Visiting dog in no-pet rental

14 Replies

My SFH was rented with a no pets policy. If truth be told I would have considered a pet from a terrific prospective tenant if asked. This was not the case with current tenants.

Tenant is on a 2 year lease with a reduction in rent for the longer lease. Have had some irritating issues from this couple. Served a 3 day notice for their first official month (prorated for move-in month). They paid rent and I also collected late fee. I don't know what happened there but suspect they were attempting to see what they could get away with? 

Fast forward to this past May, specifically Memorial Day weekend. Tenant caught my hubby and didn't ASK but told my hubby that their daughter would be visiting for the long holiday weekend and would be bringing along her new puppy. It would be crated....blah, blah, blah. To be honest we love dogs and hubby was caught off guard. He doesn't do well with quick replies so half haphazardly said, "okay" and we left it at that. I personally would have had a different response but that is a moot point now. I would have allowed the pup but would have laid ground rules.

So pup comes, pup goes. AND THEN pup keeps coming seemingly every weekend or at least multiple times per month. Daughter lives out of town and visits with her children quite often. Actually they have a son as well with another grandchild and in addition to the couple renting the home there are multiple family members staying - "visiting" the home frequently. I don't begrudge this couple for having their kids and grandchildren visit them however the dog coming so often is getting on my nerves. 

We maintain the yard weekly (over 2 acres) and at first they did good about keeping the dog waste cleaned up. Now, not so much. We run through it with the tractor and of course have to clean it before putting it away til the following weekend and luckily we spotted a tie out before running over it and possibly causing damage to the tractor.

I want to at minimum send an e-mail addressing the subject...would prefer to just have a face to face (see them often). Hubby says we should let it go and not rock the boat. I feel we are being taken advantage of BUT I have an issue with the husband tenant due to an issue (unrelated) that took place in July. Too long to get in to let's just say he was very disrespectful to me personally and caused a large ruckus at the time. Perhaps I am holding a grudge.....

At any rate is this something that I should just let go? Of course I know their security deposit can be used to rectify interior situations if need be but this wasn't a "bring a dog if you feel like it and I won't charge extra" lease! We all know that pets are capable of easily eating up a security deposit and then some.

I am not a tyrant but am feeling like we are being taken advantage of. I don't want them to mistake our kindness for weakness.

If your lease says no pets, and you are passionate about that clause (appears you are), and you have appropriate penalties in place, I don't see any issue implementing said penalties.

You could also look to give them an alternative do they don't feel backed into a corner. State the no pets clause in your face-to-face meeting, but offer to provide an addendum to allow the visiting pooch for a pet deposit/fee and a pet surcharge on top of the rent. State it as an option where they can see the pet and you are compensated for the pet trouble.

If they balk, it was their choice. If it goes to eviction court, perhaps a reasonable judge will see it that way as well.

Best of luck. Try a month-to-month lease!

Personally, I would not just let this go.  I would simply tell them that while you were okay with that single occurrence of a guest bringing a pet, you are not okay with it turning into a habitual occurrence.  I would let her know that you've been seeing the dog on a weekly basis and that it either needs to stop or - if she's a good tenant and if the dog is decent and you wish to continue - consider enforcing some rules and monetary agreements.

It's not the tenant's dog, did your lease specifically mention what constitutes possession of a pet? Time limits for visiting pets? Really, what's the risk as opposed to a dog living there, and a puppy type?

I'd say leave sleeping dogs lying. :) 

My lease states the following:

"Unless the parties agree otherwise in writing, Tenant may not permit, even temporarily, any pet on the property (including but not limited to any mammal, reptile, bird, fish, rodent, or insect.)"

"If tenant violates this paragraph or any agreement to keep a pet on the property, landlord may take all or any of the following action".....etc....

Having a puppy or even an older dog is a huge risk to the home. I work with animals for a living and know what they are capable of even with the best guardians providing supervision. This isn't so much about if I should allow pets it is to get a feel on if I should say something about the continued visiting and not collecting a pet deposit, additional rent, etc...or PICK UP THE POO already!

Sounds like you need to, just to keep your sanity.

If the dog is a huge risk to the home and you don't want to consider any alternatives, it is time to make them comply or find a new place to live.

I think a simple e-mail or letter (something in writing) stating that while you initially did okay a one-time visit of their daughter's dog, that did not include future visits.  Then add that due to your having issues with almost running over tie outs and your equipment soiled by dog feces in the yard, you will have to insist that the no pets clause be complied with and any future sign of any animal will be a violation of the lease.  

@S. Perry  Is this your only rental?  I wouldn't kick up dust over the dog.  Keep an eye on it. Give the tenant a verbal comment and nothing more.  If you are buying more properties plan on loosing a lot of sleep.

Frank

Frank Romine, Real Estate Agent in CA (#01957844)

From reading this it seems to me that you are letting your personal feeling get the best of you.

If they are good tenants and it seems that they might be, then step back and take a look at your feelings and then measure that against the stress and loss of revenue if you have trouble in the near future. If you are stressing now when there isn't really much of a problem, just imagine what it will be like if you have to start eviction proceedings...

