tenant trying to sneak in a dog

marvelousmarvinApril 1, 2007

How should I go about handling this? The tenant has lived there for over a year, and just renewed the lease even though the lease clearly stated that no pets were allowed. Its a townhouse, and no backyard per se although there's plenty of grass in the common areas. This is one of the reasons why this tenant was selected over another possible tenant because that other possible tenant wanted to bring in a rather large dog.

I was just over there last week, getting something fixed when I noticed a schedle that had information about pet training a dog. And, then I noticed cans of food for a dog. But, there was no dog inside so I'm assuming the tenant removed the dog, knowing that I would be there that day, or hasn't yet brought in the dog.

Do I confront the tenant, and remind him about the lease about no pets allowed? But, I don't know if that would resolve the matter because I doubt somebody would just abandon their pet like that.

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I think I would wait to see if a dog really shows up. Maybe a friend has a dog and she's helping the friend train and dog and picked up some food for the friend. Maybe the place she works just got a dog. Maybe she's volunteering at a place...like "greyhound rescue." I think it's worth keeping an eye out for. Normally I have other tenants who inform me when something is going on.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2007 at 10:25AM
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You could send out a letter to the tenant saying it's been brought to your attention they may or may not have a dog. Then state that this a violation of the leasing agreement and further action may be taken if the dog isnt found another home.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2007 at 4:18PM
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Just say you noticed the dog items and wanted to remind them pets are not allowed.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 12:31PM
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Why mention anything when there is nothing to mention? Just because you see "How to train a dog" books in his place doesn't mean he has a dog. What if he had a book about how to ride and care for a horse? Would you assume he was trying to sneak in a horse too?

Reminding him about the pet policy is unecessary and personaly I would be insulted, expecially if I am not doing anything wrong. I would wait untill you have actual evidence, like an actual dog present, to say anything. If you start busting his balls without him doing anything wrong might start a negative relationship.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 4:30PM
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But, how would I find out when the dog shows up unless the dog makes so much noise that somebody complains to the association, and then the association then fines me? I mean, I don't think his roomates are going to say anything about it otherwise they would have informed me already. And, his neighbors aren't going to inform me because the association itself allows pets and so the neighbors will probably think that I allowed pets for this rental. Its just that in my particular condo, I didn't want to rent out to petowners.

The only reason I found out was because I just happened to be inside to fix something. Other than that, I probably won't be inside. And, the tenant could just simply remove the dog if I ever need to come back and fix something. There's no way I can catch him in the act because I'm going to need to give him a 24 hr notice if I ever need to go inside, and he could just move the dog again.

I'm pretty sure there's a dog, or they're planning to bring in a dog. I also saw some mat over the carpet, to protect the carpet underneath, in a particular spot where you could put a dog. If I hadn't seen the dog training schedule and dog food first, I don't think I would have thought much about it.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 7:33PM
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Just keep an eye out for the dog itself. He's going to have to walk the dog sooner or later and when you see him walking the dog then it's justified to approach him and remind him of the rules.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 11:02PM
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As a landlord you have the right to inspect the apartment whenever you choose. It says that right in my lease.I would go back unexpected one day and try to catch him with the dog.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 2:09AM
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Uh... if the dog is that unobtrusive, and no one's complaining, would lightning strike you or something if you just left well enough alone until such time as a problem did occur? It's one thing to have a no-dog lease, another to turn a clause into a witch hunt because you inadvertently saw evidence of one somewhere.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 5:43AM
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Just because you see "How to train a dog" books in his place doesn't mean he has a dog.

But he also saw dog food. There is no reason to have dog food if you don't have a dog.

At this point, since you haven't actually seen the dog, I'd say a reminder of the regulations and the consequences of breaking them would be appropriate.

You may need to give them 24 hrs notice to enter the residence, but you could just spontaneously go up and knock on the door to talk to them face to face, and explain your suspicions.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 8:30AM
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I can remember picking up dog food for a girl friend and also buying her a dog training book, but I didn't have a dog.
Someone mentioned waiting to discover the dog. I think this is a good strategy, but if it is discovered, take action immediatley. Once a person gets attached to a dog. it's really hard to get rid of it.
As far as doing a surprise inspection, make sure you know the laws of your state regarding this. If the tenant happens to have a friend who is in law school or is a tenant's rights advocate, you could find yourself in court.
Do you know any of the neighbors who can keep an eye out for you. I think this is what I would try to do.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 4:28PM
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"As a landlord you have the right to inspect the apartment whenever you choose. It says that right in my lease.I would go back unexpected one day and try to catch him with the dog."

So lets pretend that you show up on this suprise inspection and find no dog. Lets say you try it again and still no dog. What possible excuse would a landlord need to enter my apartment? "Just because I can" doesn't seem to be a legaly viable reason. If my landlord decided to do a suprise inspection for no reason at all I would be quite upset about it and the chances of renewing my lease have greatly reduced. Who wants to live in an apartment where the landlord wants to inspect your home at their whim and for any reason?

