Confusing lease re:pets

16 Replies

Originally my leasing agent (not PM) found tenants with 2 cats. Lease was drawn up to include said cats but they bailed before signing. I have read the lease a hundred times and only today noticed something. Please give opinion on language in BOLD. Is dog allowed or not? **Was advertised/leased as a no-pet rental. 

9. PET: 2 cats allowed in home. Attached Rider to lease. **(never removed from lease for prospective tenants w/cats and no rider was attached).

A) 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).

B). If tenant violates this Paragraph 9 or any agreement to keep a pet on the Property, Landlord may take all or any of the following action: 1 dog to be part of the lease (my highlight)

  (1). declare Tenant to be in default of this lease and exercise Landlord's remedies under Paragraph 27;

  (2). Charge tenant, as additional rent, an initial amount of $0 and $0 per day thereafter per pet for each day Tenant violates the pet restrictions;

  (3) Remove or cause to be removed any unauthorized pet and deliver it to appropriate local authorities by providing at least 24-hour written notice to Tenant of Landlord's intention to remove the unauthorized pet; and

  (4). Charge to Tenant the Landlord's cost to:

    a. Remove any unauthorized pet

    b. Exterminate the Property for fleas and other insects

    c. Clean and deodorize the Property's carpets and drapes

    d. Repair any damage to the Property caused by the unauthorized pet

C. When taking any action under Paragraph 9B Landlord will not be liable for any harm, injury, death or sickness to any pet.

Like I said I have NEVER, after reading this lease over and over, ever noticed that bit about "1 dog to be part of the lease". When you look at something so many times I guess we stop "seeing". Tenants came minus a pet but have allowed relatives to bring their pets to the home over the past year. Now a relative has moved in with a dog. Plan on posting notice as soon as attorney signs off on what was going on with the lease. Can still evict for unauthorized persons being moved into the home. Tenants won't respond to our attempts to contact them and try to work things out. Good riddance.

The lease contradicts itself, saying no pets allowed, then it says 1 dog allowed. I would say they are allowed to have a dog, based on that sentence.

Exactly what I was thinking. I know at the end of the day we are solely responsible for what is or isn't included in the lease but I get tired of paying professionals for things only to be disappointed. 

Hey at least if they violate the clause that may or may not allow pets you can charge them an additional $0 / day for 0 days.

Originally posted by @James Wise :

Hey at least if they violate the clause that may or may not allow pets you can charge them an additional $0 / day for 0 days.

 Thanks for your humor? I hope you wouldn't enjoy slamming a fellow LL when they were already down.

Originally posted by @S. Perry :
Originally posted by @James Wise:

Hey at least if they violate the clause that may or may not allow pets you can charge them an additional $0 / day for 0 days.

 Thanks for your humor? I hope you wouldn't enjoy slamming a fellow LL when they were already down.

 Relax. Was not meant to slam you while you were down. 

You have a leasing agent who wrote a lease that has very poor/confusing wording. You were complaining about it. It was a jab at your leasing agent's lease that was meant to lighten the mood.

At the end of the day you have a tenant who pays rent & has a dog in their home which may or may be allowed. One thing is clear, it is not clear that it is not allowed. If this is the biggest problem you have with your tenants right now you do not even have a problem. There will be many more problems that arise much bigger than this one. 

My attorney wrote the lease. He is also my leasing agents attorney. The pets in the home are not the only problem. This is a 2br SFH. By law there are only 4 persons allowed to occupy the home. The tenants have moved in more. Not only are they violating the lease agreement but they are creating an illegal housing situation for us.

Originally posted by @S. Perry :

My attorney wrote the lease. He is also my leasing agents attorney. The pets in the home are not the only problem. This is a 2br SFH. By law there are only 4 persons allowed to occupy the home. The tenants have moved in more. Not only are they violating the lease agreement but they are creating an illegal housing situation for us.

 How much was the home & what does it rent for?

Can you explain what the cost of the home and how much rent affects this situation? I honestly don't know if it can?

