How to write a pet addendum

Pets are a staple of the American household. For many, owning a cat or dog is one of the best feelings in the world. Over half of households in the US have pets according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. As a landlord, it is a difficult decision on whether you should allow your tenants to have pets on the property or not. Knowing a little bit about pet addendums and how to write one out will help ease your stress while making that decision.

If you are not allowing pets in your rental properties you are missing out on a large number of good applicants. By allowing pets you could increase your pool of tenants, but you still need to protect your investment. Pets can do some real damage to your property and if you don’t have a really well-written pet addendum in your lease, you could be stuck with the bill.

What is a Pet Addendum?

A Pet Addendum, also known as a Pet Agreement, is a legal and binding contract between a landlord and their tenant allowing them to have pets on the rental property. The Pet Addendum is a set of written expectations that the landlord and tenant agree to when it comes to the pet or pets that will be staying on the property with the tenant. Both the landlord and the tenant have to agree and sign the contract for it to be enforceable. Once the contract has been signed by both parties, everything in it can be enforced.

Should you allow pets in your properties?

Allowing pets in your home can make your rental more desirable than others because most don’t allow pets. This comes with a lot of risk though, let’s look at some of the advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages

The largest advantage of accepting pets is attracting more possible tenants which can help you find a better overall tenant. There are simply less people who want to rent without a pet than with a pet. This can give your rental business an edge!

An additional advantage would be receiving extra income in the form of a non-refundable pet deposit or monthly pet fee.

You will also most likely have lower turnover since the tenants will have a harder time finding a new place that accommodates their pets. Apparently Tenants with pets stay in their homes two and a half times longer than those without pets.

Disadvantages

Damage is the primary reason pets are not allowed in most rental properties. Pets can cause tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage to your rental property; tearing up doors, baseboards, flooring, and covering your house with the smell of urine.

Pets can also cause your neighbors to raise complaints about noise, odors, or injury. As the landlord, you may begin getting angry calls from the neighbors and have to deal with that.

How do we write a clause that says no pets?

Once you decide that pets are not right for your rental property, it is important to include a clause in your lease agreement that says “No Pets”.

It should be an easy task to add this clause to any standard lease. A solid Pet Addendum should contain 3 main parts.

Part One

This part Forbids any pets on the property regardless of if they are temporary or permanent.

Part Two

The second part will state what actions you will take as the landlord in the case of a violation. These actions can include additional fees, potential evictions, etc.

Part Three

Lastly, this part will clearly state that you plan to charge the tenant for any costs incurred in the case of a violation of this “No pet” clause. This allows you to potentially recoup any legal fees etc.

NO PETS ALLOWED. No pets, whether the lesseeā€™s or not, are permitted anywhere on the property, even temporarily, without the prior written approval of the Lessor.If a pet is found on the property, the Lessor may take any or all of the following actions:

Declare the tenant to be in violation of the lease agreement and begin eviction proceedings accordingly
Charge the lessee an additional rent of $10 per day until the pet is removed
Remove and turn over the pet to the proper authorities after providing written notice of intention to do so
Lessee will also be charged for any damages caused by the unauthorized pet and for any removal costs.

You have to be consistent when it comes to a “No pet” clause. If you didn’t have a “No pet” clause in the original lease but add it in the lease renewal you may find the court siding with the tenant. Also, if you don’t enforce the clause and then attempt to enforce it later, you could find your clause un-enforceable in that case too.

Service and Support Animals

Special needs animals are a whole other category. They are not considered pets under most laws.

You are generally not allowed to deny an applicant because they have a service animal. Be prepared to make reasonable accommodations for tenants with service animals.

It is definitely best to consult an attorney with any questions about service animals as it is a protected class and different jurisdictions have different laws.

How do we write a clause that allows pets

Pet Screening

You should think of the pet or pets as an applicant. Each pet should have their own Pet Addendum filled out by the tenant. I found an example of a Pet Addendum on RentPrep.com. This is obviously a very basic document, and you can adjust it according to your situation, and experiences.

Basic Information

Start with the basics. You want to make sure that you have the address to the property, the date the addendum took place, and what document is being amended here.

Pet Agreement Guidelines

Once you have established the when and where on the document, now it is time to get information on the pet itself. Here you can get as much information on the pet as you need; Pet type, name, breed, color, gender, age, weight, etc.

This is also where you list what you expect from your tenant regarding the pet or pets in question.

  • Conditional Pet Authorization where you make it clear that each pet has to be considered separately and can be refused for any reason you deem appropriate.
  • Monthly pet Rent if applicable.
  • Pet should not annoy other tenants or neighbors.
  • Liability for damage and costs – pet will not damage the property.
    • The landlord is not responsible for damages caused by the pet.
    • PET DAMAGE OF ANY KIND IS NOT CONSIDERED NORMAL WEAR AND TEAR.
  • Pet removal is sometimes necessary if you feel like the pet is being neglected or harmed in any way. Make sure to specify the circumstances that may cause you to remove the pet.
  • Tenant is required to follow any laws regarding keeping and leashing the pet
  • Pet restrictions like prohibiting certain animals or breeds
  • Violation fees that will help discourage any violation of the contract.
  • No limit liability
  • Special provisions for specific types of animals may include but are not limited to things like animal weight and size, or requesting adequate insurance for an aquarium over 20 gallons.
    • For example, Full-grown dogs must be under 20 pounds.

All of these examples are situational and will depend on your property, where it is located, and what your preferences are.

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