Enforcing No Pet Clauses

When you decide to become a property manager with tenants, there are multiple lifestyle considerations such as smokers, handicap accessibility, and pets. Many leases will specify stipulations as to whether or not a tenant can have pets. While many times having a no pets clause and enforcing it can be pretty straightforward, there are some circumstances in which it can become a larger issue.

Can You Enforce or Not?

Each situation varies but generally if the lease is straightforward you can enforce the no pet clause at any time. Keep in mind that many states have different laws pertaining to enforcing the no pet rules and you should look into your states regulations. However some situations may not allow you to do so, such as:

  • The no pet clause was verbal and not written in the lease
  • Your tenant needs the animal for health reasons
  • You acknowledge there is a pet on the property and fail to ignore it at the time

Verbal Agreements

As with any stipulation, you will need to get it in writing. If not the game becomes he said, she said. If you do not want pets on the property you will need to specify this within the lease. This is your assurance that in the event the tenant fails to follow the clause, you have a right to request pet removal.

Special Needs Situation

It is debatable as to whether or not you can enforce the no pet clause in special needs cases. Obviously a seeing eye dog is vital to a person’s lifestyle and a landlord would have a hard time enforcing the clause. However there are situations where a pet may still be necessary and can override the no pet clause. Along with pets that are there to assist a tenant with daily living functions, there are also cases where emotional attachment or protection have been considered by the courts in favor of the tenant.

Enforcing After the Fact

A landlord who fails to act upon the no pet clause in a relatively short time frame essentially waives the right to enforce it later. So, if you plan on enforcing the no pet clause, then you will have to act in a timely fashion. While a few days after the fact is not a big deal, months or years will almost always end in the tenant’s favor.

About the author

Crystal Stannard

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