Can I change a lease to "no dogs" on an existing tenant?

4 Replies

Well, among the many problems with my nightmare tenants that came with the purchase of a 4U is they got a dog without asking me. Unfortunately the seller did not give me copies of their lease agreement, I don't know why, but around here often there's no written lease and this is my 3rd purchase and I have no other excuse besides blaming my attorney. Never again. On the other hand I've been a landlord 17 years and never had a problem with a tenant I picked. My normal lease says dogs must have landlord permission. I've never given it yet.

Anyway, I'm going to give them a Notice to Quit to terminate the month to month and give them a new lease with all the unpleasantness I can under the NJ Anti-eviction laws (they require lease renewals and limit rent increases to "not unconscionable"). Can I force a lease change that says "no dogs" on someone with a dog?

Does anyone agree with this opinion, which implies I could even evict them now unless they could show a lease that specifically allows pets:

[quote]If your lease does not state you can have animals in the property you can't. Leases cover what you can do, not the thousands of things you can not. There is no way around it, you have violated the lease and his legal rights by bringing an animal into his property without his consent.[/quote]

It sounds like the biggest issue is establishing a written lease.

If they can't show a lease that gives them the ability to have a dog, it's hard to see how they could have that choice without your consent.

Can they have furniture? Is it specified in the lease? How about a microwave? A blender?

I sympathize with your nightmare tenant situation, but that last paragraph is absurd. People get to do any of the normal sorts of things that people do in their residences, unless the lease forbids them.

You really need some advice from a local landlord association. In many places you cannot just change the terms or amenities in a month-to-month lease agreement, written or verbal. Rent controlled areas can be especially difficult in this regard. Does JC have any rent control?

You may have to terminate the tenancy if you want to get rid of a paying tenant with a dog. So find out what the requirements are for changing an existing lease agreement, and also for noticing and terminating the current tenant.

First advice, seek the counsel of an attorney. They should know better about situations without a lease. Sounds like a good plan, if a more pleasant approach didn't work beforehand.

From what I know here in California, if the tenant is on a month-to-month lease, you can change any of the terms with a 30 day notice to change terms of lease, properly served of course. Since you don't know if there is a lease, terminating any existing lease then putting them on a new one seems logical. And in that process, maybe they'll decide to move out... fingers crossed

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