My Tenant Has a Dog Against The Lease

Happy dog bowl is a very happy hungry eager and excited dog asking to have his meal

What do you do if your tenant has a dog living in your house against the lease?

Many of our owners don’t mind allowing pets and we have a special pet deposit for them in our lease.

But it’s ok if you choose not to allow a dog live in your home because it does have its drawbacks. Some breeds shed constantly (like my Black Lab) and if they’re a puppy, they can have the occasional accident and possibly chew on parts of the house that you’d like to keep their teeth OFF!

In this video, Matthew and I discuss what you do when your tenant has a dog living in your house against the lease.

Full Video Transcript:

Spencer: All right. Spencer Sutton and Matthew Whitaker here with GK houses.We are back to talk about pretty common problems that we have seen over and over.

Matthew: Unfortunately it seems like everybody has a dog these days…It’s just at the end of the day whether they’ve disclosed to you that they have a dog or not.

Spencer: And whether the owner agrees to allow the dog or not. I know I had a rental house. This was several years ago. And I had expressly said no dogs for this house. I had just had the hardwood refinished. It was such a nice house. Probably six months into the lease, I needed to go to the house to talk to the tenant about something.

I didn’t really announce I was going to come by. I was just going to drop by. I was in the area. So I went. I knocked on the door. I’ll never forget about it seemed like 20 but literally it was probably seven little Chihuahua-type dogs came streaming around the corner, barking in the window right by the door. When the tenant left, the hardwoods were totally destroyed.

Now, I didn’t know. What can I do? How can I handle this situation? If I find out that my tenant has dogs against the lease.

Matthew: You just didn’t have a dog owner, you had a dog breeder in your house.

Spencer: Yeah, that’s right.

What Do You Do?

Matthew: Hopefully, that’s not the situation that you find yourself in. But what do you do if you have a dog in there and you absolutely want them out? The first thing I would say is you have a decision to make. This is a decision that we’ve gone both ways on based on the circumstances.

Is this the decision where you want to send them some sort of lease violation letter to let them know that, “Hey, you’re in violation of the lease. I’m going to allow this to go on.” The only reason I would do this is if I felt confident that the tenant would be able to repay anything that was wrong with that house. That may be your correct decision. You may get the most money. One of the things we want to focus on is how do you get the most money in the door?

Spencer: Well, let’s say that happens. Let’s say you send them a letter. At that point do you also say, “I’m going to charge a deposit to have that dog here?” Like in the middle of the lease, is that common?

Matthew: This may be too late for you if you are watching this video. But it may be something you would want to include in the future. That really ought to be addressed in your lease. It’s addressed in our lease. If we find a dog that is in violation, we actually charge them a fine for it, a non-refundable fee immediately for that. Then they also have to give us a pet deposit.

Again, maybe, they got a dog two months, three months. Maybe, they didn’t lie to you on the application. but they, unbeknownst, just got a dog. Then that’s the kind of thing…a lot of it depends on the relationship you have with your tenant. How confident you feel that they are going to be able to pay off whatever happens with that dog.

Spencer: So one option is to send them a letter, allow the dog to stay. Have them pay a fine possibly but definitely a pet deposit.

So What’s Another Option?

Matthew: The other option would be to evict them. This would fall under a material breach of the lease. Because certainly you need to have it in the lease whether they do have pets or they don’t have pets. If you don’t, you may find yourself that they are not in material breach.

If that’s not in your lease, you may be forced to just suck it up and deal with it. Because if it’s not a part of their lease, then you can’t, obviously, evict them. If it is a part of their lease, it’s called a material breach or a breach of the lease for material reasons. This is basically they are in violation of the lease for something other than rent. Then you have to go through the eviction process.

We shot a video on the eviction process. It would start with a seven-day notice. And maybe a seven-day notice would be enough to get them to get rid of the dog. The seven days basically says, “Hey tenant, you’re in violation of the lease, and you have seven days to cure that violation. And if you don’t, I’m going to deem the lease terminated.” But it gives them seven days to get rid of the dog.

Are Certain Breeds Dangerous?

Spencer: Now, let me ask you another question. Not all dogs are created equal, right? In my case, they are small little tiny dogs. I personally have a Labrador at the house. Are there certain types or breeds of dogs that owners should be hesitant to allow in their house?

Matthew: Yeah, that’s a great question. There are types of dogs or breeds of dogs that insurance companies deems dangerous. So you can imagine those that are on there, the Rottweilers, the pit bulls. There’s a list of about 10 or 12. You want to make sure before you even put a tenant with a dog in that that dog isn’t in direct conflict with your homeowners insurance policy. Because if the dog bites a child, if the dog bites anybody, it could come back on you.

Spencer: Meaning your insurance wouldn’t cover it?

Matthew: Correct. We have had incidences where an insurance company will allow a tenant to get renters insurance that actually covers those types of dogs and then they are allowed to move in. The scary thing about that for us is what if they let the insurance lapse?. If a child gets bit by a dog, nobody is going to win. So it’s a very scary thing.

Spencer: Plus we have property managers or maintenance crews that come to these houses. So we want to also look after their safety as well.

Mathew: That’s right, that’s right. We’re big on safety. Only as a last opportunity would we really want one of those violent breed dogs in one of our houses.

Spencer: Anything else we should know?

Matthew: No. I just think it should be something that is best addressed on the front end. I think it’s very important to have this type of information in your lease. If you haven’t leased a house yet, this is a great time to make sure it is a part of your lease. If you find yourself in this situation, you have some decisions to make.

You need to decide based on what your lease says. Is this something I can allow to go on that I think I will get money for in the end if something bad happens? Or, hey they’re already a problem. This would be a good reason to get rid of them.

Spencer: Also, I think if you’re dead set on not allowing a dog into your rental home, have that conversation on the front end. Don’t let it just be a check box on your lease. Have the conversation when the tenant comes to sign the lease to talk about what will happen if a dog is found in the house.