I just read an article about an evicted tenant that left behind 85 dogs. If your tenant has an unauthorized pet at your rental property. You might think you know how to handle it, but you might be doing it the wrong way.
I’m Kyle at TrueDoor Property Management. Fortunately the dogs from that story in Coeur d’alene Idaho were taken in by local shelters. It’s unlikely that a landlord will encounter more than a few unauthorized pets in their rental property, but how do you handle this?
It is difficult to get a pet out of a rental. One time my wife and kids brought home some rabbits. They multiplied. I’m the owner of the home and I can’t get rid of these pets.
The most common reaction by landlords is to get angry and send a negatively charged text to the tenant. I get it, you have a right to be angry, but here’s the best way to resolve the issue.
Anytime the tenant is breaking the lease agreement, it’s best to start by giving the tenant an official notice of lease violation. You can find a free template online, it’s typically called a notice to cure.
Starting the process in an official way makes the interaction more businesslike and less personal. Remember, things can get heated because people are attached to their pets. Yes, they are breaking the lease, but now there’s an attachment to the pet.
After giving the tenant the notice to cure, you have to wait 3 business days. At that point you have the legal right to start an eviction. Yes, I said eviction because that’s the only legal remedy you have as a landlord.
When the tenant breaks any part of the lease ie) doesn’t pay the rent, parks a car on the driveway, or has an unauthorized dog, the law only allows you to solve the problem with an eviction.
Doing an eviction for a pet is very problematic. First of all, evictions are expensive and if successful you end up with a vacant property and no rent coming in. The other problem is that you have to get a favorable judgment in court, which is risky depending on how the judge sees the situation.
So how should you handle this? The best way is to start by giving the tenant the notice to cure to show them you are serious about this issue. Instead of starting an eviction, you then notify the tenant that you will allow them to keep the pet if they pay a pet security deposit, typically about $500 per pet. Be aware that the total amount of security deposit for a tenant cannot exceed two times the rent for an unfurnished property.
You should do an amendment to the lease noting the additional security deposit and the guidelines for pets inside your property.
I realize this solution is probably not what you were hoping.to hear. I understand that it doesn’t feel fair, but it is a reasonable solution.
Another option is to follow through and ask the tenant to remove the pet. This is the ideal solution, but it can be difficult to verify that the tenant has complied. You will need to schedule a property inspection to ensure the pet is gone. You can do this by posting a notice of entry.
The tenant could hide the pet during the inspection. If you are set on getting the pet removed, you can wait until the lease term is over and remove the tenant then. This is better than doing a court eviction for a lease violation.
I’m Kyle at TrueDoor Property Management, providing 5 star results, backed by our guarantees, making you more money with less drama.