Should you allow pets in your rental properties? Let’s take a minute and talk about what can happen if you do because you need rules and policies in place. Allowing pets in your rental properties opens up your pool of renters but also increases your headaches!
Early one bright and sunny Tuesday morning, one of your tenants calls into the office with a maintenance issue. The kitchen faucet is leaking, could you send someone out right away to fix it.
The tenant won’t be home and Fluffy, his small dog, (which is on the lease) will be locked in a crate in the bedroom, so just come on in.You happen to have a maintenance person in the area who has time to run by to take a look at the problem.
[ctt template=”11″ link=”E229D” via=”no” ]I know many landlords that don’t allow pets and I know for a fact that the tenant usually just hides the pet. [/ctt]
BIG AGGRESSIVE DOG
The next thing you know, your maintenance person calls you. He angry because a large dog came out of nowhere, chased him out of the house and almost bit him!
It then continued to growl and bark at him through the door, all the while frantically scratching at the door. The dog then ran to the picture window, stood on the couch and scratched at the windows.
Maintenance was terrified the animal was going to go through the glass. Of course, the entire maintenance staff feels very strongly that we should not allow pets in any of the rentals!
While you allow pets in your rental properties, this large, aggressive dog is NOT on the lease you have with the tenant and is a not a type of dog you allow in your rentals.
After calming your maintenance person down, you call the tenant. Of course, you get voice mail. So, you leave him a message about what happened and demand that he call you immediately.
Two hours later, the tenant calls and apologizes profusely.
Then he tells you that his son must have dropped his dog off without telling him and he is so sorry, it won’t happen again.
TENANT ESCORT FOR MAINTENANCE
Maintenance won’t go back in the home unless the tenant is there so the tenant agrees to meet maintenance out there the next morning.
Fluffy, the little dog, is indeed there and is very happy to see the new guy. Fluffy even brings a toy for maintenance to throw for him!
The large aggressive dog is nowhere to be found.
Maintenance fixes the kitchen sink and ends up replacing a receptacle cover in the back bedroom as well.
While he was in there, he notices a huge dog kennel, there are two rough holes in the wall by the window, the back of the door is destroyed and the carpet at the door has been chewed back about three feet from the door.
TENANT INTERROGATION BY MAINTENANCE
When questioned, the tenant laughs nervously and says that his son lost his job and his apartment but he LOVES his dog and couldn’t get rid of him.
So, both his son, and his 85 pound large breed dog have been living with him. Maintenance asks the tenant if there is any other damage to the home from the dog.
He reluctantly shows him the front door, the picture window in the family room, the rear exterior screen door and the solid wood back door are all badly damaged and/or destroyed.
And finally, maintenance sees the back yard, which has large holes dug in it. It had also recently rained, so all of the holes were full of water.
The house also has a very strong urine odor to it. There were large stains on the carpet in most of the rooms through the home.
Maintenance documents all of the damage with pictures and takes notes. As he leaves, the tenant is informed that someone from the office will be in touch with him about the dog and the damage.
What do you, as the Landlord, do?
In this case, you did agree to allow a pet in your rental property and it is on the lease. To add more details, this tenant has been in your rental home for five years, always pays great and has never been a problem.
- Currently has 18 months left of his two year lease.
- Is the only person listed on the lease and his dog Fluffy, is the only pet listed on the lease.
- Paid a $300 non-refundable pet fee and pays $25 a month for said pet.
Are you exhausted yet?
Pets, it seems like everyone has them and you severely limit your pool of potential tenants if you do not allow pets in your rental properties.
I personally have 2 dogs and 2 cats so I get it. Pets can be great. But from a landlord perspective, pets are a nightmare.
I know many landlords that don’t allow pets in their rental properties. It is also a fact that the tenant usually just hides the pet. You will need to include a pet clause in your lease, even if you do not allow pets. This agreement needs to explain exactly what will happen should you find out about an illegal pet.
Assuming you decide to allow pets in your rental homes, you need to have a separate pet agreement that spells out everything.
- Number of pets allowed
- Breeds allowed
- Breeds not allowed
- Non-refundable pet fee (not deposit!!!)
- Monthly pet fee
- What happens if they have more pets than allowed, a breed not allowed, damage to the house, etc.
You should go over this pet agreement with every single tenant. Look the tenant in the eyes as you explain it. Impress upon them that this is a legally binding agreement and you will enforce it!
What To Do With Problem Pet Owners
There are many different options available to you and you will have to decide how badly you want to keep this tenant.
Good paying tenants are difficult to find. The first thing I did was call the guy and talk to him.
I wasn’t happy that he had allowed another person to live in the home along with his dog.
This is all covered when the lease is signed. He was required to call the office and add his son and talk to us about the dog. The bottom line is this, I didn’t want to lose a good tenant and the house was already damaged. I told him the large dog had to go.
AND HE LIES!
He had not told the truth about the dog, it had caused significant damage to the house, which I expected him to pay for and it was a huge liability. The way the law is written in Kentucky, the dog belongs to the Tenant and the Landlord!
Fortunately, he agreed that the dog was going to stay with another family member until his son could take him back. The lease was amended and the son was added onto the lease as an occupant only.
I sent maintenance back to the house, after the dog was gone and he wrote up an estimate for repairing all of the damage to the house. The tenant couldn’t afford to pay it all at once, so we broke it down into monthly payments until it was paid off.
His son ended up getting another job and was able to help him pay the balance off faster, which was a good thing since we ended up having to treat the house for a flea infestation on top of everything else!
The son finally moved out and the tenant is still in the home to this day. He wanted to paint the interior so I had maintenance drop off several gallons of paint for him.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”7b963″ via=”no” ]Assuming you decide to allow pets in your rental homes, you need to have a separate pet agreement that spells out everything. [/ctt]
This situation could have ended much differently.
The tenant could have told me to go to **** and said the dog and his son were staying.
He could have refused to pay for any of the damage. He could have just up and moved out, taking his son and the dogs with him.
In this case, I think he wanted an out and was too afraid to put his foot down with his son.
I gave him the excuse to put a stop to the dog tearing up the house.
What are your options as a landlord?
- Work with the tenant
- Send a Cease & Desist
- Evict the tenant
You have seen an example of how to work with a tenant. It doesn’t always work out.
Sending a Cease & Desist
We send a 14 Day Cease & Desist and we send it over to our attorney to make sure we have covered all of our bases.
You are required to list the clause or clauses that the tenant is in violation of, give them however many days that are specified in your lease and tell them that failure to correct the violations in the specified time frame will result in eviction.
Do not try to do this on your own.
I found out the hard way that if you miss something, you have to start over. Because of my mistake, the tenant was allowed to stay in the house for an even longer period of time.
Evict The Tenant
After the time for the Cease & Desist has come and gone, if the tenant has corrected the problem, you don’t have to do anything.
If the tenant hasn’t corrected the problem, then you call your eviction attorney and get a court date.
This starts the eviction process. If you haven’t done your Cease & Desist correctly, you will have to send it again!
Check with an attorney to be sure you have it right!
Eviction laws vary from state to state, so again, check with an attorney.
Hopefully, you will have tenants that you can work with so it doesn’t come to this. But always remember that you do have a way to legally get them out if they won’t work with you.
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