We have a tenant that moved into our old house, and she has been there almost 3 years. She takes good care of the property, has a young family, and seems to like living there. She is currently on a month-to-month lease, we haven't raised rent since she moved in, (currently pays $775, and market is closer to $850). She consistently pays a late fee of $60 per month and did so 11 out of 12 months last year, essentially bringing the rent up to $830 per month for 2018. I drove by the house yesterday, and found that they've added a member to the family (see photo below). In the original lease this tenant signed, there were no pets allowed on the property. I contacted the local management team to get their thoughts, and they told me I can give her notice to vacate within 30 days for breaching our contract or to charge her a $300 one-time pet fee that is non-refundable.
Frankly, I do not like either option, and I'm hoping the BP Community might have some suggestions.
Thanks in Advance, Derek
Looks like you won't have much of a choice. There is a good chance that if you ask them to pay a $300 pet fee they will not be able to pay it and will move out. Better get them out sooner before that huge dog creates more repairs for you!
I am in a similar situation. I received a call Christmas Eve from my property manager, asking if I would greenlight a puppy for the family in my Florida property. The home has tile flooring throughout with an exception of the bedrooms, which have engineered wood. Not wanting to be a Grinch, I said ok. The tenant will pay a $500 non-refundable pet deposit, but I'm concerned with potential damages.
@Curt Davis what are your thoughts on a raise in rent when the year lease expires in the next 4 months?
For me, I never raise my rents as I do not want my tenants to move out as the turnover cost would not be worth the trouble, maybe $25 more per month at most.
I would call them first (or have your mgmt company call) and talk through the options. Explain that they are in violation of their lease and that they will either have to pay $300, vacate, or get rid of the dog. If they ignore you or don't comply, then post notice to vacate.
We had a tenant a few years ago that worked at a pet store and liked to adopt pets. We agreed to 1 dog initially in her lease, and when she brought another one home without having it approved, we laid out similar options. She put up a fight, but ended up giving the dog to a family member.
If you don’t want a dog there then don’t agree to it ! Post up a comply or quit notice- if she still has the Mongrel file for eviction . don’t put up with that crap
First I would not be keeping this tenant. I do not retain tenants that do not comply with their lease. No point in having lease language you do not intend to enforce.
I know from experience that it is very rare that a tenant will move due to a annual rent increase so keeping rent to market is standard.
Assuming you allow dogs I would first have this tenant at market rent, collecting a late fee is amateur at best and is a very poor business practice, so raise her to market. With her rent at $850 I would inform her if she wants to keep the dog her pet fee will be an additional $50/month.
She may move she may not but if she does leave replace her with a good tenant that can actually afford your rent and train them properly from day one.
She either leaves or pays, one or th eother I would not care which since she is not a good tennat and can not affo
First off, that is not a pet. It is an Emotional Support Animal. Tenants don't have pets today, they have ESAs. You try to charge her a fee for Sparky and you'll soon get a copy of her letter from Dr. Fudderbuttter who diagnosed her via email as needing Sparky to live an emotionally fulfilling life. Now you're in a bad position with trying to raise rent or charge a fee or remove her from the rental for breach. Until the government allows landlords to take a stand, animals are just a part of the business you will need to accept. Going forward factor pets into your rental price and security deposit. In this case, just raise the rent without mentioning the dog. You're just adjusting rent closer to market rates.
Also, you should not be using rent + late fee in order to get current market rent. You should be charging near market rent and the late fee is a penalty for being late.
Your response depends on the goal. Do you want her gone? Do you want the dog gone? Are you willing to sacrifice both and start over with a new tenant? A thirty day notice can be more than a demand to vacate. You can include wording that says she has 30 days to get rid of/relocate the dog. If she's unwilling/unable to do that then she can vacate. If you're okay with the dog staying there you can either start charging a pet fee (ours is $1 a day) or a one time non refundable pet deposit.
Just raise the rent , to a bit higher than market raise it $100.per month no explanations and no mention of the dog . The tenant will either move or pay the rent . If you really want them out raise the rent $500 a month . Do this before you raise the dog issue , then they cant throw an ESA defense against you
I take pets, and I get pretty darn high rents. Dog lovers will pay a lotnof money to keep the dog happy. I dont find any correlation between havong pets or not. Ive had both great and awful tenants without pets, and great and awful tenants with pets. my rents are so high, and thus my security deposits, that it would be pretty hard to damage the property enough to blow through their whole security depsoit.
You basically have 3 options: evict, charge pet deposit, or make them get rid of the dog. The dog appears to not be a puppy, which IMO, is better. Puppies can cause a lot of damage. So can adult dogs, but if it's properly trained, then you have a lot less chance of damage. People with animals usually will not give their pets up in order to stay living somewhere. They will just find a LL who accepts pets. How hard will it be to re-rent the house if you evict them? How much repair is needed? They've been there for 3 years...there's a good chance they don't want to leave so I'm sure you can both come to some sort of agreement.
Before we jump to an eviction here, have the property management company notify the tenant that having a dog in their home is a lease violation and they have a week to get rid of it or face potential court proceedings.
Then see how they react and take it from there. If they are good people they will get rid of their dog because they didn't honor the lease.
If they do not remove the dog then you have a decision to make. Start the process on a 30 day notice or eviction on the lease violation grounds, or keep a paying tenant who has a dog. I know evicting someone for something other than non payment of rent can be difficult in my state, not sure how it works in yours.
Tough decision for sure because by evicting/giving notice to a paying tenant you are essentially taking a performing rental and now facing a turnover (probably large one because she's been there so long) and a vacancy.
There is no playbook for this, but I would see if they voluntarily get rid of the dog and go forward from there. Start with the path of least resistance and prepare for the worst if they refuse.
