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by Eric Gossett

tenants hide their petsA renter friend of mine is afraid of her landlord.  He doesn’t approve of her two cats.  The lease prohibits pets.  “The maintenance man came over for an inspection or whatnot,” she explains. “I didn’t think he would say anything but he told the landlord about the cats.”  Later, she received a threatening call from the landlord.  She felt she had to do something.  So, she called her mom.

Her mother in turn called up the landlord and claimed that both cats are in fact living with her and they only came over for a visit with the daughter.  The mom was furious with the landlord, and adamant about it,  and the landlord just let it be and decided that it was okay to bring a pet over for a visit once in awhile. Pretty much impossible to prove otherwise, unless they install a hidden camera or hire a private eye or such, right?

I once lived in a pet-free building.  After I rented the apartment, I ended up with two cats.  Whenever the landlord would call and say that she wanted to pay a visit, I used to take the cats, their toys, the litter box, and all the cat paraphernalia out to my car and have a friend babysit them, and make sure they weren’t too hot or thirsty.  They were never out there for more than an hour or so.  The landlord accidentally did find the cats once, but she didn’t even mention it — lol, after all that sneakiness.

Is your tenant hiding a pet? Learn how to terminate your tenant’s lease.

People will do everything from hiding animals in the closets or cupboards to sneaking them across the hall to the neighbor’s place (I’ve been asked to do this at least once this year).  Most tenants choose cats (and other miscellaneous rodents like rabbits, rats, etc.,) because they generally make much less noise, don’t need to be walked outside, and are much easier to hide.

The tenants who want dogs wake up at the crack of dawn before the leasing office opens and either walk the dog or hide it in their car and take it to work.  They wait for the cover of darkness to bring it back inside.

This seems to be the general sum up of the way the average renter thinks about the pet situation:  Even if the landlord restricts pets, it’s easy enough to say “No, I don’t have a pet (yet)”, or “I didn’t know and my girlfriend wanted to get a dog”, and you can pretty much get away with it. But, if you make the mistake of ASKING to have a pet, and the landlord says NO, you have been properly notified that you cannot.

Bottom line is that every landlord is different.  Even when they say no pets, that doesn’t mean they will necessarily do anything about it.  When a tenant is looking for a place, they are only thinking about the location and the price, and they know they need to get a place that’s close to work or school, and maybe this is the only place available that they can afford.  They tend to gloss over the part about pets.

A landlord who is bothered by it may have to make a choice — get tougher with property inspections and kick out each and every tenant who gets a pet (you may be surprised how many there are), or deal with the pet but charge any damage to the security deposit — ouch!

Eric Gossett is a freelance writer,  and frequent renter.

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