Lease Agreements and Pets

kashka_katMarch 7, 2014

Hello pet owners - especially dog people

Im a small time landlord, rent out downstairs apartment and live upstairs. Ive usually said no dogs because I just don't know of a way to screen out the loud shrill yappers or the ones that just bark on and on and on the minute their owners leave and then the owners deny their little angels can possibly be doing that, since they're not around to hear it.

It's a dilemma because it seems to me that the most reliable, emotionally stable people tend to have pets so why rule them out? But then all it takes is one problem and your quality of life goes downhill drastically - for months on end sometimes.

Just wondering if yall have any ideas on how to screen out the problems - what approaches have you taken with landlords to verify that you're a good responsible owner. How have landlords you've dealt with handle it - do they just allow your dog and hope for the best or is there any negotiation involved?

I know some landlords charge extra for pets but that doesn't really get at the problem, IMHO. Some say small dogs only - does that translate into less loud or obnoxious barking?

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As a renter who has always had dogs,including rotties and a yapper that I have know. I've always offered my vets name & number for a reference,thats a great place for you to start. As for the yappers I'm surprised something hasnt been said to me.
Check with their current landlord if you can. I wish my current bldg. manager checked references, there are some inconsiderate people around me. Good Luck & Dont Be Conned

    Bookmark   March 7, 2014 at 11:14AM
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I disagree that the most reliable people have pets. No way! There are all kinds of reliable people in the world.

I assume the barking is your concern. Most dogs bark at some point in their lives--boredom, visitors, mailman, etc. You must inquire of the potential tenant if the dog barks and encourage them to be honest. If they say no, then rent to them on a month-to-month basis so you can move them out easily if the dog barks, easier than if you give them a lease. Make sure they understand that if the dog disturbs you by barking, they will be served the appropriate legal notice to vacate. On the other hand, cats are quiet.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2014 at 12:30PM
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Socks - I meant to say that reliable people tend to have pets, not that most pet owners are reliable. ON THE CONTRARY - there are some real jerks out there, and sadly its the animal that suffers for their stupidity.

The month to month lease is probably the way to go - but as Im finding now with a smoker (who signed the no smoking agreement ) its not so easy to get someone to go. Months of my life that I will never get back again.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2014 at 1:10PM
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Does your property have a fenced yard?

Do you like dogs?

Would you be willing to help a tenant take care of their dog? Play in the yard, let it out/in, provide some company? Doing those things would simplify the dog noise problem.

One requirement should be that you and the dog get along. And that you require the tenants to monitor the dog and any barking. Adequate exercise/nutrition/water/potty breaks help keep a dog quiet. A little assistance from you could help in that area.

Dogs communicate in several ways. Barking/vocalizing is the noisiest.

I really do not like noisy dogs---and I have two dogs. One is a guard dog who is VERY noisy when someone comes near our house(which is exactly what I want). He is trained to stop barking on command. Our other dog makes sure school buses, trash trucks, and certain motorcycles do not endanger our house. She also is trained to stop on command.

A further situation is when the tornado warning sirens sound. Max(the GSD mix guard dog) howls. Not much I can do there.

Max barks to go out/come in. But, I do not want either barking at the neighbor's animals. Takes some training and attention.

Another solution is to only rent to folks who own Basengis. (But they do bark and howl).

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 10:25AM
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We rent out several properties. We always say no pets except cats, fish and birds (no smoking too). However, people sneak them in anyway. IâÂÂd say all but one tenant sneaked in a dog, even several dogs. Even 3 dogs, 2 cats, a ferret, a parrot, a rescue squirrel, and several rabbits. With that one we pretty much threw up our hands; when she passes away weâÂÂll just call animal control, then set the house on fire.

We have to get punitive on the lease, saying something like, if you have a dog, when you move out, you will be charged a hefty cleaning fee, any repairs necessary, plus carpeting replacement. Then I inspect before they move and make a list.

Luckily we have not had neighbors complain to us. If they complain to the tenant, we have not heard about it

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 5:47PM
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I have a house that I rent out and I am no longer accepting pets after a cat caused thousands of dollars in urine damage. I do not blame the cat - I blame the owners who did not clean up the litter box. I will never get that money back as the renters don't have anything to go after.

