You accepted a tenant into your rental property, he signs the documents for the rental agreement, which clearly stated “no pets/animals”. Is it a binding agreement? You betcha. After several weeks later, you find out he has dog living with him, and it’s barking up a storm and waking neighbors up at 3AM. So how do you deal with this?
The reality is, this happens more often than we’d like, and sure, it’s a very frustrating and maddening situation to be in, but like any other rental property problems, it is resolvable.
What to do with when you discover unauthorized pets?
The very first thing you need to do in managing tenants with unauthorized pets, is to find out what’s really happening inside your rental property. Maybe having the dog is just temporary, perhaps your tenant is just keeping an eye of it for a family or a friend for just a couple of days. Or perhaps he decided to get his daughter a dog to keep an eye of the house. Or of course our least favorite example is, it’s the tenant’s longtime pet, and they’ve deliberately planned to keep it despite of the agreement, knowing you wouldn’t allow for it. Whatever the excuse may be, the key is to understand the situation better and figure out how to handle with it.
As soon as you understand what is really happening, then it’s time to take action to protect your rental property’s interest. What you need to do first is to write and send a letter to the tenant; indicate that having an unauthorized pet is a violated rental agreement and inquire about his or her means to resolve the issue. Also give them a chance to explain. It could be that your tenant is only keeping the pet for a few days for a friend who is out of town, and its real owner will come and retrieve it after a short stay.
What to consider
If you think the tenant presented a reasonable case to keep the pet and you wish to reconsider, then you should arrange to meet the tenant and his pet. It is important to know exactly what type of pet (or breed or size of dog, if its’ a pet dog) your tenant has. If it’s a reasonable pet to have (say it’s a non-aggressive and quiet pet), and the tenant has shown to be responsible pet owners, and having a pet will not affect your rental property, then maybe it’s not a big issue. Just make sure they are willing to sign another agreement requesting for an increased security deposit to cover any damages the pet may incur.
Whether it’s a small or large pet, animals ARE a risk to have in your rental property, so just understand that they may cause damages that can be very expensive to repair and or replace. Also, consider the zoning of your rental property, as some cities strictly prohibits pets in particular areas.
And yes, some situations may require eviction, which will be terrible for your tenant’s rental history. So that’s why, more often times than not, tenants are willing to respond to your request especially if we’re dealing with an unauthorized pet.