What Should Condo Unit Owners & Landlords Know About Pet Policy Laws?

by | BiggerPockets.com

With the increasing popularity and acceptance of pet culture in America, we spoke with Peter G. Calabrese, founding member of Massachusetts legal team Calabrese Law Associates, to get an inside look at the changing legalities surrounding landlord pet policies and real estate law. Calabrese Law Associates has extensive experience with condominium unit law.

More Millennials today are less likely to have children and more likely to have pets. That puts condo owners in a tricky situation as they try to figure out what pet policies are fair to tenants, can cover any damages, and keep them well within the law.

It’s important to have a clear policy that leaves little room for misinterpretation and confusion. Start by limiting the number of pets you accept and outlining which types of pets are allowed. You can also add clauses about requiring pets get spayed or neutered and how tenants must handle pet waste.

Pets can cause additional wear and tear to an apartment or condo unit than normally expected by a tenant with no pets. Therefore, condo unit owners are well within their rights to charge a non-refundable pet fee at move-in. This fee can be in addition to a security deposit, and covers the added damage to a condo once a tenant moves out. Check the laws in your state ahead of time to make sure that your pet fee assessment complies with all application laws and regulations.

Additionally, you should know the difference between a service animal and an emotional support animal. As a condo unit owner (or even a condo association), you cannot deny a tenant with a disability who uses a service animal. Service animals are limited to certain types of animals. An emotional support animal (ESA), on the other hand, is an animal that does not have to perform a specific life task for its handler and can be just about any type of animal. Simply having the animal around for the emotional and physical benefits can qualify it as an emotional support animal.

A request for the allowance of an ESA is less likely to hold up in court when a tenant seeks a reasonable accommodation, but you still may not want to write-off emotional support animals in your condo bylaws, rules, and regulations since it can limit your applicant pool. If you do allow for pets, you will want to have a solid pet policy. To learn more, please read the below infographic on what condo unit owner landlords should know about changing pet policy laws to help you draft the best and most effective condo pet policy for you!

Related: Does Allowing Pets in Your Rentals Make Sense (or Just Scents)?

Changing Pet Policies: What Should Condo Owners Know?

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute legal advice. Please consult with an attorney familiar with your particular locale and situation to ensure you adhere to current laws.

What policies do you have in place for your condo?

Comment below!

About Author

Peter Calabrese

Peter Calabrese is the founding member of Calabrese Law Associates. Upon graduating law school, Mr. Calabrese began his legal career at one of Boston’s largest law firms where he represented international investment banks. While in law school, Mr. Calabrese was a judicial law clerk for the Honorable David D. Livingston and graduated at the top of his class. Mr. Calabrese’s practice covers a broad spectrum of litigation matters related to commercial and residential real estate, condominium association and construction disputes.

2 Comments

  1. Eric Carr

    Seems pretty fair, even acknowledging how ridiculous breed restrictions are. It truly seems like it was written to encourage pet tenancy and outlines the rules and encourages responsible pet parenting. In CA, it is illegal to ask for a non refundable deposit. I have found that kids cause more damage (always meet the pet) but for tenants with pets, I take a 2 month deposit to cover potential damage

  2. Rob Cook

    This is not a “academic” subject or discussion, and with the actual demographics and numbers, learning to manage tenants with pets is the only sensible way to proceed. Pet Banning completely, will hurt your bottom line as a landlord. As with tenants, proper screening is the key. Good pets do no damage, like good tenants. I would estimate that a landlord would lose out on as much as 75% of their potential tenant pool if they do not allow pets. How strong is YOUR market! Mine cannot allow me to rule out 75% of the tenant pool!

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