The problem with accepting pets is that if things go wrong they can go very wrong! I have 2 beloved cats in my home and I thought they were great about the litter box until I started noticing a smell. I got a black light and I now see that at least one of my cats was getting urine over the sides of the box. This was not intentional spraying but the fault of the litter box sides being too short. I have found that I need to use a storage container with 17" sides as a litter box. I need to have drywall and sub floor sections and trim replaced and it will be a huge hassle and considerable expense. The same thing could happen to the best cat owners.

You are less likely to have urine problems with a dog (and their urine won't be as difficult to remove as cat urine) but dogs can chew wood doors, door frames, trim work, etc.

The first thing I would do is check with your local laws to see how much of a security deposit you can ask for. Back when I rented to the tenants whose cat damaged my rental, we were only allowed to ask for 1 months rent as security deposit. The law has changed here and there is no longer a limit.

If I ever rented to someone with a pet again I would require 2 months rent as a security deposit (1 month's for the people and 1 for the pet) AND charge a monthly pet rent as well. But I hope I never have to rent to someone with pets again. It's just not worth the risk to me any more. I would be even more cautious if I was going to live in the same building as you do.

This post was edited by newbuyer2007 on Mon, Mar 10, 14 at 16:27

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 4:04PM
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Another thing to consider is to make a surprise visit to the applicant's current rental and see how their animals behave and how the rental looks and smells. You can also ask current neighbors how the pet(s) have behaved and if they have seen or heard any problems.

And remember, the 2nd to the last landlord's opinion is much more valuable than the current landlord's. Current landlords might give a good recommendation just to get rid of a bad tenant.

I think the month to month lease idea above is a good one, too.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 4:11PM
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Some dogs are just barkers and the only way you can stop them is with a special dog collar or surgery. We rarely rented to pet owners. The few times we did it was not a good situation. The cat sprayed everything and the other ended up with 2 white long haired dogs that was being kept in the apartment while the owner lived and took care of her grandmother. She also had litter after litter of pups.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 11:52PM
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Funny, we rented a house after we sold ours before moving back to Ontario. We rented from a vet who only wanted people with pets because his previous tenants had had very disruptive children who caused considerable damage. But children are not chattels - pets are.

We should be living in a condo but we aren't because we have a dog - and used to have more than a few.

Dogs are going to bark at certain things - and frankly you can't always blame them.

We used to live in a semi detached house. The people on the other side of us decided they did not need an alarm system because if our dogs barked at night there was something seriously wrong because nothing was going to disturb our guys' sleep.

I think it just depends on who you rent to - there are pros and cons with pets and/or people.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 5:39PM
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I've only rented with cats, but in buildings that allowed dogs. Many had a weight limit for the dogs--say 25 or 30 pounds.

In my experience, really small dogs can be very, very yappy. Constantly yappy. It's a quieter bark than a German Shepherd's, for example, but it is still a bark.

I stopped living in large apartment buildings that allowed dogs because despite rules to the contrary, many of the dog owners "walked" their dogs along the front walk and parking lot and never picked up the poop. The urine smell on hot summer days was disgusting.

I would say meet the owners of the pet. See how they stack up as reliable people. Meeting the dog in their current home is a great idea. You'll at least get a feel for how much it barks when a stranger comes to the door, and how well the owners have the dog under control.

The idea of renting month to month is also a good one. Do carefully check the laws in your state regarding this. But you could offer to rent to tenants with a dog on a month to month basis. Usually, all you have to do is give the tenant 30 days notice that you will not be renewing their tenancy, and they have to leave. You could give them a 3 month trial on a month to month lease, and then, if the dog is quiet, offer them a year long lease. And you can make it a stipulation in the lease that they can't get another dog while they are tenants in your apartment. That way, they can't move in and then get another dog that is a barker.

These days, I tend to rent from small landlords that own one or two rental properties. I arrange to meet them and see the apartment, and show them that I will be a good responsible tenant. Then I tell them I have two well-behaved cats that would be moving with me. I offer to get a vet certificate for them and to pay an additional pet security deposit. This has always worked for me.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 2:59PM
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I don't think pets and rental go together very well sorta like electerisity and water.... either the LL suffers damage/issues or the poor animal suffers de clawing debarking/ect. being taken away by animal control. not to say it doesn't always fail, I know people who rent and they would never leave their pets behind. But just like when you plug in an water soaked outlet you don't always die from shock, but the potentional for shock is there.

Best IMHO to wait until you have a house and own your own home.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 9:14AM
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