CHICAGO — Though Chicago is one of the most pet-friendly rental markets in the country, a new ranking says, finding pet restriction information for a building can be tricky.
Jason Feldman, of Related Realty and Chicago Pet Friendly Real Estate, said that finding a condo or apartment that takes your pet should be just as important a factor as the number of bedrooms you need, or your budget.
"We have found that it's an afterthought for many people, of many ages," Feldman said.
According to a CNN Money report, Chicago is the sixth-most pet-friendly rental market in the U.S., with San Francisco ranking No. 1.
That doesn't mean pets don't sometimes wind up in shelters when owners move to a building that won't allow them, though.
Many more places accept cats than dogs, and many small mammals and birds are not regulated, Feldman said.
One of the most common restrictions placed on dogs is weight limits.
Usually, building owners are concerned about damage the dogs could do coming in and out of entryways, Feldman said.
"The weight issues has to do with noise level from them, in terms of walking, and in terms of the potential of damaging the floor in public areas," he said.
But, of course, some of the loudest breeds can be the littlest breeds.
Using weight restrictions is also a way to get around using the term "aggressive breeds."
"There's a huge amount of misconception out there in real estate in terms of the different breeds," Feldman said. Some buildings do outright ban bully breeds, or dogs in the pitbull family.
"I've known some very large dobermans; they were just the sweetest dogs ever," Feldman said.
Tiny dogs can be aggressive, too: "Little dachshunds are biting people's ankles all the time," he said.
One new River North building has a restriction on dogs younger than a year, Feldman said.
"I understand why they're doing it," he said. "That just gets me: How could you discriminate against a puppy? What kind of person are you?"
From discriminating against puppies to having no restrictions on pets at all, the rental and real estate market in Chicago varies.
"When we say pet-friendly, there are very different levels of pet-friendly," he said. "From a business standpoint, buildings are missing out on potential buyers who have money to spend, but can't because they have an aggressive breed."
So which neighborhood is most accomodating to pets, according to the seasoned real estate agent?
Single-family home buyers don't need to worry about pet restrictions, so Feldman doesn't see a lot of clients for Chicago Pet Friendly Real Estate on the Northwest Side.
Feldman said newer buildings are the most accommodating of pets. High rises in the South Loop, Downtown, River North and along the lake front on the North Side are usually pretty pet-friendly, the real estate agent said.
But still, owners have a lot more to consider even if their dogs are accomodated by a building, such as how much space their dog needs, how long it will take to get outside if they are in a high-rise, if the dog will be using the patio as a bathroom space, and how close the nearest dog park is.
Always find out what a building's pet restrictions are before checking out a unit, Feldman advised. Then owners don't have to feel heartbroken when they learn a building they've fallen in love with won't take their dog.
"It's a ugly maze out there for people, for sure," he said.
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