Puppy in apartment, lease says no, advice wanted

5 Replies

We have a tenant who has a puppy, even though her lease says no pets.  She is claiming it is a service dog in training.  The Scottsdale library doesn't allow "service dogs" who pee and poop where they shouldn't.  I don't think this tenant can claim "service dog" and get away with it legally.  The problem is it is peeing on the floors, which are mostly tile, but bedrooms are carpeted, and the tenant isn't picking up the poop in the yard.  

We have told her to get rid of the dog, but she won't return our calls now.  Would you give her a 5-day notice for breaking the lease?  Or how would you handle it?

I would. Unless you accept a cleaning deposit. 

@Carole G.

You’ll have to review the full letter of the lease...

On the surface, the tenant is in violation of the lease and you should give notice.

Service animals are house trained before they are sold/given to people in need.     What you have is a pet in the house, I feel.

Do some research as there are specific questions you can and cannot ask about a service animal.  Here are a few links to help you out.

https://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm

https://adata.org/publication/service-animals-booklet

http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/assistance-animals-tenants-rights.html

https://www.biggerpockets.com/renewsblog/2015/03/11/emotional-support-animals-waiver-no-petpolicieslaw-say/

@Carole G.  If your lease doesn't allow pets, I would serve the tenant the appropriate notice of the violation for your state.  (In my state, it would be a Notice to Cure or Quit, but I don't know what it's called in your state.) 

See the below excerpts from the U.S. Department of Justice's publication Frequently Asked Questions about Service Animals and the ADA which are relevant to your situation:

Q: Are service-animals-in-training considered service animals under the ADA?
A: No. Under the ADA, the dog must already be trained before it can be taken into public places. However, some State or local laws cover animals that are still in training.

Q: When can service animals be excluded?
A: The ADA does not require covered entities to modify policies, practices, or procedures if it would “fundamentally alter” the nature of the goods, services, programs, or activities provided to the public. Nor does it overrule legitimate safety requirements. If admitting service animals would fundamentally alter the nature of a service or program, service animals may be prohibited. In addition, if a particular service animal is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it, or if it is not housebroken, that animal may be excluded.

You should jump on this pretty quick.  There's a decent chance the pet owner is already in love with their puppy, and the longer you let them get away with breaking the lease, the more fight they are going to put up.

The service dog thing is most likely BS.  Even so- it's a service dog "in training".  

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