How To Handle Tenants With Un-authorized Pets
December 4, 2022
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Handling Tenants With Un-authorized Pets
If you rent to pet owners, then a pet policy is a key part of your lease agreement.
A well-made pet policy protects the property, complies with insurance, and makes rules crystal clear for your tenants.
And, if you don’t rent to pet owners, you won’t have to worry about a pet policy.
However, whether you allow pets or not, you may find yourself with an unauthorized pet on your property at some point.
These unauthorized pets are often found during inspections or as you’re driving by the property and notice something amiss.
You must be prepared to deal with this situation.
In this article, we’re going to talk about how to handle tenants with unauthorized pets.
Your Pet Policy
Your lease agreement should clearly detail your pet policy and what happens in the event of an unauthorized pet lease violation.
If you have a no-pets policy, be clear about the fact that pets are not permitted under any circumstances and if a tenant brings one onto the property, it will be considered a breach of contract. Additionally, let them know if you plan to issue warnings first or if fines will be assessed upon the discovery of these pets.
Prior to your tenants move-in date, give them notice that you will schedule quarterly maintenance visits to test smoke alarms, check appliances, replace filters, etc. If they’re aware that you plan to visit the property every so often, they’ll be less likely to try to keep an animal on the premises under your nose.
The key is to follow through on your lease terms. Don’t let an emotional tenant sway you or make you change your mind. They agreed to your terms and should abide by your pet policy. If you find a pet that shouldn’t be on the property, send the notice, collect the fine, and consider evicting the tenant, if necessary.
Discovering the Pet
What should you do when you first find out an unauthorized pet is on your property? Getting photographic evidence is the first step, if possible. So, if you discover the pet during an inspection. Let your tenant know you’re going to take the picture and then collect the evidence.
Next, send your tenant an official notice detailing the lease violation and how quickly you expect the tenant to get rid of the pet. This expectation should follow any applicable state laws and the details in your lease agreement. In some instances, you can limit it to 24 hours, but some states may allow for three to seven days to take care of the situation. And notify your tenant that if they don’t remove the pet during the allotted time, then you will move forward with an eviction. We know how serious this sounds, but this situation isn’t one to take lightly. They purposely violated the lease agreement, and you need to make sure they understand the severity of that.
Lastly, notify your tenant of any fines they incurred due to the lease violation, and remind your tenant that they’re liable for any damage the unauthorized pet may have caused.
It’s important to mention that the scenario and reasoning for the pet’s appearance are irrelevant. Even if your tenant is temporarily taking care of their parents’ dog while the couple travels overseas, it’s still a violation of the lease agreement. You can’t make exceptions for situations like this one.
Give Official Notice
It is best to adhere to formal procedures when dealing with a lease violation. While you could text or call your tenant to talk to them about the pet that was found, using an unauthorized pet lease violation form is always advisable, especially if things end up in court. Furthermore, official notices are more likely to be taken seriously by all parties involved.
There are official forms online for landlords and property managers that clearly let the tenant know you’re aware an unauthorized pet has been living on the property. Furthermore, these forms state that the pet must be removed at once and failure to do so could result in eviction in addition to court and attorney fees.
Other Scenarios Involving Unauthorized Pets
Even if you allow pets on your property, that doesn’t mean a tenant can get one at any time without notifying you. Furthermore, tenants must abide by weight or breed restrictions if you have any. And tenants must always register the pet with you and pay applicable fees if you choose to charge those.
If a tenant doesn’t follow your terms and abide by your rules, then the pet is unauthorized. A pet policy isn’t an open-door policy for tenants to adopt any pet whenever they feel like it.
Be sure to review your lease with your tenant and see if they have any questions. Also, you may want to outline the process that would be necessary if your tenant decides to get a new pet mid-lease.
When your tenant brings an unauthorized pet onto your property, it can create a difficult situation. The key is to stick to your pet policy and follow through on your terms. The goal isn’t to punish your tenant or escalate the circumstances unnecessarily. You simply need to follow your lease terms, be as professional as possible, keep clear documentation, and communicate with authority.
If you follow the tips in this article, you’ll handle the process well.