I recently visited the Los Angeles City East Valley Animal Shelter and learned quite a bit about Pets in Rental Housing for Landlords. Furry friends in a rental can be an area of tension between tenants and landlords, but it doesn’t have to be! As a landlord, you can quickly fill vacancies, gain a little extra income from pet fees, and tenant who own pets tend to stay longer in the same rental (an average of 18 months in LA). Alongside the pros, you may run into some cons. Under the unfortunate circumstances of your tenants having nuisance pets, here are some tips for taking care of the issues:   

  1. Act quickly! A landlord who waits too long to take action may forfeit their right to object.
  2. Refer to the lease agreement your tenant signed. If, for example, you have a no pet clause and a tenant has snuck in a pet, you have to right to ask the tenant to either find alternative housing for the pet, or they must leave with the pet within a certain amount of time or you may have the right to serve them an eviction notice.
  3. Be careful when keeping out all animals. It is legal to have a no pet clause in your property lease. It is however, illegal to deny a tenant with a disability or special needs the right to have their Service or Support Animal. The Federal Fair Housing Act requires landlords make "reasonable accommodations" for tenants with special needs and disabilities. The law still allows landlords to enforce reasonable regulations in the lease such as, dog owners are held liable for any damage caused to the property.
  4. Let's say you do allow pets, but you start having issues with a tenant's animal. If another tenant has been bitten by a neighbor's dog, complained about an animal causing damages, or is disturbed by noise, foul odors and such, the animal then becomes a nuisance. Be sure to document each incident in as much detail as possible. Include times, dates, locations, and parties involved. Build your case and present it to the tenant who owns the animal to be held accountable. The first offense may result in a writen warning. The second offense may result in charging the tenant a fee or paying for damages. If the incidents continute to occur after this, you may require removal of the pet or have the right to serve them an eviction notice.
  5. In the end it is ultimately up to you to decide if you would like to work out an agreement with your tenants to allow them to bring in a pet. If you like your tenant and trust them, consider writing in a pets clause in their lease agreement. In the agreement, detail your right to have routine access to your property to check up on cleanliness, pet's behavior, or other concerns. Make sure it documents any pet fees, or insurance policies as well. Doing so will help you build a trustworthy relationship with your tenants and their pets.

Know your rights as a landlord. For more information on fair housing and your rights visit the
Housing Right Center here

For information regarding pets and animals, visit the Los Angeles Animal Services here.

Posted by Ben Nicolas on
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