Lease Pet Agreement/Disagreement

5 Replies

Hey everyone, my niece and sister are in a predicament and I'm not quite sure what the answer is:

So, my niece just signed a lease for an apartment and she apparently initially never told the management company that she had two cats and apparently the property manager never asked her if she had pets.

After a week or two I think she made it aware to the manager that she had two cats, so I think, the manager essentially said, "Ok" and sent her the pet agreement addendum which equates to $100 per month per pet extra in rent and a $450 non-refundable deposit. 

My niece said she didn't know about any extra rent for pets and told the manager that she can't afford an extra $200 per month and that even though the lease is signed she won't be able to move in.

So now the management company said that since she signed and my sister co-signed the year-long lease that she is still responsible to pay the rent for the year. My niece thinks she should just look for another place even though the lease is signed and she hasn't moved in yet, but she's worried about her mom's/my sister's credit taking a hit for cosigning and bailing.

I think there's fault on both sides, but I also think if they're not going to work with her on the pet agreement that she should just look for another place and just say screw the lease.  

What do you guys think?



My recommendation: walk away. The Landlord is obligated to make a good-faith effort to find a new renter which will effectively terminate the lease and any obligation your niece has. If she was supposed to move in July 1st and they find someone else to move in July 1st, they should terminate her lease and refund the deposit. If they don't find a new tenant until August 1st, then your niece would be obligated for rent through July 31st. Make sense?

I don't mean to insult your family member but maybe you should explain that it's not wise for a renter to own two pets when they can't even qualify for an apartment without using a cosigner. She should only own pets when she's able to afford them, care for them, and take responsibility for the damage they may cause.

Thanks @Nathan G. ! That makes total sense. 

As to my niece, I couldn't agree more. I actually told her maybe she should get rid of the cats just so she would have more options for apartments to rent, but she's a crazy cat lady already at age 20 so I knew my advice would go in one ear and out the other!

Thanks again!

@Travis Guyer I would say that if the lease application doesn't ask about pets, and lease contract has no pets clause, then she might have a chance to win an argument on this. But I doubt that, and is more likely that your niece, and your sister as a co-signer, didn't pay attention and read carefully the documents they agreed to and signed.

I would say it's a bad way to start her rental history and risk a credit report stain because of cats, not to mention the trouble it will cause to the cosigner, if she chooses to just walk away.

So, it looks these are the options:

1. Move in and pay the pet rent and pet fee (if it's a deposit is refundable, there is no such thing as a non-refundable deposit). Learn the lesson.

2. Get rid of the cats, host them with someone else (cosigner?) and move in. Learn the lesson.

3. Move in with the cats, risk discovery and penalties/eviction later.

4. Ignore and look for another place, loose her deposit and risk stains on her rental history (likely to get reported on tenants networks) and credit score damages. Compare that with option 1.

5. Try negotiate a compromise - only $100 pet rent total (although $100/m for a cat seems excessive to me, especially when if they charge security deposit and pet deposit/fee), maybe half the pet deposit/fee.

6. Try negotiate some sort of out with the property management, especially if the pets clauses are missing or unclear. Keep it nice and civil, play the young and naive image (although hard to do that with a co-signer).

7. Escalate to tenant advocates/arbitration/lawyer and be prepared for associated time and money costs.

8. Risk @Nathan G. recommendation [and I subscribe to his 2nd paragraph totally].

Good luck...and read your contracts thoroughly before signing.

@Nathan G. is pretty accurate on what he says . BUT I do know this about Maryland . If there are 6 empty units in an apartment building , the landlord is under no obligation to rent her unit first .  Now what the management company can do is take both the signer and co signer to court , get an eviction and file a judgement , thus damaging the credit of both of them . If they do file an eviction , this can and will effect the 20 year olds ability to rent anywhere else for at least 10 years . 

They signed a contract , and its not personal , just business .

I appreciate your responses @Matthew Paul , @Costin I. , and @Nathan G. ! I showed her your guys' answers and I think she's done some soul-searching since then. I'm not sure if she's going to give up her cats, but I think she sees her personal responsibility in a different light and what can be expected when you're a young person with no credit.

Thanks again!