A landlord’s number one enemy is vacancy! Sometimes you have to bend a little to get the place filled. Here is the age old question: To lease or not to lease to a pet owner?
It is getting harder and harder to find a tenant without dogs. In fact, in my experience, over half of the tenants I have leased to at my multiplex have had dogs or cats (cats are 2 for 2 on the success side). Interestingly, only half of pet owning tenants have left my place in great shape at the end of the lease! The most aggravating thing about people with pets is that for the most part, they are the STRONGEST applicants. I’m talking 700 credit scores and $70,000 combined income good!
Today is a special story about a tenant and her dog, more specifically, a Pit Bull that she snuck in! But first a little history…
History: Two Not So Awesome Pet Stories
- When I first purchased the building, there was a tenant who snuck in a baby Pit Bull. At the time I was oblivious to the dangers of having such an animal (tremendous legal liability, Insurance companies do not cover most large dogs!). And besides this 1lb creature looked harmless. Well eventually, this baby turned into a “Sand-Lot” sized monster. Worst yet, its’ owner left him locked in the laundry room for extended periods. I’m not sure what the tenant was doing when that dog was locked up, but he certainly wasn’t working on my rent (that’s another story). I had no knowledge that the dog was being locked into the laundry room, and personally never witnessed it. However, the evidence was there 3 months later when I evicted the tenant. When I opened the laundry door I saw a hole the size of a dog in my sheetrock. The dog almost ate and clawed his way through the ENTIRE wall. I wish that I had a picture to share. I will make it a point to take pictures in the future of such fond memories.FROM THIS:
- Also early in my Land-lording career, my property manager (before I wised up and did my own management), leased one of my units to a budding early twenties couple. This couple had a large mutt dog. I was dealing with 2 vacant units at the time (an unusual occurrence). The carpet was already in pretty bad shape and they agreed to take it as is at full rent price. It seemed like a win-win. They were there for a solid 15 months before things turned sour. The couples relationship ended, as did the need to pay rent and apparently clean the apartment. When they moved out…the place smelled terrible. There was literally dog crap on the ground. I made it a point to rip the carpet up myself in order to learn never to lease to a person with a large dog again.
BONUS: Collection Win!
On a side note, I contacted the Dad of the kid who left my place in such a mess through a letter. I included pictures of the dog shit for his viewing pleasure. The Dad called me and profusely apologized. He made some angry remark and about how he “couldn’t wait to get his hands on his son”. He then proceeded to ask me how much it cost to clean the place and asked me what he owed in full. It came out to a tidy sum of $1100. I received a check in the mail 3 days later. This just goes to show you that you can truly make money in mysterious ways in this business. To this date, that was the most money I ever made for a 10 minutes invested and a $0.48 cent stamp. Think of the return on investment!!
Enter December 2014:
Fast forward to present and here we are again! I allowed my tenant to have a small weenie dog when she started her leased. I leased my place in 3 days for the highest rent I have achieved yet, $825. Better yet she was an awesome applicant and professional. I was also just off a pretty expensive renovation (new paint/carpet, etc). I was happy and all was good.
Six months later she had a pitbull in the back of car and wanted to share her joy of her dog with me in the parking lot of my 4plex. I wasn’t in a joyful mood. I immediately told her that the dog had to get off the property. I asked her if she had it inside, which she denied.
Her lease continued without problem. At the end of the 1 year period she decided to go month to month at a premium rate. When we got to December, I saw that she had not one pitbull, but TWO in the parking lot of my fourplex on leashes! I knocked on her door a few days later and sure enough there were the two pitbulls, inside my unit!
My lease calls for immediate eviction and/or loss of security deposit. When I questioned her about the dog, she produced a very convincing doctors note. I thought if I filed eviction it would take 2 weeks to get to court, cost $140 and that I may lose. Faced with this dilemma, I went back to my trusty lease and told her that since she was on a month to month lease, that I was giving her a 30 day notice to vacate. SUCCESS!
CONCLUSION: Use a Pet Addendum! No Large Dogs!
In this business, you will encounter pets whether you intend to or not. It is your job as a Landlord to ensure you have a well crafted lease to deal with pets. This includes proper use of a pet addendum. If you allow pets, ensure a sizable deposit. Make sure you specifically site how many pets and what kind. Ensure harsh penalties for violations of your pet provisions.
From my experience, I would lay a hard rule to not allow ANY large dogs in a 4plex. I don’t care how gentle or sweet the owner says the dog is, don’t believe it! A large dog should not be in an apartment, they will create more wear and tear. In addition you expose yourself to a tremendous amount of liability should the dog attack someone. Stick to the small dogs or no dogs to sleep better at night!