How to Handle Unauthorized Pets as a Property Manager
Many good property managers and rental property owners recognize that allowing pets onto a property can help attract good tenants, and keep good tenants in the property for a longer length of time. However, even property managers that allow animals will occasionally find themselves dealing with unauthorized pets. Regardless of their pet policy, professional property mangers will be prepared to handle such situations when they arise.
Unauthorized pets are usually discovered by management during routine inspections or when handling repairs. Sometimes they are spotted and reported by neighbors. They can come in many different forms, from unregistered pets or prohibited breeds or sizes or too many pets, to pets in properties that prohibit them altogether. When unauthorized pets are found, a property manager must be prepared to handle them both professionally and legally.
The first thing a property manager must do when dealing with unauthorized pets is remember that their tenant is likely bonded with the animal and that removing the pet is going to be emotional. Property managers need to enforce the terms of the lease and follow legal procedures to help their tenant handle their lease violation, but they should remain compassionate while doing so.
When an unauthorized pet is discovered property owners or managers need to send the tenant an official notice outlining the lease violation and the timeline that they have to fix the problem. Timelines need to be based on state laws and the pet policy in the tenant’s lease. In some states tenants can be given as few as 24 hours to remove the pet while in others, a tenant is allowed 3-7 days to remedy the problem.
After a tenant has been served notice of their lease violation, property managers must remind them that if they fail to fix the issue within the timeline given, they will be evicted. Tenants should also be reminded that they are responsible for any damages caused by unauthorized pets.
Always use official notices and follow formal procedures when dealing with unauthorized pets, as tenants are more likely to take such communication seriously.
Skilled property managers such as Martin Feinberg know to always review their pet policies with all tenants at lease signing to ensure there is no misunderstanding. By remaining professional and understanding local and state laws, property managers and investment property owners can keep tenants happy while taking their responsibilities seriously.