Can you evict a tenant for owning a pet?

On Behalf of | Jul 28, 2020 | Landlord/Tenant Matters

Pet ownership in America ranges in the millions as people add dogs, cats and other animals to their families. The Insurance Information Institute notes that nearly 70 percent of people own a pet, but what happens when you have a tenant that brings an animal home to his or her rented apartment without permission?

You may consider eviction as an answer to this issue; however, before you proceed, it is important that you review your lease with the tenant and understand whether you have the legal right to terminate it for unauthorized pet ownership.

Discuss tenant/renter agreements

If you discover that your renter brought a pet into a rented apartment or home without notifying you, the first step to take is to refer to the lease he or she signed. If you included a section regarding pet deposits or a clause that refers to a no-pets policy, you may have the right to begin eviction proceedings against your tenant.

Discuss the nature of the pet

Your tenant’s pet may double as a service animal, and under federal law, these animals are allowed to live with their owners without any restrictions imposed by you as the landlord. Dogs are the most common type of service animal and may assist their owners with a variety of tasks or prevent panic attacks and epileptic seizures. You may want to ask your tenant if he or she has papers that certify the dog as an officially trained service animal.

Over sixty million households in the U.S. include a dog. While you may have certain restrictions in place concerning animals at your rental, it is wise to review your lease agreement and other documents before proceeding with an eviction.