Author Topic: Found out tenants violated pet policy after the fact  (Read 1274 times)

Kierun

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Found out tenants violated pet policy after the fact
« on: August 08, 2018, 04:07:59 PM »
Tenants recently moved out and while going through the property there are signs that they were hiding a pet, the pet did some damage to the property.  What avenues of recourse do I have?  Would their security deposit be forfeit for violating the no pet clause? 

nereo

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Re: Found out tenants violated pet policy after the fact
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2018, 05:41:27 PM »
Tenants recently moved out and while going through the property there are signs that they were hiding a pet, the pet did some damage to the property.  What avenues of recourse do I have?  Would their security deposit be forfeit for violating the no pet clause?
what does the renter agreement say?  What "evidence" is there that a pet was residing there?

I don't know the laws surrounding landlords in Hawai'i, but typically if you can show damage to the property that is in excess of normal 'wear and tear' you can withhold the enough for the security deposit to pay for the repairs.

As always, cover your butt - take photos, get a professional quote to repair the damage and put it in writing, saving a copy for your own records.

Kierun

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Re: Found out tenants violated pet policy after the fact
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2018, 05:52:43 PM »
A lot of pet fur in the rug doctor, claw marks on window sill, damaged screens from what looks to be claws, carpet damage by door from what looks like a pet trying to escape room they were kept in.  Have photos.  Agreement states if there was a pet they need to have the property fumigated and carpet cleaned.  Okay, I'll take a look at getting a professional quote, thanks.

Car Jack

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Re: Found out tenants violated pet policy after the fact
« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2018, 08:05:51 AM »
Spend the money on remediation.  Fumigate, get the screen fixed, have anything with claw marks fixed.  Take pictures of everything damaged.  Include the fumigation bill.

On the other side, if you don't have "before" pictures, they're going to claim that "it was like that when we moved in" and without proof, you lose.  So with that in mind, maybe just suck it up and sand and repaint the window sill and do a good vacuum job, then set off a flea bomb as you leave.

radram

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Re: Found out tenants violated pet policy after the fact
« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2018, 08:19:14 AM »
Forget about the pet. The only thing that matters is damages.

Broken screen? charge them for a replacement.
Claw marks on sill? replace the sill.

One big concern:
You are talking as if they are already out, and you are in the process of preparing the place for the next renters. Assuming this, did you do a walk-through with the tenants on the day they left, placing, IN WRITING, the damages you claim they made? In my state(WI), you need to give proper notice regarding claims for damage. If they move out, and then a week later I am claiming all kinds of damage, that is most likely not good enough to satisfy a judge. They need notification at the time they relinquish the property back to the owner.

+1 on before pictures


pressure9pa

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Re: Found out tenants violated pet policy after the fact
« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2018, 08:38:34 AM »
A lot of pet fur in the rug doctor, claw marks on window sill, damaged screens from what looks to be claws, carpet damage by door from what looks like a pet trying to escape room they were kept in.  Have photos.  Agreement states if there was a pet they need to have the property fumigated and carpet cleaned.  Okay, I'll take a look at getting a professional quote, thanks.

Get the quote, but don't be afraid to do some of the cleanup/remediation yourself.  The quote helps establish the market value of the needed repair.  You can deduct from the deposit based upon this, regardless of how the work gets done.

Kierun

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Re: Found out tenants violated pet policy after the fact
« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2018, 10:04:34 AM »
Thanks for all the great advice, I did a walkthrough with one of the tenants the day before lease end but it was verbal and did have a text exchange with one of the tenants that was back on the mainland a week before lease end, so if text counts some of it is in writing.  Good call on before tenant moves in pics.  Thanks all.

robartsd

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Re: Found out tenants violated pet policy after the fact
« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2018, 12:47:26 PM »
Thanks for all the great advice, I did a walkthrough with one of the tenants the day before lease end but it was verbal and did have a text exchange with one of the tenants that was back on the mainland a week before lease end, so if text counts some of it is in writing.  Good call on before tenant moves in pics.  Thanks all.
Many places require you to provide written estimates for damages discovered in the inspection prior to the tenants vacating. If you did the inspection, but did not provide required notice, you may be out of luck for any damages that were apparent during your inspection (damage hidden by the tenant's possessions may still be recoverable). Usually you have 30 days after tenant vacates to provide written itemized damages.

driftwood

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Re: Found out tenants violated pet policy after the fact
« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2018, 12:54:28 PM »
Thanks for all the great advice, I did a walkthrough with one of the tenants the day before lease end but it was verbal and did have a text exchange with one of the tenants that was back on the mainland a week before lease end, so if text counts some of it is in writing.  Good call on before tenant moves in pics.  Thanks all.

Is a verbal walk-through even a real thing? I don't see how this could hold up in any type of court. I don't honestly see any tenant voluntarily remembering to mention every tiny piece of damage on the property over the phone.

robartsd

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Re: Found out tenants violated pet policy after the fact
« Reply #9 on: August 09, 2018, 02:05:06 PM »
Damage estimates in the text exchange might be counted as written notice.

