K, so I know these are the kinds of things I signed up for when I became a landlord, but man, I'm not a happy camper...I drove by my property and saw a cat in the window of the house. My lease has a strict no pet policy and the renters were very aware of this. What is my next move? :(
Send them a written notice regarding having seen the cat and include your state required notice to do a landlord inspection.
Make it very clear that you are doing a thorough inspection to discover if there is a cat on the premises in violation of their lease.
Check for cat smell, cat litter, cat food in cupboards etc.
If they make excuses, such as pet sitting, Make it explicitly clear that any violation regardless of how minor is grounds for eviction. Allow them the option of terminating the lease and moving out by end of month.
You can not trust them to respect your lease since they have proven they have no respect for you or your property if a cat is present.
Either they voluntarily leaving or you evicting.
Just be open and honest with your tenant. Tell them you drove by and saw a cat in the window, and ask them to explain what is going on. They need to agree to remove the cat within a short amount of time, otherwise you can say that they are in violation of the lease agreement. Contrary to popular belief, you can evict even if they are paying on time, if the property is getting damaged. Hopefully it doesn't get to that point. By the way, cat urine smell is almost impossible to remove if it seeps into the floors. Act quickly!
Be honest with the tenant, but stay firm. They are in a violation of their lease. Document it as well, if you see the cat in the window, take a photo for your records next time!