That sort of sloppy lease is what happens when a lease starts with one possible approach to a situation (no pets), gets modified for another (somebody allowed one dog), and then evolves to deal with yet another (two cats) - without somebody reading everything to ensure consistency. Since you say an attorney wrote it then that reflects poorly upon the author. And the PM gets some blame for not catching any if this either. And as @James Wise  alluded to, what good is a penalty of zero - somebody neglected to fill in an appropriate amount in drafting that lease. 

Originally posted by @S. Perry :

Can you explain what the cost of the home and how much rent affects this situation? I honestly don't know if it can?

 The cost of the home & the monthly rent has EVERYTHING to do with this situation. If we are talking about a 250k house were the rent is $3,000/mo It'd make sense to go and fight these types of battles.

However,

If we are talking about $700/mo in rent for a 30-40k house your going to need to get used to things like this. This will not be the last time something like this happens. If you go into panic mode & think you can control everything every tenant does & try to evict everyone of them you will go broke.

So I ask the question of rents & cost of the home to gain a better prospective of the situation. The quality of the asset should dictate how you handle the situation. You cannot treat all rentals the same way.

This might be a case of lazy attorney with a sloppy copy & paste error. Regardless, proofing these things every time is critical to avoid this situation. Sounds like you might get lucky & Al Capone this one. Remember, they couldn't get Capone on any of the stuff they really wanted to so tax evasion was the only thing to stick. Use the illegal number of residents to get them out & then correct the lease. Be sure to do your homework so they can't say the additional people are visitors. Neighbors are usually good about telling you if the people live there most of the time & a statement from a neighbor is good for your proof.

Good luck.

The rent for the house is $1225 month which is low for the area but was based on time of year it was rented - January of last year - or coldest on record. We had a PM back in Sept. of 2013 and asking rent was $1450. Unfortunately the PM neglected to show the property, then winter hit. We got screwed by them and they got fired by us. Dropped price to get it rented as we also rent out another structure on the property for $400/month. A reduction of $200 or to $1250 and then leasing agent asked us if we would consider lowering by $25/month for a longer lease. First time LL's and we trusted his expertise. Agreed and we now, between the house and other structure get $1625/month in rent. Property was purchased at $140k in 2010  (a foreclosure) which is currently assessed by county at $200k. Does that help?

What is the other structure that is renting at $400/mo? A garage?

@S. Perry  for me, all tenants living in the unit must be on the lease. Now that is very difficult to enforce. It's hard for the local jurisdiction to enforce as well. How do you prove in a court of law how many people are actually living somewhere? Others have suggested that you can evict over this issue. My experience is that it's very hard to do so unless they post on their facebook page a list of everyone living in the property or something silly like that. You might be able to bluff them out but if push comes to shove you will lose. 

On top of that your PM is between you and them so your PM would be the one that has to do this. The PM likely knows it will be difficult to enforce as well. 

The lease is ambiguous with regards to pets which I have been told goes against the drafter of the lease (you). If they have one dog I don't think any court would allow you to charge them or make them get rid of it. 

Just reading what you posted, it seems like your attorney does not specialize in landlord representation or your PM is practicing law by modifying the lease. The attorney should draft the lease with blanks where things are to be entered (like number of pets) by the PM. Those items should be filled in my hand when the lease is signed. Your PM should not be adding typed text to a lease prepared by an attorney. The attorney should draft the lease in a manner that precludes confusion and allows for easy and clear completion that is readily discernible. 

While large numbers of tenants are undesirable I would be inclined set that issue aside along with the pet issue. I would request in writing monthly property inspections by the PM. I would require that they furnish you a written report along with photographs each month. Any damaged or broken items should be immediately repaired and billed to the tenants. If the tenants fail to pay, then evict them at that point for money owed. Hopefully this type of situation is covered in your lease. Be sure the PM follows the lease. Once you do this for a couple of months the tenants will get the idea that they need to take care of the property. 

We do not have a property management company. 

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