Raenia

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Re: Found out tenants violated pet policy after the fact
« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2018, 09:03:35 AM »
Thanks for all the great advice, I did a walkthrough with one of the tenants the day before lease end but it was verbal and did have a text exchange with one of the tenants that was back on the mainland a week before lease end, so if text counts some of it is in writing.  Good call on before tenant moves in pics.  Thanks all.
Many places require you to provide written estimates for damages discovered in the inspection prior to the tenants vacating. If you did the inspection, but did not provide required notice, you may be out of luck for any damages that were apparent during your inspection (damage hidden by the tenant's possessions may still be recoverable). Usually you have 30 days after tenant vacates to provide written itemized damages.

I don't know how common this is, but I've never received damage estimates before vacating.  Most of my past landlords didn't even do a walkthrough before we were required to vacate, and we were not invited to join on the walkthrough.

nereo

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Re: Found out tenants violated pet policy after the fact
« Reply #11 on: August 10, 2018, 09:13:46 AM »

I don't know how common this is, but I've never received damage estimates before vacating.  Most of my past landlords didn't even do a walkthrough before we were required to vacate, and we were not invited to join on the walkthrough.

I always do a walkthrough with the tenants before they vacate. If there's a problem I want to be able to point it out to them directly, and hear if there's an explanation. Telling them I am going to do a walkthrough with them also seems to motivate them to clean everything better. It also gives the tenants an opportunity to point out things that I might not notice right away, like switches that work improperly.

Many landlords are just too lazy to do these things, but IMO being right out in front of potential problems keeps them from snowballing in small-claims court.

Slow2FIRE

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Re: Found out tenants violated pet policy after the fact
« Reply #12 on: August 10, 2018, 12:59:16 PM »
Thanks for all the great advice, I did a walkthrough with one of the tenants the day before lease end but it was verbal and did have a text exchange with one of the tenants that was back on the mainland a week before lease end, so if text counts some of it is in writing.  Good call on before tenant moves in pics.  Thanks all.
Many places require you to provide written estimates for damages discovered in the inspection prior to the tenants vacating. If you did the inspection, but did not provide required notice, you may be out of luck for any damages that were apparent during your inspection (damage hidden by the tenant's possessions may still be recoverable). Usually you have 30 days after tenant vacates to provide written itemized damages.

Personally, I always do the walkthrough with my landlords when I am no longer renting a place.  If there is something they want to be picky about, I'd rather remediate immediately or show my pre-move in photos if it was existing damage not caused by us.
I don't know how common this is, but I've never received damage estimates before vacating.  Most of my past landlords didn't even do a walkthrough before we were required to vacate, and we were not invited to join on the walkthrough.

clarkfan1979

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Re: Found out tenants violated pet policy after the fact
« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2018, 11:36:56 AM »
I have a $200 non-refundable pet fee per pet. The tenants gladly paid this for their one approved dog. About two weeks before they were moving out I noticed a new puppy in a cage in the basement with no one home. I took a picture of the puppy. I am going to take $200 out of their deposit as a non-fundable pet fee for the 2nd pet.

Does anyone have any ideas to legally discourage hiding pets. Based on my policy they only get charged if they get caught. Could I change my policy to reflect a $400 fine for non-approved pets, instead of the standard $200 pet fee?

onlykelsey

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Re: Found out tenants violated pet policy after the fact
« Reply #14 on: August 11, 2018, 11:47:24 AM »
I have a $200 non-refundable pet fee per pet. The tenants gladly paid this for their one approved dog. About two weeks before they were moving out I noticed a new puppy in a cage in the basement with no one home. I took a picture of the puppy. I am going to take $200 out of their deposit as a non-fundable pet fee for the 2nd pet.

Does anyone have any ideas to legally discourage hiding pets. Based on my policy they only get charged if they get caught. Could I change my policy to reflect a $400 fine for non-approved pets, instead of the standard $200 pet fee?

i've only ever been a landlord when renting out a room in my condo, so I would notice a pet, but... if I read that lease and thought you were an animal-hater, I'd probably just make a planned breach and book the 400 liability. 

joonifloofeefloo

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Re: Found out tenants violated pet policy after the fact
« Reply #15 on: August 11, 2018, 12:00:25 PM »
Your region's tenancy laws will tell you what you can access, what you need to access that, and how to access that. So, definitely look up the laws that apply.

For example, where I live, a landlord can only claim costs if she did a walk-in and walk-out inspection with the tenants on the proscribed forms *and* does the application-for-damages process exactly as the government lays out.

tralfamadorian

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Re: Found out tenants violated pet policy after the fact
« Reply #16 on: August 11, 2018, 12:28:41 PM »
I have a $200 non-refundable pet fee per pet. The tenants gladly paid this for their one approved dog. About two weeks before they were moving out I noticed a new puppy in a cage in the basement with no one home. I took a picture of the puppy. I am going to take $200 out of their deposit as a non-fundable pet fee for the 2nd pet.

