartments in San Francisco. 

Landlords can force your pet out

A landlord also has the right to revoke pet permissions. Usually, a landlord who accepts pets has to apply the same rules to everyone. If they accept dogs up to 70 pounds, for example, they can’t say they won’t accept your 55-pound pooch for no reason.

If you prove yourself to be irresponsible, and your dog becomes a nuisance, then the landlord can force you to get rid of him. Not cleaning up after your dog, allowing him to bark incessantly, or letting him scare tenants will be enough for the landlord to force your dog out.

Landlords must allow service animals

The one situation in which a landlord has little or no say, legally speaking, is with service animals. If you get a pet, although your lease says you aren’t allowed one, the landlord can evict you. Alternatively, due to the Federal Fair Housing Act, if the pet is a service animal, that supersedes the landlord’s no-pet policy.

For a pet to be considered a service animal, they need to perform tasks for you every day. They need to help you with an emotional or physical disability that you can prove you have.

service animal guiding his blind user

So, if you are a veteran, the landlord can’t deny your support dog for PTSD. Likewise, a landlord can’t say a seeing-eye dog isn’t allowed to live with a blind person. Once again, though, your condition must be formally diagnosed. You can’t just say that your dog helps lower your stress levels by being cute and cuddly. 

A landlord can refuse to admit a service animal – or revoke permission – only if that animal has poor behavior. So, if he’s been known to bite people, a landlord can say no.

Practice patience

Now that you’re aware of the law, you’re going to have to patiently search for pet-friendly apartments in San Francisco. As mentioned above, landlords will generally choose a tenant without a pet, even if they advertise their property as being pet-friendly. So, if you have a larger dog, you’ll have to be even more patient.

If you’re crunched for time or are just getting frustrated looking for a great, apartment, consider renting from a company like Blueground. As a real estate tech company, Blueground offers stunning, move-in-ready apartments for a minimum of 30 days. Every property is completely furnished, fully equipped, and serviced in some of the best locations in San Francisco. It just became a whole lot easier to find a dream home for you and your furry friend! 

minimal apartment with three large windows letting natural light in, green accent wall behind the grey couch and a small marble coffee table

Be prepared

To increase your chances of finding pet-friendly apartments in San Francisco, and actually getting accepted, think like a landlord. Most of them don’t hate pets. Some of them might even have their own.

The issue is, however, that many of these landlords have had terrible experiences with tenants who were irresponsible pet owners. Many people aren’t as considerate as they need to be. Many more balk at the idea of paying for any damages their pet caused. So it’s natural for landlords to be wary about their investment.

If you provide proof that your pet is well-behaved and you are an accountable owner, you’ll definitely have better luck. For this, testimonials from previous landlords and neighbors are a great option.

Editorial Team

Editorial Team

The Blueground editorial team covers the best things to see, do, and experience in our cities around the world.