Tenant (long term) acquired dog without asking

13 Replies

Hi folks, one of my 2 rentals is long term. They did not skip rent so far, but always late. I raised the rent little, just because I liked them with kids and all. Rent jumped in Sacramento last few years, rent is now at least $300 below market rate. So for several years they enjoyed living at a nice neighborhood at below market rent. For that you'd think the tenant would be grateful. No - last month I dropped by and found a medium sized dog kept there so I confronted tenant and he apologized. Said he will pay pet deposit, etc. I am quite upset, they did not hold up their side of the agreement. There were so other issues, such as junk on the front yard. I feel betrayed, I dont trust them - I want them gone.

The lease ends in spring 2018. I can certainly wait it out. But what if I evict them asap due to keeping the dog. However, I did not specifically put down "no pets" in lease agreement. I used a very simple one page contract that did not mention pets.

Do I have valid grounds to evict since they violated the terms of lease?

Not worth eviction IMO.

Just let it terminate and not renew.

How did they violate the lease if the lease doesn't say anything about pets?

Overall, not worth it to evict.

Am afraid your lease was not descriptive enough and may have a tough time in court.Take this as a lessons learned and start working on improving your lease from the things you are seeing with current tenants and then wait it out if you can, which you seem to indicate you can do.Even with a very tight lease, I paid close to $3000 in evictions not to mention the heartache from tenants that I inherited on my first duplex purchase where I lived on one side and rented the other.I will never again inherit tenants.These ones moved in an extra person a year and a half in, despite lease saying not to, smoked marijuana and cigarettes in house despite lease saying not to and worse, I lived on property so they became very sneaky about how they broke their lease and these was just a nightmare.I hate evictions, but I equally hate bad tenants and tenants that I have not personally screened and that is why I refuse to take on tenants at property purchase.I also always, always do unit inspections.I just did one yesterday and glad I did, which I had initially decided I would not do, but nope, get in there and see how your property is being maintained.My fairly new tenant seems to have an issue with basic housekeeping.There was a smell in the unit, which I still cannot figure out what it is, but brought it to their attention and will be following up, he has a car that leaks oil endlessly on my newly resurfaced concrete driveway and garage flow, has a ring in toilet bowl that is also stained and smelling toilet from lack of cleaning.It pains me to see a unit that I took great care of when I lived in it to see what it is quickly turning into but I am nipping that in the butt right now.Dirty tenants can be a liability to any landlord, but overall tenants will try to test you and see just how vigilant you are and how much they can get away with.I also make notes on what I want to update on my next lease when I run into issues.Pets?I do have a pet addendum in all my leases, it is initialed even if blank by all tenants whether or not you have pets, to show that you are aware of my pet policy.You learn as you go good luck.

It does not sound like they violated the lease. You did mention that they pay late so next month if they pay late you could then serve them with notice. It sounds like they do pay the rent though so they will probably pay it before they are actually evicted. Unless they stop paying or do not pay the pet deposit as agreed you probably do need to wait out the lease. It is business though so don’t take it personal. Make sure you are familiar with your state laws so that you can serve them with the right amount of notice that you are not renewing so that you can get them out legally.

Thank you, Max, Derek, Annah and Amy!

I knew the correct answer is legally it would not be worth it to evict, especially there is only 3 months until the lease expires. I was under the impression that if the landlord did not take action on an issue like keeping a dog without asking, after a few months, it becomes conditionally accepted and I forfeit the right to dispute.

Anyway, a new development. I went by yesterday to fix a furnace problem since tenant complained heater did not work. I found nothing really wrong, maybe operator error with the thermostat or just scatterbrain. So I got it working - I haven't seen the interior for years since I remodeled in 2011. I was pleasantly surprised at how well they have taken care of the place. They take shoes off and the bathroom is clean. They said when the dog was a puppy it chewed up the screen door but they replaced it. The dog seems well behaved and mostly kept outdoor. They told me they want to continue to lease. So I had a change in heart, made them give a $500 pet deposit and will raise the rent to nearer market rate (but still below) come next lease renewal. I will get a more thorough lease agreement and add some conditions such as keep the front yard free of junk and interior walk-through to ensure the dog doesn't do any significant damage.

Good for you! I find that usually if you work with people and respect them, they will do the same. I once rented a place way under market because the tenant told me she really couldn't afford any more. Then I sold it to her, and discovered at the closing that her mortgage payment was $400/month higher than the rent I had been charging! I felt betrayed, since she obviously lied about what she could afford, then I realized what a great lesson it was and moved on. If you can't afford my property, then you should find one you can afford. The silver lining for me was the hassle free sale...no agent commission or fixing anything before closing. 

Instead of a pet deposit, which you are obligated to return, I suggest charging a pet fee. You do not have to return a pet fee. $29-$49 month.

Why would you choose to supplement your tenants rent. When the lease expires raise their rent to market. 

Contrary to what most hobby landlords think charging slightly below market has no bearing on retaining tenants. They stay because they like where they are not because they save a few dollars a month.

Welcome to the ownership of a rental property. You are like every landlord having to deal with it.

I agree with Embert Madison Jr and that is what I do.I don’t do a pet deposit, instead I wrap it all together in one clean bow, pet fee of $45/month.After my last tenant that had a cat that marked all areas of the carpet in my basement rental unit, I know better than to do a refundable pet deposit.

On a separate note, I am glad to learn that you are thinking of renewing your tenant’s lease.I would do more frequent inspections than 5 to 6 years out.There are certain things if left unaddressed will be very costly 5 years down the line.It is a business and frankly I run it as such.I am out to protect my investment and in all honesty if tenants are clean and care for the place then they have nothing to worry about with at the very least, annual inspections.It shows that you as the owner also do care about your property.

Thomas S.I like your advice on charging market rents.I too have fallen victim of thinking I need to charge just below market value for my rents, and just yesterday an appraiser (am refinancing my property out of FHA to conventional), advised that my property is so well maintained and upgraded that I should be charging market rents.I will take your advice. :)

Your first mistake was using a one-page lease agreement in California. An attorney can provide you with a lease agreement that is complete and updated to California law. You are in one of the most liberal, litigious states in the country and had better figure out how to protect yourself before it comes back to bite you.

I would not try to evict because you have no legal case due to your crummy contract. It could be costly, time consuming, and you will probably lose. I would notify the tenant - in writing - of the following:

1. The dog was not permitted but you will allow them to keep it if the pay an increase to the deposit and rent. The increase to the deposit must be refunded but the increase to the rent is yours to keep or it will help offset losses caused by the pet. Since he's already well below market rate, charging an extra $50 - $100 shouldn't be a big impact. Make them pay this within 72 hours.

2. Notify them the yard is not acceptable and you want it cleaned up.

3. They must submit to an inspection to verify the yard is cleaned up and the pet is not damaging the unit.

4. Let them know the rent will increase to market rate at the time of renewal. They can pay the higher rate (with a strong lease agreement!) or they can find another home.

Please do yourself a favor and find an attorney!

Pretty sure you don't have solid grounds. If it's only spring 2018 until the lease ends, just tell them that in order to renew they will have to pay {new rent} and scare them off. Or just tell them they aren't renewing. Why go through the cost and hassle of eviction when you really don't have grounds if you didn't put 'no pets' in the lease?

Let them finish out the lease. People love dogs man. You collected a deposit for this very reason. Just wait it out & be happy they pay every month. End your relationship on a good note. Give them advance notice you will not be renewing the lease. Get your plans ready for how you're going to command a higher rent. 

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