As a landlord, you have the right to limit what activities a tenant engages in on your property, from restricting loud noises after a certain time in the evening to limiting or completely refusing to allow pets.
Animals can cause substantial damage to a property. Dogs might chew on wood and dig up the floor with their claws, while cats may scratch up surfaces ranging from upholstery to wallpaper for their own amusement. Pets can urinate on the floors, causing hard-to-remove odors and discoloration. What can you do if a tenant violates your lease by bringing an unapproved pet into their unit?
Enforcement usually starts with the delivery of a letter
Whether you see a cat sitting on a window sill in their apartment or a neighbor reports a dog barking from the unit, once you verify the presence of an animal that the tenant doesn’t have permission or contractual rights to have, quick enforcement is essential.
Sending them a letter that cites the lease and advises them of charges and fees associated with retaining the pet, as well as instructions to get rid of the animal, is an important step. That way, you can take further action if your tenant refuses to rehome the animal that violates their lease. In some cases, you may have to initiate eviction proceedings and keep the security deposit to offset the damage caused by an animal.
How tenants sometimes fight back
If you advise your tenant that they must find another home for the animal, it is possible that your tenant may try to abuse the system put in place to protect people with disabilities. They might claim that their destructive dog is an emotional support animal and could go as far as getting a phony certificate to seemingly validate their claim.
If you’re having issues with a tenant who is violating your no-pets policy, it may be wise to consult with an experienced attorney to help ensure that you use all legal options at your disposal.