Reported Pets at my No Pets Allowed SFH

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My handyman reported my renters have 3 dogs inside my SFH rental. The lease clearly states no animals or pets allowed without prior written consent from me. There is no penalty dollar amount specified for violation nor pet deposit or pet rent amounts outlined since it is a No Pet/Animal Policy.

Tenants are on a 12 month lease and have not been late so far.  Since I have not seen the animals first hand and have no physical evidence other than my handyman’s report - what should my course of action be?  If I schedule a visit I’m sure they will remove the dogs.  Should I just drop by and surprise them?  Do I need to set eyes on the animals myself before taking action?

I don’t want to start eviction without speaking to them first and need to know my rights in this situation.

@JJ Jameson My lease says if unapproved pets are discovered that they may forfeit their entire security deposit. You may consider adding something like this to your future leases.

Also instruct your handyman to send you pictures when he sees something that might not be right.

I would send a 7 day notice to cure (or what your local laws dictate). Followed by an inspection.

That will let them know that you know.

Do you have a fenced yard where they would let the dogs out in the yard where a drive by might spot them?

You could offer to approve the dogs and charge a pet fee?

Does your lease allow you to just drop by unannounced?

You could ask your neighbors to keep an eye out and offer to pay them for a picture of any pets past the notice to cure time frame.

I would never start an eviction without talking with the tenant and giving them a chance to fix issue, especially if they are paying the rent on time. You really need proof before starting an eviction.

They may have a story of how it was not their dogs and someone stopped by to visit. I've heard them all.

I am doing a set out for a non paying tenant this afternoon, not fun but it has to be done sometimes.

Good luck!