if I prohibit pets by lease for 1 tenant do I need to do for all?

5 Replies

The lease stipulates 'No pets". However, a very good tenant of 4 years recently asked if she could have a small dog due to feeling lonely from quarantining. I'm ok with granting this. However, I also rent the adjacent attached townhome to a couple for the last 5 months. They pay rent reliably but aren't the best housekeepers, nor ground keepers.  I'm concerned they would ask for the same. 

Am I legally responsible for having the same lease terms for pets for ALL 4 properties in the same community ? These are walkup townhomes. Six townhomes per building. I own and rent out 3 adjacent units.

@Marsha Burks If you allow in one, then you will probably need to do it consistently for all your properties even if they are adjacent. If the other tenant who is not allowed to have a pet because it stipulates it in the contract then sees a tenant that they know is renting from you have one, there may be potential legal issues there. Laws state we can't discriminate for many reasons and all they have to do is state one of those reasons and then you have a lawsuit on your hands. Even if none of those reasons are accurate.

Best of luck!

You can accomplish this through the terms of an amended lease. You want to create a situation where tenant A can have a dog, but maybe not your other tenants without explicitly saying so. Your pet addendum could have clauses like these (figure out what works):

Tenant is permitted to have 1 dog of {your qualifying characteristics here} in exchange for a non-refundable pet fee of 1/2 month's rent and the tenant's agreement that dog damage does not constitute normal wear and tear on the property, provided that:

1. Property's flooring has not been replaced in the last 4 years.

2. Tenant's tenure in the property is 48 months or greater.

3. Tenant paid rent consistently on-time {or 90% of the time} for the past 24 months.

4. There have been no police, municipal, legal nor maintenance complaints against tenant for tenant-responsible maintenance or behavior in the past 12 months.

Documenting your pet policy now will allow you to flex like this and you can always change your pet policy in the future.

Your rationale here, should you need to defend it, is your pet policy is flexible but protects new flooring (#1), requires a profitable since the pet is likely to do damage (#2, #3) and a tenant who is not a p.i.t.a. (#4); uh, I mean who honors the lease and is well behaved.

    You are NOT required to have the same terms. Contrary to popular opinion, you are legally allowed to discriminate for any reason except those explicitly against the law (race, gender, etc). 

    I would have no problem letting an excellent tenant have a dog and not allowing a so-so tenant to have a dog. If the so-so tenant has a problem with it, they can find a new place to live. 

    Since the tenant you were kind enough to allow to have a pet is a long time renter I'd say you could stipulate that a tenant has to be in place for say two years with no late payments to qualify. From the sounds of it the ones you have an issue with won't qualify. Set terms and live or die by them.