Landlords often worry about different issues with tenants, including when tenants try to sneak animals into their property. While support animals are allowed under the Fair Housing Act, other types of animals are not typically allowed by most landlords. Creating a clear pet policy is vital to preventing tenants from sneaking in pets and possibly leaving landlords with a property riddled with pet damage. However, there are always going to be some people that take it upon themselves to sneak in pets despite what the rental or lease agreement states. What can you do as a landlord if you do suspect a tenant is sneaking in a pet?
Unauthorized pets can be a major issues that landlords deal with. There will always be that one tenant that tries to push their luck and will violate a pet policy. During a drive by inspection, or a routine inspection, landlords can quickly discover the tenant has a pet. Sometimes neighboring tenants will complain about the pet to the property management company or landlord. Landlords need to be ready to handle the lease violation and take the right steps to handle the situation. The problem is handling pets and leases can vary by state, so it is best to start working directly with the tenant to try and resolve the situation amicably.
Tenants will already have a bond and connection to the animal, so it is not always the easiest thing to try and get the tenants to send the animal away. However, landlords have to be clear and strict with tenants to make sure they are aware they are violating the policy and they will be fined.
A lease agreement needs to clearly state what the pet policy is, and what the fine is for anyone caught violating the policy. Stick to the lease terms because other tenants will try and break the lease terms if they find out that particular tenant was allowed to keep their pet. A no-pet policy needs to be clearly marked in the lease agreement. Cite this policy when you bring up the situation with the tenant. A lease violation means fines will be assessed.
Provide Ongoing Inspections
One way to prevent tenants from trying to sneak in a pet is to let them know that you will perform routine maintenance and upgrades on the property. If they know you will be coming by monthly to check on the property, they are less likely to try and hide a pet. If a pet is found, send a notice to the tenant, charge them the lease violation fine, and let them know an eviction process will occur if the pet is not removed. Of course, the other option is to change the policy and to include a pet deposit to pay for any pet damage if someone already has snuck in a pet.
Handling an Unauthorized Pet
If you do find out the person has a pet, take pictures. You need to have evidence of the pet, especially if the pet causes damage. From here, simply follow through on the agreement as stated above. Most landlords will provide a timeline as to when the pet needs to be removed, or the tenant can face eviction. There currently is not a statute in Washington DC, to a timeframe for eviction related to a pet violation. In other places, landlords give a tenant 24 hours while others provide 3-7 days. No matter what you decide, you must make sure the information was stated in the original lease.
Keep it Official
It’s easy to want to send out a quick text message, but it pays to follow through with proper legal procedures when it comes to pets. You need to make sure you provide a formal letter to the tenant stating the violation, the fine, and the amount of time in which the tenant will be allowed to have the pet removed or they will face eviction. We recommend using an unauthorized pet lease violation form to assist with this process.
Keyrenter Property Management Washington DC has a clear pet policy in place, and our experts have handled hundreds of cases pertaining to unauthorized pets. Working with a skilled property management company will allow you to prevent people from abusing the contract, and to make sure everyone is fulfilling the rent terms correctly.