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Unauthorized Pets Leave Their Mark

landlord helpIs it unfair to evict a tenant because her unauthorized feline attacked the landlord?

At least one tenant thinks so.

Recently, a landlord entered an apartment with a maintenance worker to spray for bugs while the tenant was at work. The tenant was hiding two cats in her apartment,  to avoid  paying a pet deposit.

One of the cats jumped out suddenly, and bit the unsuspecting landlord.

The tenant is insisting that the landlord is making it up. She claims the cats are harmless because she has never seen them act aggressively. She blames the maintenance worker for stirring up trouble. This landlord will likely have a fight on his hands when he files his eviction.

But to allow a tenant to remain on the premises with pets, but no pet deposit, is also asking for trouble. There is no way to gauge the extent of damage they may be causing, and the security deposit may not cover it. Other tenants or guests may be the next victims, and that gives rise to landlord liability. Additionally, it sets a bad precedent for other tenants who agree to follow the rules.

In a related story, a landlord shared with us her frustration over damage to her unit from an unauthorized pet. In this case, the tenant came to the landlord to ask a favor: she’d just gotten engaged, and wanted to have her fiance live with her for the last three months of the lease. This was a well-behaved tenant, and being a sucker for a love story, the landlord agreed — without screening the new roomie or having him fill out an application. Or, asking whether he had any pets. He did.

The damage to the carpeting was so severe that at least one room will have to be replaced. She’s tried twice to see whether cleaning the carpets would be enough. When the landlord deducted the costs for odor-mitigation from the security deposit, the tenant sued. The court date is next month. The landlord has six witnesses subpoenaed, and has scheduled the day off work, with no guarantee the judge will agree with her… .

For more on pets, see our feature, Oh Please! Can I Keep ‘Em?

American Apartment Owners Association offers discounts on products and services for landlords related to your rental housing investment, including rental forms, tenant debt collection, tenant background checks, insurance and financing. Find out more at www.joinaaoa.org.

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