Q: The tenants in our rental property have always paid on time and take good care of the property. We just discovered they got a dog, even though we were clear that we do not allow pets. What should we do? — Norman
A: Whenever you have to deal with an issue about a lease, your first step is to carefully review the agreement to see what it says about the situation.
If the lease says no pets are allowed, then your tenants are in breach of the contract. Before taking your next step, you need to consider a few other things.
Does your community association allow pets, and if so, do they allow this breed and size of dog? If your tenants are breaking community rules along with the lease, your options are much more limited. The pet will need to go, either with or without your tenants, before your association fines you.
Your first option is to speak with your tenant and let them know they are in breach of the lease. Most people know that not paying the rent will get them evicted, but less realize that breaking other, non-monetary, terms can also lead to eviction.
If they do not agree to remove the pet, your next step is to give them written notice that if they continue not to follow the lease, it will be terminated. The notice should follow the specific form and timing found in the landlord-tenant statute.
If the required time, typically seven days, goes by and their fur baby is still in residence, you can terminate the lease and start eviction proceedings.
Before you evict an otherwise great tenant, you should consider other alternatives. For example, you could speak to them about amending the lease to allow pets but require them to pay a pet deposit in case of damage and pay for the deep cleaning needed after they eventually move out.
These days most people have a pet, support or service animal, so I advise my landlord clients they should get used to the idea of tenants having furry friends and plan accordingly.©2021 South Florida Sun Sentinel. Visit at sun-sentinel.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.