What Should You Include in Your Apartment Pet Policy?

Allowing pets into your apartment complex has its benefits and drawbacks. For instance, you open up a whole new sector of people looking to rent, which is pet owners.  But on the other hand, you also have to contend with pets who may not be socialized, or pets who are destructive. 

In this particular article, we are going to talk about ways you can write an effective pet policy or pet lease addendum and include things like apartment pet policy breed restrictions as well. 

One Important Thing…

One important piece we would like to discuss right away is the best practice of having your policy reviewed by a real estate lawyer Montreal so that you are absolutely certain it is compliant with your local laws and regulations.  

Doing this will help you not only write a fair policy but also aid in keeping you out of trouble with the legality of your policy. 

What’s in a Policy? 

The contents of a pet policy vary, so we looked at a sample to get an idea.  The policy laid out in plain terms what the pet owner should expect to do when they decide to bring a pet to the apartment complex. Let’s sum it up: 

  • Any Tenant/Prospective tenant wishing to house a pet will inform the management. 
  • A rider for pets is to be signed immediately.
  • All pets will be kept for pleasure and include birds, dogs, cats, fish, turtles, birds, rodents and fish. There will be no more than 2 of the following: cats and dogs. 
  • The pet’s size is not limited, but owners have to control them.
  • All male cats and dogs must be neutered. All female cats and dogs must be spayed. If your pet cannot be spayed or neutered, a veterinarian’s note is needed as to why in order to for the pet to reside at the complex. 
  • Pets must be on leashes when outside the owner’s apartment while on development property. (You may alter this if your complex has a dog park). 
  • Pet owners will be held responsible for damages. It is advised pet owners obtain insurance; however, it is understood this is not always feasible for a large number of tenants. Therefore, it may be required to pay a sum for each cat or dog of $100 or $150 in apartments with carpe. A plan can be made to pay the pet deposit in instalments. 
  • Pet owners will provide contact info of a person who will take over caring for the pet in the event the owner is unable to do so as well as the contact info for the veterinarian who handles the animal’s health. If the owner cannot provide this information, he or she will make other arrangements for the care of the pet in the event of an emergency. He or she will also notify the main office of said arrangements. 

There is much, much more to the agreement than that and we encourage you to search for other sample condo pet policy or check the one we linked above to get a basic idea. 

Can a Landlord Change Pet Policy?

Landlords can absolutely change a pet policy, but not in the middle of a lease.  It is important that you always stay consistent with your pet policy, because if you do not, you could be cited in violation of the Fair Housing Act. 

Also keep in mind that service animals are unrestricted. A tenant that produces a doctor’s note indicating their pet aids them in some aspect of their physical or mental health cannot be denied a spot based upon the size of their animal or breed. A landlord may not charge extra rents or even a pet deposit for service animals. 

On the other hand, if an existing tenant decides to get a pet that is not allowed, then they can be evicted.  Of course, be sure you review the policy with your legal team to make sure the wording in it indicates that a violation of the pet policy is grounds to be evicted. 

I Am Interested in No Pets Policy Renting. How Do I Go About It?

Constructing a no pet policy lease agreement is possible, and you should absolutely consult with your lawyer to construct a great policy. As we mentioned, you must always make sure you are enforcing these policies.  Bear in mind there are also some cases in which a landlord may NOT be able to enforce a no-pets policy if the pet is already residing in the apartment and the following are true:

  • The landlord attempts to add a no-pets clause to the rental agreement, or
  • The landlord tries to enforce a no-pets clause already existing after knowing but not doing anything about a tenant’s pet for a long period of time, or
  • The landlord allowed the tenant to have a pet no matter the lease agreement, or
  • The tenant proves the animal is necessary for health reasons, e.g. a service animal.

Renting Smart to Pet Owners

There are a few things you can do as a landlord to get your apartment pet-friendly if you choose to allow them. Here are just a few ideas: 

  • Construct a questionnaire that asks about the pet, whether or not it is vaccinated, and if the pet has ever caused property damage before. Make sure the prospective tenant submits it for review. 
  • Meet the animal in person and see how he or she acts before you allow them in your building. 
  • Charge a pet deposit that is refundable. 
  • Be clear about what pets and breeds are allowed. Also clearly indicate the number of pets allowed, too. 
  • Be clear in your expectations with the owners. 

Wrapping It Up

The important takeaways of this article are that being fair, being consistent, and being up-front with your prospective tenants are the best practices to adopt when you are considering their application. 

Make sure you review all policies with your attorney ahead of time, so they are fair, enforceable, and compliant-this way everyone knows just what to expect.

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