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 8:20PM
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He has a reason though~if he suspects there is a dog,he has every right to try to find out.It is a violation of the lease and could be terms for eviction.So,legally,that is his reason.he doesnt have to tell the tenant that.

I'm a dog lover myself,and my apartment doesnt allow them.But I follow the rules.Besides,if the dog barks at all,someone will most likely turn the tenant in.And,where is the dog going to the bathroom? Sooner or later the tenant will have to walk the dog outside to go and will be busted.
Otherwise,this means the dog is going in the house,and the landlord has every right not to want that.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 8:33PM
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I think as a landlord you have every right to make sure your rules are enforced, however, I do not think a landlord has the right to enter someone's home on suspicion of a dog. Drugs, illegal activity, perhaps, but not over a dog. Give the tenant the respect of just asking them and reminding them that if they do have a dog with your no pet policy, they will be evicted immediately. It would be awful to go into someone's home and find they not only do not have a dog but that they now feel you have violated their privacy. Thank goodness our lease states that management cannot enter our homes unless there is fire, or some other emergency. Otherwise, they have to have permission.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 9:50PM
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Regardless of a lease that gives the landlord permission to enter without notice for inspections, the 4 states that I have owned rentals in all forbid this. I'm sure there could be some states with no laws or very lax tenant-landlord laws, but if they have any rental laws at all, my guess is that this fact is covered. Of course, all 4 of the states I am familiar with do allow entry without notice in case of emergency.
What this entry provision comes down to is....you can put what you want in your lease, but it doesn't mean that the provision is legal. It could be or it might not be.
And, if you happen to be in Texas, you might get shot with the tenant thinking you are an intruder:-)

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 11:00PM
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As somebody who's owned a dog myself, I don't have problems with pets per se but I just don't think this condo is appropriate for one. There's no backyard, and I don't think the dog has been housebroken yet from the dog training manual I saw. A dog in such a confined space could cause tremendous damage, without the owner ever finding out untill its too late. Its claws and nails could rip and scratch the flooring. Or, the dog could pee or poo over the carpets, and a dog smell can be very difficult to eradicate. What happens when this tenant moves out, and I try to rent it out but everybody rejects this condo because of the lingering dog smell.

Plus, there's the legal liability of having a dog. If this dog ever attacks anybody, then I could also be held liable if I was aware of this situation. And, the problem with waiting until the dog becomes an issue is that I could not legally evict a tenant out at that point if I knew that there was a dog and accepted that.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 5:04AM
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Marvelous...I don't think you have to justify at all why you don't want a dog (although I agree with your reasons). I had many rentals and wouldn't allow dogs and yet I had one of my own. You own the property and make the rules as you want. The renter has a choice when he/she moves in. They look at the lease and the rules and if they don't like them, they just look for another place with a lease that they agree with.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 9:01AM
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Waiting for the dog to show up isn't really a good option since I don't live in that same area, so I would never be able to spot the tenant walking the dog.

So, basically, I'm going to take a page out of Dale Carnegie and send a letter reminding the tenant about the no pets policy in the contract he signed. Something along these lines "Somebody else informed me about evidence of a pet, but I'm sure that person was mistaken since I'm sure my tenant would never knowingly bring a pet in violation of the lease. But, just as a reminder, the lease expressly forbids a pet. The reason why is that a pet can cause tremendous damage to a condo. I'm sure we'd both want to avoid a situation like that, where the deposit will be used to pay for any damages caused by a pet, which can be severe."

I've known I was going to write a letter, but I'd like to think a couple of steps ahead before I send the letter. The tenant could deny it, and then I'd have to find more evidence. Or, the tenant could confirm a pet, and that's the really tricky part. Most likely, I don't think a petowner is going to abandon his pet. I don't know what other landlords do in that situation, if they then try to evict that tenant. Is the time and money that goes into evicting a tenant worth it? Or, do landlords just roll over and accept this?

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 4:26PM
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marvin, I would send the letter but not include the sentence The reason why is that a pet can cause tremendous damage to a condo.

I am in full agreement with coolvt: you are the owner and you do not want a pet. Period. There's no discussion. By including a reason you open yourself up to discussion which can quickly become argumentative. And yes, I would start eviction procedings immediately if a tenant got a pet.

I do not allow pets (for the same reason you don't). I had one tenant who after living here 4 years (all 1 year leases which explicitly prohibit pets) asked to have a cat which I denied. She had become increasingly annoying about a lot of things over the years but she paid the rent, was quiet, clean and wasn't causing damage. She signed a lease for a fifth year and 9 months into it asked to sublet because she wanted to move to a place that permitted pets. She had become increasinly high maintenance and I let her go. If it weren't a pet it would have been something else.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 7:39PM
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