An eviction due to pets follows the standard protocol of a lease violation. Nonetheless, there may be strong emotions involved in the process. On a long enough timescale, a landlord will encounter a tenant who violates their no-pet policy. It’s not unusual for tempers to flare during this encounter. If your tenant has violated a no-pet policy, you have several options at your disposal.
If you are having trouble with a tenant who has violated the no-pet policy in their lease agreement, contact the law firm of Rogers & Rogers, Esq at (718) 866-3298 or online via our contact form to schedule a free consultation. We can help you manage unruly tenants and if need be, begin the eviction process.
Eviction Due to Pets and Your Lease Agreement
Many landlords establish a no-pets policy in one form or another. Even those who allow pets on the premises may restrict the number of pets or the breed of certain larger dogs. They may have a weight limit in terms of the size of dogs. None of these are out of the ordinary.
What is out of the ordinary is for landlords to state clearly in the lease agreement what the consequences will be for violating their no-pets policy. Your lease agreement should clearly state:
- What, specifically, your pet policy is,
- And what the penalty is for violating the policy.
If you have a blanket no-pets policy and the penalty for that is eviction, then the lease agreement should clearly state that. If a tenant then decides they want to bring home a pet, they are in breach of contract and you, as their landlord, are legally clear to proceed with an eviction.
Most landlords do not, however, want to evict their tenants. Often, they will give the tenants an opportunity to remove the pet from the premises. Some landlords opt to charge their tenants fines for violating the terms of their lease. This is fine so long as the lease agreement clearly states their terms.
It’s imperative for landlords to stick to the strictures of their lease agreements.
What to Do If a Tenant Violates Your Pet Policy
If your tenant has violated your pet policy, you’ll want to gather evidence. Some tenants, however, will play cat and mouse with their pets. In other words, they’ll try to hide evidence of the pet when the landlord is around. In that case, it helps to have other tenants who will provide evidence for you. Photographic evidence, however, is best.
You will then want to inform the tenant that they are in violation of the lease. This can include a threat of a possible eviction due to pets being specifically prohibited by the lease agreement. It’s best to use an official notice form. It will help if the eviction has to go to court. Your attorney will prepare what is called the Notice to Cure. You should have this done as soon as you discover the pet as in NYS there is a time period during which you can sue. Once the time expires you are out of luck.
Official forms will state the reason for the notice, the lease agreement that the tenant has violated, and the consequences for not taking remedial action immediately. If that means eviction, then you must state that specifically.
Official Notices for an Unauthorized Pet
When confronting a tenant on a lease violation, it’s imperative to do so formally. Calling, texting, or confronting the tenant in person will not work in NYC. Getting into a shouting match with an unruly tenant or initiating an eviction out of anger or without having your ducks in a row could set the process back.
You’re not looking to engage in a dialog. You’re looking to serve a notice. That is best done in writing and leaves a paper trail for the court to follow. Be aware also that once the pet has been removed the tenant is allowed to remain. This is true in all cases where the problem can be cured.
Service Animals and Unauthorized Pets
A service animal is not considered a pet and under the Fair Housing Act and denying an individual who qualifies for a service animal an apartment would be considered housing discrimination. A landlord is expected to make reasonable accommodations for such an individual.
Service animals, on the other hand, are also well trained. They don’t behave like pets. Nonetheless, a no-pets policy won’t apply to service animals. They’re even allowed in restaurants. Therefore, a landlord cannot collect a pet deposit for a service animal nor restrict a breed based on type or weight. Landlords can, however, ask for documentation from a healthcare provider.
Call Rogers & Rogers, Esq for Eviction Services
If you need to initiate an eviction due to pets, call Rogers & Rogers, Esq and we’ll ensure the process is started correctly.