Other than a service animal necessary to accommodate a person with a disability, the tenant has no legal right to keep a pet on the premises. A pet is deemed a privilege – not a right, which the landlord can revoke at any time so long as certain processes and procedures are followed.
So here are some tips to consider on how to protect yourself from a tenants pets becoming a nuisance and liability to your property or worse yet, a danger to another tenant.
Treat pets like you would any other potential occupant. This means that as part of the tenant application process, the prospective tenant should provide detailed information about its pet(s) for approval. Have clear standards in your application as to the type of pets that are prohibited and what type of pets will be considered for approval.
Require that the applicant provide a clear picture of its pet(s). Better yet, take the time to see and observe the pet. In other words you should view the screening of a pet as serious as you would any other occupant.
If you deny the applicant based on the pet (or if that is one of several reasons for denial) make sure to document that reason as a cause for denial. However, if you elect to approve the pet, then you should have a specific “pet addendum” providing for certain rights and protection for the landlord and allowing the landlord to charge a pet fee and pet security deposit. If you do charge a deposit make sure to treat the pet security deposit like any other tenant deposit.
A pet should be viewed like any other non compliant occupant. This means that if the pet is misbehaving, disturbing or disorderly, you need to serve the pet owner with a 7 days notice like you would any other tenant. Of course, like a tenant, if the animal is a danger and an immediate threat to other tenants, such as it is attacking or biting other tenants, you most likely do not need to provide any type of warning/seven day notice but can require the immediate removal of the pet. Even an owner of a service animal is responsible for the conduct and behavior of its service animal.
While in general a pet that injures and harms another creates liability for the pet owner/tenant, the law is unclear as to the legal responsibility of the owner of the building. The more procedures an owner/landlord has in place from the application process through an appropriate addendum, the greater the likelihood the owner/landlord can prove it did not act negligently. The owner/landlord should always conduct itself in a manner that shows it is concerned for the safety of its tenants and takes proper precautions to avoid harm to its tenants.
Whether you own a few properties or hundreds of properties in Florida, Octazon Management, LLC is here to bring order and simplify property ownership and management. We can help you manage any and all of your properties. Call us 888-324-9528 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org today.