They tested you and you faltered. They will test you again. They are rule breakers and rule breakers seldom stop at only breaking one rule. If you didn't intend to enforce the terms of the lease, then better not to have the terms there in the first place. Tell them the dog must not be brought to the property again. When they moved in they agreed to the no pet rule. Dogs, especially puppies, can cause a lot of damage in no time. Hope you have a hefty security deposit! Oh, and better do a property inspection now. Charge for damages as you go, don't hope the security deposit will be enough in the end. It rarely is.

I really don't think this is a matter of them "testing" you. This is simply a matter of their daughter owning a dog and their daughter liking to visit with them. 

The way that I would handle this comes down to how I felt about them as tenants. If I liked them and they pay on time and I want to keep things going smoothly, then I'd simply voice your concerns, mention the poo in the yard issue and leave it at that. You have a long way to go with this tenant and as long as the dog is only visiting and not making extended stays then I probably wouldn't make a big deal about it. 

You didn't mention the breed, but I have exclusions for many large breeds that is part of my insurance. I WOULD bring it up if a tenant had one of those breeds visiting and use it as an excuse to ban the dog from visiting.   

You have to tell them it is not OK.   I think you should speak to them in person and also reinforce it in writing referring to the lease and to the fees.   This is a no pets home.  They are leaving waste in the yard.  No pets form here forward.  

I think the biggest issue right now is that it is very vague to the renter as to where things stand since mixed messages have been sent.  Can the dog come just for the day?  Can the daughter leave him outside when she visits?  Maybe think through what you would accept to have the dog "visit".  Maybe an additional security deposit and/or rent.  Then sit down with them and have them make the decision.  

Of course, you can enforce your original lease, but then you would need to be prepared to go the next step in enforcing it.  If you do have a penalty, send them the penalty notice and even if you eventually waive it in the beginning, make it clear that you are not conceding that the dog was permitted.  Otherwise you a setting a precedence that can come back and haunt you.  

Good luck (full disclosure - I do like dogs).

Thanks for all of your insights and opinions. I was not witness to the original conversation that happened with the tenant and my husband. I typically handle all tenant "conversations" however hubby was in the wrong place at the wrong time and got "told" what was going to be happening. Like I mentioned, had I been there the conversation would have gone differently. What's done is done and now I am stepping in to solve the problem. What I was looking for was opinions on IF the conversation should be had (between LL and tenant) regarding the seemingly constant visits from the dog....not if I should allow the dog to continue to "visit". I don't personally have an issue with the dog coming or even living there at this point BUT the terms of the lease need to be changed to reflect the 4-legged addition and costs associated need to be addressed. It is a Lab but no matter the breed, my insurance does not discriminate (neither do I). 

From a conversation yesterday we may have larger fish to fry. One of the grand daughters (under age 10) who lives a couple of hours away mentioned that she was being home schooled by grandma (my tenant). Hard to home school unless living in the home one would think? Lease states no visitors may stay longer than 14 days without written approval from the LL. It does not clarify 14 days IN A ROW, just states no one person is permitted to stay on the premises for more than 14 days. Having additional bodies in the home is for sure more concerning TO ME personally as it was rented to 2 adults sans children. Less wear and tear, less water, less septic use, etc...

I guess the saga continues. Funny enough the dog isn't there now. If the kids are still there come 14 days then the issue will be addressed and rent increased. Will keep you posted.

I have this problem with my hubby as well, he is the good cop, so I wind up having to be the rule-enforcing bad cop.

This is why I don't do 2 yr leases. And because people can lose their job and in Cook County the eviction process is easier if someone is a holdover tenant versus still under lease. And because if someone wants to leave early there isn't to much you can do about it anyway when they use the security deposit as last months rent no matter how many times you have in the contract that they can't do that.

I wound up with a non-rule following tenant, we a no cat policy, this was clearly communicated and the applicant even said,"I don't even like cats" but then she is cat-sitting all the time with the excuse she doesn't own the cat even though our lease says "NO OTHER ANIMALS FOR ANY PERIOD OF TIME". She was like, what's the big deal, just add the cat to the lease. So we didn't renew her, which she was not happy about.  There were a few other issues with her as well, all stemming from her not being a rule-follower.

Regarding the child staying there, that is different than someone 18 and over staying there I would think; a child can't establish residency or take over possession. Others can speak to this better since I have not dealt with that problem before, but unless the child causes the set occupancy of the unit above the limit I don't think there is much you can do about that. And since charging more for extra tenants could be construed as discrimination against familial status it's probably best to let that go.

I would at least attempt to enforce the no pet rule and enforce any charges you have regarding that,  if they don't pay the fees, and you lease says any payments first get applied to fees, then rent, then that will cause her to be behind in rent, and evicting over rent is much easier than for cause.  If you don't have those items in your lease, serve a Cure or Quit. If that doesn't work, maybe her receiving a Cure or Quit from your lawyer will scare her into following the rules.  The problem is, is that she can "Cure" by not having the dog around for a while....and then the dog may come back.

Or maybe just let the lease run its course and not renew her, and use this as a learning experience and screen better in the future. That tenant with the cat, I thought I had looked her up in all the county lawsuit record databases. Turns out at the time I was not spelling her name right, when I did after we had problems, I found she had gotten in trouble a lot, including beating up her boyfriend/husband a few times, all in all showing that she was not a rule follower. There was no previous landlord to check with, just the current apartment building she was in, and I think the guy lied to me to get her out.  Had I seen the county records when I was processing her app, I never would have rented to her in the first place.

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