Does anyone have any ideas to legally discourage hiding pets. Based on my policy they only get charged if they get caught. Could I change my policy to reflect a $400 fine for non-approved pets, instead of the standard $200 pet fee?

I charge $500 non-refundable fee for an approved pet and a $1000 for an unapproved pet. I tell them it's because I need to make sure the new pet would be covered under insurance in case anything happened (ie: unapproved pit bull bites the neighbor's kid). These fees are disclosed on the lease right at the top with rent, move in date, etc.

robartsd

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Re: Found out tenants violated pet policy after the fact
« Reply #17 on: August 13, 2018, 08:41:37 AM »
I've never heard of non-refundable pet fees (other than monthly pet rent). I doubt that they would be legal in here in California (though I suppose a nominal fee for evaluation of a pet under policy that required approval before permitting pets would be permissible).

JanetJackson

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Re: Found out tenants violated pet policy after the fact
« Reply #18 on: August 13, 2018, 09:23:57 AM »
I don't have an answer about the pet policy, but I did want to second that I have only ONCE been included in a vacancy walk-through and I have lived in approximately 20 rentals, both commercial and with landlords.  I've also paid non-refundable pet deposits in about ten of them, in three different states.

The non-refundable pet deposits seem to be the way that leases are going these days, which makes sense... but does really stink for someone like me who vacuums every single day, shampoos the carpets regularly and never ever leaves any damage (my dog is like the Mr. (Mrs?) Rogers of dogs, she's just calm and quiet and neat and friendly).  But, I suppose I pay for the right to have my little ball of fuzzy happiness with me, and although frustrating, it's worth it.

My pet deposit at my last apartment was $400, $250 at my prior apartment.  But I turned down SEVERAL places that were asking for $500+ non refundable pet deposits.  My current apartment had no pet deposit.

tralfamadorian

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Re: Found out tenants violated pet policy after the fact
« Reply #19 on: August 13, 2018, 09:27:41 AM »
I've never heard of non-refundable pet fees (other than monthly pet rent). I doubt that they would be legal in here in California (though I suppose a nominal fee for evaluation of a pet under policy that required approval before permitting pets would be permissible).

Non-refundable fees are not legal in CA (and a couple of other states). In my state, non-refundable fees are common for pets in addition to a security deposit, and in student rentals in lieu of a security deposit.

lizzzi

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Re: Found out tenants violated pet policy after the fact
« Reply #20 on: August 13, 2018, 09:32:25 AM »
I've never heard of non-refundable pet fees (other than monthly pet rent). I doubt that they would be legal in here in California (though I suppose a nominal fee for evaluation of a pet under policy that required approval before permitting pets would be permissible).

I had to pay a $700 non-refundable pet fee when I moved into my large, professionally-managed apartment complex in upstate NY. It only applies to my one, specific pet. In other words, if he (small dog) dies, and I get another pet, I have to pay another pet fee. I am allowed to keep two pets, but would be charged the $700 for a second pet. There is no monthly "pet rent" added to my rent.

ematicic

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Re: Found out tenants violated pet policy after the fact
« Reply #21 on: August 13, 2018, 09:45:48 AM »
And although they moved out, contact them with your concern and a quantified statement of damages. Remind them that future dwelling owners will likely seek a referral upon application and currently you are going to provide a negative recommendation due to the undisclosed pets and damage. If they bought, it won't help but hard to rent with a negative review.

FIFoFum

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Re: Found out tenants violated pet policy after the fact
« Reply #22 on: August 13, 2018, 10:15:55 AM »
Your recourse is the document damage and withhold security deposit, as per your state's laws.

You can't withhold security deposit for a lease "rules violation" that causes no damage. If you have an issue with a tenant violating the terms of your lease, that's for you to take up with them during the lease period (e.g., grounds for them to change it or be evicted).

The more restrictive you make things, the more tenants will hide things from you. That's just human nature.

Your claim about the potential insurance claim is probably false and likely loses you credibility in the eyes of tenants.

A good reason to have pets disclosed is that it makes it easier for you to set reasonable policies and then see if your tenants are in compliance with your lease terms (e.g., # or type of pets, weight limits, etc.).
 
FWIW - I'm a frequent renter, past landlord, dog owner, and uber responsible dog trainer (so I see the gamut of responsibility/damage from dogs in many client homes). I've never minded giving a reasonable extra amount of security deposit when I'm renting, because I know I'm going to get it back with my style of pet management. I think "pet rent" as a per monthly charge is bullshit (pets are not people) & it's not like landlords can charge for young children, who often cause far more damage. The more landlords try to finesse the rules and allow "some" pets, the further you make rules that have nothing to do with damage potential, and the more you open the door for grey areas, tenant "lawyering" and people hiding shit.

My experience is that responsible pet owners can be great long-term tenants because they appreciate that not everyone rents to them & are thrilled to find someone reasonable who does. I understand landlords who simply don't want to rent to pet owners at all (esp if they have high turnover properties, allergies themselves, and so on).

Good luck with your next tenants!