Hi @Derek Sperzel ,
I disagree with a lot of the posts below so I will offer my input as a PM, and a dog lover :).
This is your property, and yes the tenant is in violation of her lease. Since the tenant is on a month to month lease, now would be a good time to re-evaluate the tenancy. Do you want to keep this tenant, or is it time to give notice to vacate and re-lease the property? Would you consider the dog, or are pets not negotiable?
The first step would be assessing the properties overall condition. Have your management company visit the property and take photos, assess repairs and damage ect. If the property is in good condition and If you're willing to consider the dog, then send the tenant a letter with the intent of increasing the rent by X amount each month($775 to $825 for example) beginning on X date. If the tenant agrees to the increase, then have a pet agreement signed and request a deposit for the pet. Have the property visited at least quarterly for the remainder of the lease.
Second option-if the dog is not negotiable, then give the tenant notice to vacate. Since she has been a long term tenant, I would suggest more than a 30 day notice. (60-90 days)
Third option-Send notice to vacate for violation of the lease or the eviction process will be started unless the dog is removed. (I would highly suggest to NOT do this) It can be easily avoided in this situation because of the month to month lease and quite frankly, dogs are family too.
Best of luck!
"If they do not remove the dog then you have a decision to make."
This should never be the case in dealing with tenants. As the landlord you make your decision before speaking to a tenant in regards to a lease violation. You present the tenant with their options and the tenant makes the decision as to what they intend to do. When the tenant makes their decision you then follow through on your actions as presented to the tenant in advance. Your decision is made for you by the tenant.
This tenant will either keep the dog and pay a fee, assuming they are offered that option, or get rid of the dog. The tenant may also choose to leave. It is entirely the tenants decision not the landlord.
This is one of the issues that many landlords lack comprehension on in regards to the operation of our business. As a example a landlord never makes the decision to evict a tenant. A tenant chooses eviction from numerous options provided them by their landlord.
Thank you for all your feedback. I'm electing to raise the rent to $875 (+$100 per moth) at this time, and keep the violation in my back pocket for now. I expect the tenant will move out with the rate increase, but if they stay, I will likely issue a notice of violation in the following months.
I would strongly advise you give notice regarding the violation immediately. Once you know about a violation and do no act immediately it is essentially approving of the violation. The tenant then has a very strong argument to not have to pay any fee. Ignoring a violation amounts to the same as accepting the situation and removes your ability to act on it in the future.
It is the same as a tenant moving in a unapproved guest. If the landlord is aware and does nothing then that guest becomes a legal tenant with all the rights of the actual tenant on the lease. Ignoring violations amounts to the same as approving a violation in the eyes of the law. You can not simply change your mind in the future and deem it to be a violation again.
@Derek Sperzel . I allow pets but only with preapproval. Our preapproval requirements are that they have to have renters insurance which covers the dog and proof that the pet is spayed or neutered. I would also raise the rent by at least $25 per year. That is enough to increase your profits while not too much for a tenant to afford.
I would address the dog issue now if you plan to. There is not a right way to handle this depending on your goals and preferences. I would probably keep the tenant till spring when it is easier to find a replacement tenant and then not renew because they do not seem like an ideal tenant paying late 11 months and now sneaking in a pet.
@Derek Sperzel 1. Raise the rent and do not ever, ever ever let another year go by with no rent raise. EVER...even if $10..raise it so they get used to it, just like your property taxes, up every year.
2. IF your state allows pet rent, do pet rent over a deposit. Deposits are always a pain and you want the income.
3. I would absolutely give them notice on the lease violation. @Thomas S. is right in many of his points, though he is a bit harsh, which might be for effect, in general, he is correct, you have to correct the behavior or it will get worse. That being said, I care about return and income not about forcing vacancy to prove how big my britches are...so I would try to get the rent increase and pet rent (if your state allows pet rent) but would like to keep them. Writing is on the wall though with those late fees...I do not think they can afford this house...and certainly not the dog, so be prepared for that if the rent goes up.
"but would like to keep them."
That is not a landlords choice unless they are prepared to compromise their business principals and their lease. There is nothing harsh in regards to enforcing your lease when you provide a tenant with options. What could be more accommodating than options. When a tenant signs a lease they make a commitment. Nothing harsh about enforcing rules in correcting bad behaviour as you point out. It is black and white, it is business not personal, nothing harsh about following rules.
Present the options to your tenant in a friendly manor, explain the options, and let her decide. If she moves it will because she can not afford the rent not because of the options. Fact is she pays late and is not a tenant you should "like to keep".
This is another post about a PM not doing their job. If they were doing their job they would have known about the dog and notified the owner, not the other way around. Are there any PM that do more than just collect rent?
@Thomas S. I agree with 99% of your advice. I also 100% agree with this reply and I think we are on the same page, just different approaches. I always look at my cost of turn over, how much reno the unit needs, the current workload for my team, the current number of vacant units. Based on that, we might decide to keep someone for a while EVEN if they violated the lease as long as we could live with the resolution. You are correct about figuring out what options you want as the landlord and letting them pick, I agree 100% with that.
I didn't have time to read all the other responses so I'm probably repeating what others have said:
Get rid of her as soon as legally possible.
She doesn't respect the written agreement. She pays late every time and you see that as extra income but I see it as a sign of what's to come. Sure enough, she moves in a dog without permission. Next, she'll add another dog or just up and leave without notice or stop paying rent or move in her sister and five kids or...
You get the idea. Get rid of her.
@Greg M. I love this approach. Tennant's will essentially lawyer up and get an online hack to give them an ESA cert. I realize there's "the principle" aspect but that doesn't pay the rent. Hit them with an above market increase and they either pay it as a defacto deposit or they leave and you can move on to someone new.