Being a landlord is not always an easy task.
There are things that must be done at times that can be hard, but necessary, for the landlord.
This could include things like increasing rent or handing in eviction notices. In these cases, the tenant can react very poorly, and it becomes a problem for everyone involved.
Another case where the tenant may react poorly is if the landlord sends a notice to tenant to remove pets.
It is very common that the tenant will react negatively to this notice. This is because pets are typically a large part of anyone's life. For this reason, it is important that landlords be careful with how they go about an unauthorized pet lease violation.
In this guide, we will be going over the proper steps involved in sending one of these notices. And, at the end, we will provide your very own template to use with your own tenants.
So, to get started, let's go over what these notices mean and when they should be distributed.
What is a Notice to Tenant to Remove Pets
When a lease agreement is signed, there are certain rules that the tenant is expected to follow. If the tenant doesn't follow these rules, there are almost always some consequences that follow.
One of the very common violations that occur on a rental property is the unauthorized pet violation. This means that the tenant has gone against the rules outlined in the lease agreement and has kept a pet in the property.
When property managers get wind of this, they must do something about the unauthorized pets. The course of action that is taken can depend on a lot of factors, like the kind of pet, the agreed pet policy, local laws, and state laws.
Before sending a notice, however, there are some steps that should be taken by the landlord. Below, we will explain all of the steps to take prior to sending a notice.
Can the Landlord Remove Pets?
The first step that should be taken when determining whether or not to send out a notice to remove pets is to find out if you can legally do so.
There are some cases where the landlord does not have the power to remove the pet, much of which depends on the questions below.
Is there a no-pets policy included in the lease agreement?
The first step in finding out if you can legally remove a pet from a property is to check the lease agreement. Since the lease agreement is the document that both parties have signed, everyone is legally obligated to follow the terms.
The lease should specifically state if the property is a pet-friendly rental or not. If the existing lease has no mention of a pet policy, it can get a little tricky for the landlord. The landlord can still request that the pet be removed but will probably be received with backlash from the tenant due to the absence of a no-pet policy.
However, if there is a specific policy regarding unauthorized pets, the process is much easier. Along with the policy, there should also be some consequences of a tenant having a pet. This is usually a fine followed by removal of the pet but, if the tenant does not remove unauthorized pets, it could lead to an eviction.
If the landlord has found that there is a no-pet policy included in the lease agreement, they can move on to the next step.
Confirming the Unauthorized Pet Lease Violation
Since landlords can find out about unauthorized pets in many ways, like neighbors complaining, it is important that they confirm that it is true. There are some cases that the tenant may have had a pet in the property, but they are not living with the pet.
For example, a tenant may have had a guest over that brought a pet and the neighbors were referring to this occasion. In this case, it is important that you do not accuse the tenant outright of a lease violation and issue a notice to tenant to remove pets. This is important because, if you wrongly accuse the tenant of something, it can lead to trouble in the future.
To encourage the tenant to not house pets on the property, you can let them know that routine inspections are conducted every few months. This way, the tenants know that the landlord will be routinely checking in on the property and will defer from keeping an unauthorized pet.
Find Out if Tenant was Aware of the Policy
Finally, you want to make sure that the tenant is actually aware of the policy against having pets. There is a big difference between someone blatantly going against the terms and someone making an honest mistake.
The case could be that, maybe during the pandemic, the tenant wanted a companion to accompany them while they work, Then, without checking the lease, they got a pet. If this honest mistake is made, the landlord may be able to make a reasonable accommodation for pet owners. However, if it is clear that the tenant knew about the anti-pet policy, reasonable accommodations are less likely to occur.
Another case could be that pets are allowed in the rental unit, but the tenant must pay some sort of pet rent. This could either be in one payment, a pet deposit, or every month, as a monthly pet fee. The way that it is charged depends solely on the lease agreement.
After all of these steps, the landlord should be able to determine whether or not to send the landlord letter to remove the pet. For this, we have provided an entire template that you can use, outlining the importance of every section.
However, before jumping into the writing of the letter, let's go over some restrictions of the no-pet policy.
No-Pet Policy Restrictions
Although it seems like the lease agreement presides over everything, it is actually the local and state landlord-tenant laws that govern mostly everything. Therefore, there are some exceptions laid out by the law to protect certain pet owners.
Below, we will be going over some of these exceptions, as well as how to accommodate these tenants.
Under the Fair Housing Act, tenants are actually allowed to request a certain level of accommodation from the landlord. Part of this includes being able to have a service animal on the property.
However, the characteristics of a service animal are clearly defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Basically, a service animal is any animal that directly benefits any person with a disability. This could be physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or any other disability. They also specify that it must be a dog and that the service it provides must be directly related to the individual's disability.
Emotional Support Animals
Another class of animals that have to be accommodated is emotional support animals. This kind of animal does not perform any kind of task or service. Instead, emotional support animals are supposed to aid people with emotional, neurological, or cognitive disabilities.
These could include things like interrupting destructive behavior, reminding a person to take their medication, or calming a person having a panic attack. In these cases, the landlord is obligated by law to accommodate the tenant.
So, if the tenant does not fit under any of these exceptions, they can receive a notice to remove the pet. Below, we have provided a basic structure for writing this notice.
Writing a Notice to Tenant to Remove Pets
Having an unauthorized pet on the leased premises places the tenant in a breach of contract, meaning that a notice should be sent. If you would like access to your very own notice to tenant to remove pets, just visit DoorLoop's Resources Page.
There, you can find this template as well as various other templates to help you out in the real estate world, like maintenance checklists.