Can I Make My Tenant Take Better Care of His Dog?

by Chris on April 2, 2012

Q: I have a tenant that I did allow to have a dog. He appears to be bordering on neglecting the animal. Do I have the right to say something to him about taking better care of his dog? TVS Landlord

There definitely are advantages to allowing pets in the your rental property. For one thing, it provides you with a larger pool of rental applicants because a majority of renters like having pets.

Unfortunately, there are some down sides to allowing pets in rentals, as you are discovering.

When you decide to allow pets, it is always a good idea to include any pet rules in your lease and discuss your expectations with your tenants.  The first thing for you to do is to review your lease and find out if this situation is covered.

Chances are, the lease will not cover the day-to-day care of the dog. If anything, the language probably just says that the dog can’t be disruptive, or must be vaccinated. Occasionally, you will see something in a lease that says the animal must be in good health.  If that kind of language is in your lease, run with it.

If there is no language in the lease that applies here,  then take a look at your local city ordinances, county or state laws regarding pets.  Is there a law defining animal neglect? Does this situation fall within the scope of that law?

You make the point that the animal’s condition is borderline.  That makes it more difficult to see the justification for going to your tenant as his landlord and suggesting that he is neglecting his pet.   The situation may be different if the dog’s health is jeopardizing the rights or safety of other tenants or their pets, or if other tenants are complaining to you about the dog’s condition.

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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

B. Vickers April 3, 2012 at 9:13 am

I request references on the pet from former landlords before allowing it. Works for me!

Jonathan April 3, 2012 at 9:52 am

I had a situation where the tenant wasn’t picking up after the dog. I told him that it was a health and safety issue, and that the feces must be cleaned up as soon as practicable (the neighbors were complaining about the smell). I did this verbally, then followed it up in writing. I definitely use “animal” provision language (tenant is responsible for the actions of their pets) in the lease.

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