Renting With Pets Laws

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 How Can I Find Pet-Friendly Housing?

Pet-friendly housing is living accommodations that allow tenants to keep pets, typically without any restrictions or with specific guidelines in place. Pet-friendly housing may include apartments, houses, or condos where pets are welcomed, and the property has the necessary space to cater to the needs of pets and their owners.

To find pet-friendly housing, you can do the following:

  • Search online platforms like Zillow, Trulia, and Craigslist, which often have filters to search for pet-friendly properties.
  • Contact local real estate agents who may have access to pet-friendly listings.
  • Reach out to your local animal shelters and rescue organizations, as they may have connections to pet-friendly landlords.
  • Use social media to get recommendations from fellow pet owners.
  • Ask different property management companies about their pet policies.

The Fair Housing Act does not specifically cover the right to live with pets. However, it does protect people with disabilities who rely on service dogs or emotional support animals. In these cases, housing providers must make reasonable accommodations for the animals, even in “no pets” properties.

What if My Contract Stated “No Pets,” but My Landlord Said Pets Were Allowed?

If your contract states “no pets,” but your landlord verbally told you that pets are allowed, it might be time to review your legal rights.

A written lease agreement typically supersedes any verbal agreements. To protect yourself, you should get a written statement from the landlord that says pets are allowed and add it to the lease as an addendum. If you have evidence of your landlord’s verbal agreement, such as emails or text messages, keep those as documentation in case of any disputes.

Can a Landlord Permit Certain Types of Pets but Ban Others?

A landlord has the right to allow certain types of pets and ban others as long as they are not in violation of any federal, state, or local laws. Landlords can restrict certain breeds of dogs, setting size limits or allowing only specific types of animals like cats or fish.

You need to be on the same page with your landlord about their pet policy. Violating the terms could lead to eviction for a few of the following reasons:

  1. Breach of Contract: If you sign a lease that explicitly outlines the pet policy, and you violate it by keeping an unauthorized pet or breaking the pet-related rules, you are in breach of your lease agreement. This breach gives the landlord grounds to initiate eviction proceedings.
  2. Nuisance: If your pet causes damage to the property, disturbs neighbors, or creates an unsafe environment, the landlord may consider it a nuisance. In such cases, the landlord can issue a warning or even initiate eviction proceedings, especially if the issue persists despite warnings or attempts to resolve it.
  3. Non-payment of pet fees: If your landlord requires a pet deposit, pet rent, or any other fees related to your pet, failure to pay these fees could be considered a violation of the lease terms and could lead to eviction.

The following can help you avoid eviction due to pet-related issues:

  1. Read and understand the pet policy outlined in your lease agreement.
  2. Discuss any questions or concerns with your landlord before signing the lease and moving in with your pet.
  3. Obtain written permission if you need to deviate from the lease’s pet policy or if you plan to bring in a new pet.
  4. Keep your pet well-behaved, clean, and supervised to prevent property damage or disturbances to neighbors.

What About Renting a House With Multiple Pets?

Renting a house with multiple pets may be more challenging, as some landlords may limit the number of pets allowed. However, you can increase your chances of finding suitable housing by providing a pet resume, offering additional pet deposits or pet rent, and getting references from previous landlords or neighbors who can attest to your pets’ good behavior.

What Are Some Common Conditions on Pet Policies?

Common conditions and limitations on pet policies often include the following:

  1. Type of pet: Landlords may limit which types of pets are allowed, such as cats, dogs, or small caged animals. They may also ban certain breeds or species.
  2. The number of pets: Landlords may limit the number of pets allowed per unit.
  3. Size and weight restrictions: Some pet policies set size or weight limits, particularly for dogs.
  4. Pet deposit or pet rent: Landlords may require an additional deposit or monthly fee to cover potential pet-related damages.
  5. Vaccinations and licenses: Tenants may be required to provide proof of their pet’s vaccinations and local licenses.
  6. Spaying/neutering: Some pet policies require pets to be spayed or neutered.
  7. Noise and behavior: Landlords may have rules about pet behavior, such as excessive barking, and may require pets to be leashed or controlled in common areas.

What if the Pet Policy Changes After Move-In?

If the pet policy changes after move-in, your rights will depend on the terms of your lease agreement.

If your lease clearly outlines the pet policy, the landlord cannot change the policy until the lease is up for renewal.

If you have a month-to-month lease, the landlord must provide proper notice (usually 30 days) before changing the pet policy.

If they fail to provide you with adequate notice, it could be a violation of your lease agreement, and you may have legal options.

In this situation, consider speaking with a real estate attorney who can review your lease agreement and advise you on your legal rights. They may recommend that you communicate with your landlord and remind them of their obligations under the lease agreement. Suppose your landlord continues to ignore the notice requirement. In that case, your attorney may suggest taking legal action, such as filing a complaint with a government agency or pursuing a lawsuit in court.

What if I Have a Disability and My Pet Is an “Assistive Animal”?

Suppose you have a disability and your pet is an “assistive animal,” such as a service animal or an emotional support animal. In that case, you are protected under federal disability discrimination laws, specifically the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The FHA requires housing providers to make reasonable accommodations for those with disabilities, which includes allowing assistive animals even in “no pets” properties.

For more information, you can visit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s website here.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

If you and your landlord have issues with your pet, you may need a landlord-tenant lawyer to help you.

LegalMatch is an online legal matching service that can connect you with local attorneys who handle real estate law cases. If you are having issues with your landlord related to your pet, LegalMatch can help you find a qualified real estate lawyer to answer your legal questions.

To use LegalMatch, you will need to complete a brief online questionnaire that describes your legal issue, including details about your pet and your landlord. Once you submit your questionnaire, LegalMatch’s system will match you with local attorneys who have experience in real estate law and have indicated that they are interested in taking on your case.

You can then review the attorneys’ profiles and credentials on our website, which includes their education, work experience, and client reviews.

Use LegalMatch today to find a qualified real estate lawyer who can help you with the legal issues related to your pet and your landlord.

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